‘Exchange Student Zero’ brings anime to life

What happens when two animation worlds collide? On Sept.26, Cartoon Network launches Exchange Student Zero, a new original series that offers jam-packed comedy and adventure – as well as Filipino talent.

The show follows two school friends, Max and John, who are obsessed with a fantasy card game called Battle Day Zero. They inadvertently bring one of the characters, Hiro, to life. His arrival coincides with that of a Japanese exchange student who he is mistaken for, allowing him to live among the confused townsfolk, but being an anime character in a normal toon world, Hiro becomes the source of confusion and hilarity.

Scenes from the animation series Exchange Student Zero

Max and John try their best to keep his true identity a secret until they can work out how to get him back to his own world. But the situation becomes more difficult when the portal between both worlds keeps allowing more and more exotic creatures into John’s and Max’s sleepy town.

The Cartoon Network production is a collaborative effort between artists from different countries: the series was commissioned by Cartoon Network based in Hong Kong, produced in Australia, with talent employed in North America and even Argentina. But the series also looked to the Philippines to harness the country’s animation expertise, tapping local animation studio Top Draw Animation, whose talents have worked on world-renowned shows including Monster Beach and My Little Pony.

 “One of the great things about working on Exchange Student Zero was being able to fuse the two types of animation, western and Japanese-style anime,” said Nary Jamlig, creative director at Top Draw Animation. 

Both western and anime characters get to travel between both “worlds”. For example, the western characters go to various anime universes, which creates an exciting alternate reality but also a unique opportunity for animators.

 “Although both styles are exciting to work on, they also present different kinds of challenges. One episode normally finishes in a thirteen-week turnaround that includes setting up the scene all the way to after-effects,” added Lean Lagonera, Top Draw’s Animation director.

 The show’s team also includes three-time Gold Logie Award winner Rove McManus, who lends his voice to four characters in the show including Max and Hiro. The theme music is composed by Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, both from the 70s and 80s American rock band Devo. The brothers were the musical geniuses behind other scores including The Lego Movie and Regular Show.

Exchange Student Zero premieres on Sept. 26, and then Saturdays at 6:45pm only on the number one kids’ channel, Cartoon Network.

Cartoon Network is available on SKYCable Channel 43, SKYCable HD Channel 178, Cignal Channel 35, Cignal HD Channel 110, Destiny Cable (Digital) Channel 43, Destiny Cable (Analog) Channel 51 and Cable Link Channel 26, Dream Satellite Channel 15.

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