PETALING JAYA, Nov 29 — Cartoon Network’s upcoming animation series Mechamato is a universal story about a boy and his beloved robot.
But viewers tuning in from across Asia, Australia and New Zealand won’t be able to ignore the Malaysian elements that creators Animonsta Studios have injected into the show.
Whether it’s the main character Amato zooming past a curry puff seller or a fictional town that bears an uncanny resemblance to one of Malaysia’s most historical cities, the Cyberjaya-based studio behind the popular BoBoiBoy franchise wanted to write a story close to their hearts.
Animonsta chief content officer and Mechamato showrunner Anas Abdul Aziz said he and his colleague Mohd Nizam Abd Razak used their multicultural upbringing as inspiration for the series.
“We grew up in that kind of environment where we have friends of different races, we have Indian uncles and Chinese aunties – this kind of environment is second nature to us, it’s nothing foreign,” Anas said in a recent Zoom interview.
Creator Nizam, who grew up in Melaka, used his hometown as the setting for the series.
Malaccans and anyone who has visited the historical city will instantly recognise the fictional Kota Hilir as Bandar Melaka with its waterways, charming narrow streets and diverse community.
“It’s got the waterways and a very nice mixture of different races living together in harmony,” Anas said.
“I think it’s very important to have that especially in this day and age where society can be a bit polarised.
“As creators of shows for children, it’s important there’s this normalcy and harmony in our society that needs to be celebrated.”
Mechamato tells the story of a young boy who meets a robot that can mechanise objects around him.
The idea for the cartoon series came about in 2018 when the studio pitched the idea to Cartoon Network.
The studio wanted a robot-buddy story that represents the childlike imagination every kid can relate to, such as making robot costumes out of cardboard boxes.
“All those kinds of imaginations and DIY stuff that we did, they were creative and crude sometimes but in our minds as kids, we always imagined them to be completely real,” Anas added.
“We thought it would be cool if we could actually give that joy of imagination into our animation, so that is essentially what Mechamato is all about.”
Originally created in English and Malay, Cartoon Network and Animonsta worked with a dubbing studio in Miami to present the series in a multitude of languages including Indonesian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Thai, Korean and Japanese.
“I’ve been a big fan of Animonsta for the last 15 years since their first show,” Cartoon Network Asia Pacific head Leslie Lee said.
“Mechamato has gone through a very big evolution so I’m really glad we have the show with us on Cartoon Network now.”
The cartoon series comes at a time when Cartoon Network is re-envisioning itself as a network with a broader appeal for audiences across Asia through an upcoming campaign titled ‘Redraw Your World’ that kicks off in January 2022.
“It’s really sort of a pivot for us, the old Cartoon Network and what the new Cartoon Network stands for in terms of inclusivity,” Lee said.
“In terms of empowering kids and the power of imagination and the power of embracing kids from every country and every background, that’s what the new Cartoon Network stands for and I’m glad that Mechamato is part of this new brand.”
Mechamato is exclusively available on Cartoon Network (Astro Ch 615 HD). The first and second episodes debut at 3.00pm on Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5, respectively, with new episodes premiering every weekend at the same time thereafter.