Psycho-Pass, Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica fans alike have been awaiting writer Gen Urobuchi’s next move in the realms of anime, but it so happens that his next project isn’t animation, or even quite live-action. It is, in fact, a puppet theatre TV series called Thunderbolt Fantasy – Dōng lí jiàn yóujì (Sword Travels from the East), created after Urobuchi visited Taiwan two years ago and found himself enchanted by the country’s unique form of glove puppetry opera. He was especially taken with the performances by Taiwanese studio Pili International Multimedia, so he collaborated with them on his new work which looks rather unlike anything else we’ve ever seen.
The series stars physical puppets made and handled by Pili International, set against visuals with a few CG flourishes, and they were shown off last weekend at Chiba’s winter Wonder Festival. With all their rich costuming and radiant ornamentation, these glove puppets controlled by a puppeteer’s hand and fingers can weigh up to three kilograms each.
Urobuchi will, of course, be undertaking the scriptwriting as well as acting as supervisor, and other contributors include the Steins;Gate visual novel developers Nitroplus and its theme song performer T.M. Revolution, who has previously sung themes for Soul Eater, Gundam Seed and Bleach. This star-studded project’s first announced voice actors are Tomokazu Seki and Mai Nakahara, known for playing Fate/stay night’s Gilgamesh and .hack//Legend of the Twilight’s Rena, as Miè Tiān Hái and Dān Fēi (pictured below). The show’s producers revealed that some of the actors’ lines are recorded in real-time, as they performed certain sections of their dialogue while the puppets were being filmed.