Montpellier: Dreamland, from manga to anime, a highly anticipated adaptation

. (© DNA / The Owl Company / Ellipsanime)

Published by Pika Edition since 2006, dreamland is considered the first French manga. its creator, Reno Lemaire, has set his story in his hometown of Montpellier. While the release of Volume 21 is highly anticipated, the streaming platform offers AnimeDigitalNetwork (DNA) woke the fan base with the announcement the anime adaptation from dreamland.

Place de la Comedie in the anime

On Monday, ADN broadcast a first teaser on social networks in which we saw the Place de la Comédie in a Japanese animation style. The remaining slight doubts about an adaptation of Dreamland were dispelled the next day.

Invented by Montpellier resident Reno Lemaire, the story follows Terrence, an 18-year-old teenager, a senior at Mas de Tesse High School who has since become Jules Guesde, who has been terrified of fire since his death got mom in a fire when he was only seven years old. One evening, when Terrence dreams that his mother is caught in the flames, he overcomes his fear and then meets a mysterious man who tells him that he has become a traveller. From that moment on, every night while sleeping, the teenager finds himself transported to Dreamland, the world of dreams, where he experiences many adventures and meets incredible people.

When Dreamland is developed in manga format, its narrative and drawing stand out. With a strong and particularly rich storyline over the length, the series has a large following. By the end of the first cycle in volume 19, more than 530,000 volumes had been sold.

DNA, from broadcaster to co-producer

This Wednesday, June 15, DNA revealed much more during a live performance on Twitch to celebrate the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. An important project for the platform that has in its catalog more than 430 old or current animated series, that is more than 12,000 episodes available to stream for free. A broadcaster that is now stepping up a gear 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 the full variety of animation. The goal is to help the talents bring their projects out,” explains Benoit de Tauriac, Managing Director of ADN, ahead of the presentation of the platform’s first three original co-productions: “The Last Adventure of Count Lance -Dure” 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

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

Animation of Montpellier.
Animation of Montpellier. (© DNA / The Owl Company / Ellipsanime)

Sylvain Dos Santos, director of La Chouette Compagnie, explains the origin of the project: “It is the most iconic manga of a whole generation. It’s been years since I wanted to adapt Dreamland and I’m biting my fingers. Thanks to DNA, this is possible. From the moment they arrived it became concrete. And that is freedom. It is the only channel that understands Japanese cartoons and our point of view. That was the key to a good adaptation of Dreamland. Especially since we are expected at the turning point, there are people behind it. And it shouldn’t disappoint Reno either.”

An adjustment

Reno Lemaire, who has been keeping the project secret since January 2021. “I trained to be a president. I lied to everyone,” he jokes. He doesn’t hide his lack of love for Japanese animation and warns: “Fans are waiting for a series as long as a shonen, but if you sum up the important moments, you can only have a few episodes in the end. Antoine and Jean-Luc understood Dreamland and the characters”.

The two screenwriters Jean-Luc Cano and Antoine Manuel actually flipped the switch between paper and animation to cover the 19 volumes of the manga in three seasons of 10 episodes of 22 minutes each. Readers will therefore not find the plot exactly, but don’t worry. “Yeah, we haven’t adapted, but it’s still Dreamland. The idea was that nothing happens if Reno doesn’t validate. Everything we did was in line with him,” explains Jean-Luc Cano, specifying the deferred elements of screenwriting: “If Dreamland works, there’s an opportunity to do a lot of spin-offs.”

And if some fans were worried about possible censorship, not particularly thinking about Mojoland, Reno Lemaire was very clear: “I already censor myself. Nothing gets censored because there is nothing to censor.” When things are brought up with intelligence, there is no censorship.” And to emphasize the importance of collaborating with “a French animation studio that shares the same sensibility, as opposed to what a Japanese studio could have done”.

Graphic style change

However, we still have to wait. Following this announcement, the series will soon enter the production phase and the first episodes should be presented in late 2023. Among the elements indicated, we know that Reno Lemaire will follow the creation phase, in particular with Nicolas Jaffré in charge of the characters design, that the voices will be in French with voice actors who will not be known voices and that the credits will be from of the group Shaka Ponk could be signed.

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

A 2min30 trailer directed by Charles Lefebvre will nevertheless be unveiled on Monday 20th June on DNA’s social networks. Even if these are not images from the series, they show more of the change in graphic style, which is clearly based on Japanese animation, which is reminiscent of Jujutsu Kaisen. “It’s a more mature style that follows the reader’s development. We wanted to bring more maturity to the design. Reno’s contribution was extraordinary. It’s rare that an author agrees to modify the original work,” explains Xavier Morelli, Executive Producer at Ellipse Animation. “When I saw the finished trailer with the music and effects… it’s amazing! Judge Reno Lemaire.

On paper, Dreamland Animation has everything it takes to be a success, with a big focus on export. “That’s the goal, no question. Dreamland is a universal work that can reach any country in the world,” explains co-producer Sylvain Dos Santos. Enough to give Montpellier excellent international publicity, as Clapas-born screenwriter Antoine Manuel pointed out: “As French people, we know certain parts or districts of Japan thanks to all the animes we’ve seen. It is very gratifying to say that with Dreamland, some Japanese will discover Montpellier and promote this city.” And Reno Lemaire warns with amusement: “The first episode is a tourist guide”.

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