Nintendo licensed some of its famous characters to the world of animation once upon a time. The result was The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and Captain N: The Game Master. Rumor has it that the company clamped down on licensing efforts after those questionable productions didn't necessarily keep to the desired spirit and tone of the characters, and aside from the wildly successful Pokémon has largely refrained from new animation projects featuring its popular properties. Now the company may be getting back into the animation business, but this time is handling the work directly with more hands-on involvement. Polygon reports that Pikmin shorts are in the works as one of Shigeru Miyamoto's side projects.
The videos sound a bit like a pet project of Miyamoto's. He told me he started thinking about the idea of creating them when trying to figure out how he could "give more life to the Pikmin characters."
"I didn't want to license our characters out to someone else to create films," he said. "Instead, since I used to draw four-panel comics when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to bring a four-panel comic approach to creating video content, so we started work on these Pikmin videos."
He said the company also hasn't decided if they'll expand their foray into cartoons by creating series for other Nintendo characters.
See, if this were an official corporate push, then I'm sure they'd start with a Legend of Zelda production that fans have been dreaming about for decades. Every decision would be carefully considered to maximize performance. Instead this is just Miyamoto goofing around with Captain Olimar and the Pikmin. I can't imagine there's much of an audience for that compared to some of Nintendo's more mainstream characters. Handling the project in this manner is such a Nintendo thing to do. Consider how companies like Konami, Sony, and Ubisoft have been trying to get films off the ground for Castlevania, Uncharted, and Assassin's Creed respectively for years. All of those projects are trapped in development hell as every executive in the management chain of command tries to have their say on developments. Here, with Pikmin, Miyamoto is sketching storyboards with Flipnote Studio and sending those over to the animation house. I think we can all see which method is more likely to get results.