Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
Crusader Dante returns home to discover that his beloved Beatrice has been murdered, and her soul dragged into Hell. Refusing to give her up, he steals Death's scythe and chases after her… into the Inferno.
Loosely based on the first part of The Divine Comedy, the animation segments in Dante's Inferno represent a Who's Who of major animation talent in Japan, Korea and the United States.
PRODUCTION IG (Japan)
Anime company Production IG began as a spin-off from the Tatsunoko studio, known in Japan as the "home of the heroes," originating such titles as Battle of the Planets. But IG's specialist area was computer graphics and digital animation, winning awards and accolades for ground-breaking work on Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell and its spin-offs. Subsequent works have included Blood: The Last Vampire (later adapted into a live-action movie), and Mamoru Oshii's Sky Crawlers. The company's most widely-seen work is The Legend of O-Ren Ishii, an eight-minute anime sequence inserted into Quentin Tarantino's cinema hit Kill Bill. The company pioneered the role of "screen architects" - animators responsible for mood-lighting, digital colour-grading and shadow effects, who manipulate animated images to get a fuller, more realistic (and often more chilling) effect. The company takes its name from the initials of its founders' surnames: Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Takayuki Goto, although some in the company joke that it should really stand for "Itsumo Genki" (Always Happy).
The up and coming Manglobe company was formed in 2002 by two producers from the Sunrise corporation (best known for Gundam). Like Production IG, Manglobe comprised a team from a larger studio working in an experimental medium - their first work was the net cartoon Trip Trek in 2003, before their landmark Samurai Champloo, which retold old sword-fighting clichés with a sarcastic, sassy modern touch. The studio followed this with Ergo Proxy, a tale of humans versus androids in a post-apocalyptic thriller - in Japan, the closing theme music was Radiohead's Paranoid Android. The studio's most recent work is The Sacred Blacksmith (2009) a TV adaptation of the books by Isao Miura in which a feisty red-haired teenage girl is determined to follow in her ancestors' footsteps and become a knight. The company has often collaborated with the studios Bones and Xebec - the former a spin-off from Sunrise, the latter a spin-off from Production IG, forming just one of many invisible connections within the Japanese animation business.
JM ANIMATION (SOUTH KOREA)
Based in Seoul the JM corporation takes its name from its founder and CEO Jung Mee. Originally formed as a multimedia company in 1997, it set up a dedicated animation arm in 2003, and formed strong connections with nearby animation academies. It is also a prominent player behind the scenes in the "Japanese" animation world, contributing to the production of anime shows including Avatar: The Last Airbender, Gonzo's Gankutsu-O (an acclaimed sci-fi remake of the Count of Monte Cristo), Macross Zero, Wonderful Days, Noein, Aquarion and New Fist of the North Star. JM pursues its own projects in Korea, such as the TV serials Taichi Chaser and The Little Mom. The investment in young potential paid off in 2007 when Yu Jae-Myoung's short film Adventure Time was nominated for a primetime Emmy, and won a coveted "Annie" award for character animation. The studio continues to work as a subcontractor on American productions, such as The Boondocks and GI Joe: Resolute, and is currently working on a pilot for Jonah Hex.
DONGWOO ANIMATION (SOUTH KOREA)
Dongwoo (literally "Same Friend") Animation was formed in 1991 as a subcontractor for American and Japanese cartoons. In 1994, it formed a close working relationship with the Japanese animation studio Gallop, permitting Gallop's anime to be distributed as "Korean" products locally, and also permitting many of Dongwoo's Korean staffers to work on supposedly "Japanese" cartoons. Dongwoo continued to work on American cartoons such as Transformers: Car Robot, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Batman and Jackie Chan Adventures, for which the studio produced the striking opening title sequence. More recent works include the Canadian co-production Magi-Nation, and Tank Knights Portriss, a team-up with Sunrise, the Japanese studio famous for its robot serials.
FILM ROMAN (USA)
Founded by animator Phil Roman in 1984 in order to produce a series of Garfield TV-movies, Film Roman has become a familiar sight in primetime animation, with credits including King of the Hill, The Simpsons, The Mask, Richie Rich and X-Men: Evolution. In recent years, the studio has produced several edgier works straight to DVD, including Hellboy Animated and Dead Space: Downfall. For its part in Dante's Inferno, Film Roman created initial designs but then supervised the contribution of three Korean studios - Digital Emation, previous works from which include Batman, The Family Guy and Super Duper Sumos; Moi Animation, which previously worked on the TV series Stitch!, as well as Hulk Vs. and the upcoming Planet Hulk for Marvel; and Big Star Animation, which has worked on Ren & Stimpy, Kung Fu Panda, and Rob Zombie's El Superbeasto. Big Star was also a contributor to the production of Tales From the Black Freighter, the animated spin-off from the Watchmen movie.
Dante's Inferno will be released simultaneously with the Dante's Inferno game on 9th February 2010 in the USA, and 12th February in Europe.