Magiki started out as a series of collectable figurines, which were popular in southern Europe, Russia and elsewhere. Now, DeAgostini’s part-owned Zodiak Kids has used the characters as the starting point for Magiki, a new series it will be bringing to MIPTV for the first time. Eryk Casemiro, chief creative officer at Zodiak Kids Studios, says that because there was no back story attached to the series of characters, it had a blank page when it came to creating the Magiki world, although DeAgostini was involved throughout.
Casemiro’s team set about giving the characters a makeover to ensure they were accessible to kids viewers around the world. This meant making the princesses a little less girly and a little more contemporary.
“It takes the tropes of a fairy tale world and turns them on their head, and it will cut through because it is cute and does that with heart,” says Casemiro. “It is full of funny, unexpected moments.”
Maria O’Loughlin, who worked with Zodiak on Zack and Quack, came in to collaborate with Casemiro on the story.
The result is a set-up in which seven-year-old Billie uses a magical key to transport herself to the world of Magiki, in which she is a princess and her toys and friends are her subjects.
She goes there when, in the real world, she faces problems, usually stemming from her relationship with her older twin sisters. The twins also appear as the baddies in the magical world to which she journeys.
Based in part on the idea of kids fantasy play, Billie uses her trips to Magiki to cast light on real-life challenges. “When her older sisters tease her, she jumps in to Magiki, which is a parallel world and kingdom where she can start to solve these problems,” says Casemiro.
“It’s for 4-to-6s, and because that is at the top of preschool, the stories can have a little complexity and some peril, and that is unusual in preschool.
“One of the catchphrases is ‘it is better to do something than nothing at all’. It is the idea that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as you take steps to solving them.”
The cast of characters includes lazy knight Sir Kitty Cat; Countess Elizabeth, who runs the castle; Scorch, a stuffy-nosed dragon; and Bunny Cuddles, a rabbit who always wants a cuddle (often at inappropriate moments).
Lagardère’s French channel Gulli came on board the 52x11mins show, as did Planeta in Spain. In Italy, the show will head to DeAgostini’s Super! channel.
The writing, animatics and design have been done in France, with the production handled by Animasia in Malaysia, another copro partner.
The show, which is produced in Flash, will start delivering later this year. Zodiak Kids previewed at MIPTV with a three-minute trailer, with full episodes ready for MIPCOM.
The show: Magiki
The producers: Zodiak Kids Studios, DeAgostini Publishing, Animasia, Planeta
The distributor: Zodiak Kids
The broadcasters: Gulli (France), Planeta (Spain), Super! (Italy)
The concept: Preschool toon series in which seven-year-old Billie travels to a magical land called Magiki to have fun and solve problems