‘Mickey in Tokyo’ is one of a series of new animated shorts produced by the Walt Disney Company, and showcased this week at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
The series was made by an assembled dream team of modern animation talents, including Aaron Springer of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ fame and Clay Morrow, Joseph Holt and Paul Rudish of the ‘The Powerpuff Girls’.
For Rudish, when the offer came he didn’t have to think twice before signing up: “When originally given the opportunity to get in here and play with Mickey Mouse, it was a little daunting. Here’s the progenitor of all cartoon characters, the original guy. “
While the shorts adhere to contemporary pacing, as Vice President of Disney Television Animation Mike Moon explains, character design harks back to the 1920s and 1930s and the backgrounds are directly influenced by the graphic design of the 1950s and 1960s: “The style borrows a lot of stuff from the past that we’ve cherry picked and pulled into this very futuristic, very modern, very contemporary execution. There’s a lot of ‘rubber hose’ influence on Mickey and the gang. There’s a lot of 60s and 50s graphical influence on some of the backgrounds. All together that served as the source of inspiration where we were able to make something very contemporary out of it.”
With jaunts across Paris, New York, Venice and Beijing, Mickey’s globe-trotting is perhaps the clearest indication of Disney’s global ambitions, as the company looks to reassert itself in the aggressive international entertainment market.