Montpellier: Dreamland, from manga to anime, a long-awaited adaptation

(©DNA / The Owl Company / Ellipsanime)

Published by Pika Edition since 2006, dreamland is considered to be the first French manga† its creator, Reno Lemaire, set his story in his hometown of Montpellier. While eagerly awaiting the release of volume 21, the streaming platform Anime Digital Network (DNA) woke up the fan community by announcing: the anime adaptation from dreamland.

Place de la Comedie in anime

On Monday, ADN broadcast a first teaser on social networks in which we saw the Place de la Comédie in the manner of a Japanese animation. The slight doubt that remained was lifted the next day about an adaptation of Dreamland.

Imagined by Montpellier resident Reno Lemaire, the story is about Terrence, an 18-year-old teenager, a senior at Mas de Tesse high school, who has since become Jules Guesde, who has had a panicky fear of fire since the death of his wife. mother in a fire when he was only seven years old. One evening, while dreaming of his mother trapped in the flames, Terrence manages to overcome his fear and then encounters a mysterious man who tells him that he has become a Traveler. From then on, the teenager is transported every night during his sleep to Dreamland, the world of dreams, where he will lead many adventures and meet incredible people.

If Dreamland is developed in manga format, the narration and drawing stand out. With a strong and very rich history throughout its length, the series has a large fan community. By the end of the first cycle in volume 19, over 530,000 volumes had been sold.

DNA, from presenter to co-producer

DNA revealed much more this Wednesday, June 15 during a live on Twitch on the occasion of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. An important project for the platform that has in its catalog more than 430 old or recent animated series, ie more than 12,000 episodes that can be streamed for free. A broadcaster that is now taking it up a notch by becoming a co-producer.

“ADN offers the best of Japanese animation and is now open to all types of animation. There is such richness that you must have this tool to show all the diversity of animation. The aim is to give the talents a helping hand to make their projects come true,” explains Benoit de Tauriac, director of ADN, before presenting the platform’s first three original co-productions: “The Last Adventure of Count Lance – Expensive” with Ankama Animations, “Le Collège Noir” with La Cachette studio and “Dreamland” with La Chouette and Ellipsanime.

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From paper to screen

Even if the fans have been waiting for this transition to animation, it’s a real surprise, as Reno Lemaire has not seemed inclined to accept a transposition of his work until now. La Chouette Compagnie, Ellipsanime and ADN have brought together all the ingredients to give them full confidence. Unlike Radiant, an Ankama Animation creation developed by a Japanese studio, Dreamland will thus be the first French manga adapted by two French studios.

Montpellier in animation.
Montpellier in animation. (©DNA / The Owl Company / Ellipsanime)

At the origin of the project, Sylvain Dos Santos, director of La Chouette Compagnie, explains: “It is the most iconic manga for an entire generation. It’s been years that I want to customize Dreamland and I’m biting my fingers. Thanks to DNA this is possible. It became concrete from the moment they arrived. And that is freedom. It is the only broadcaster that understands Japanese animation and our way of viewing. That was the key to a good adaptation of Dreamland. Certainly because we are expected at the bend, there are people behind it. And it shouldn’t disappoint Reno either.”

an adjustment

Reno Lemaire who has kept the project secret since January 2021. “I was trained to be president. I lied to everyone,” he jokes. Without hiding his lack of love for Japanese animation, he warns: “Fans wait for a series as long as a shonen, but if you sum up the important moments, you could end up with a few episodes. Antoine and Jean-Luc understood Dreamland and its characters”.

Indeed, the two screenwriters Jean-Luc Cano and Antoine Manuel have made the transition between paper and animation to cover the 19 parts of the manga in three seasons of 10 episodes of 22 minutes. So readers won’t find the plot precise, but don’t worry. “Yes, we haven’t adapted, but it’s still Dreamland. The idea was that nothing will happen if Reno doesn’t validate. Everything we did was in agreement with him,” explains Jean-Luc Cano, specifying the screenplay elements that had been set aside: “If Dreamland works, there’s a way to do a lot of spin-off” .

And if some fans were concerned about possible censorship and not thinking about Mojoland in particular, Reno Lemaire was very clear: “I’m already self-censoring. Nothing will be censored because there is nothing to censor. When things are brought up intelligently, there is no censorship”. And to emphasize the importance of working with “a French animation studio that shares the same sensibility, unlike what a Japanese studio could have done”.

Graphic style change

However, we will still have to wait. Following this announcement, the series will soon enter the production phase and the first episodes should be presented at the end of 2023. From the elements given, we know that Reno Lemaire will follow the creative axes, especially with Nicolas Jaffré in charge of the character design, that the voices will be in French with dubbers that will not be known voices and that the credits can be signed by the group Shaka Ponk.

Perhaps the Japanese will discover the Place de la Comédie thanks to Dreamland.
Perhaps the Japanese will discover the Place de la Comédie thanks to Dreamland. (©DNA / The Owl Company / Ellipsanime)

A trailer of 2min30 directed by Charles Lefebvre will nevertheless be unveiled on Monday 20 June on the social networks of DNA. Even if these aren’t images from the series, it will still show more of the graphic style change clearly focused on Japanese animation that Jujutsu Kaisen evokes. “It’s a more mature style that follows the reader’s evolution. We wanted to bring more maturity to the design. Reno’s contribution was exceptional. It is rare for an author to agree to adapt the original work,” explains Xavier Morelli, executive producer at Ellipse Animation. “When I saw the finished trailer with the music, the effects… it’s deadly! Judge Reno Lemaire.

On paper, Dreamland animation has what it takes to be a success with a big focus on export. “That’s the goal, there’s no doubt about it. Dreamland is a universal work that can reach any country in the world,” explains co-producer Sylvain Dos Santos. Enough to make excellent international publicity for Montpellier, as the screenwriter Antoine Manuel, a native of Clapas, noted: “As French, we know certain parts or districts of Japan thanks to all the anime we’ve seen. It is very gratifying to say that with Dreamland a number of Japanese will discover Montpellier and thus promote this city.” And Reno Lemaire warns amusedly: “The first episode is a tourist guide”.

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