Upin & Ipin: The zenith of Malaysian animation (so far)

Mention Malaysian animation to me and the first thing that pops to my brain are those various animated public service announcements on TV in 80s, such as the anti-aedes and anti-dadah campaigns and the Sang Kancil animated stories and age-old parables inculcating various social values.

Fortunately, the state of Malaysian animation has come a long way since those shorts. 3D style animation is the way forward and a Malaysian animated show currently riding high is the much beloved Upin & Ipin, which features the adventures of 5 year old twin brothers in a fictional Malaysian kampung (village). Originally a side project for the blockbuster animated film Geng: The Adventure Begins (Malaysia’s first CGI-animated feature film which is one of the highest-grossing Malay-language films in history), Upin & Ipin was introduced on TV9 in 2007 as a six-episode Ramadhan month special, to instill significance of the Islamic holy month amongst children. To date, the series has reached its fourth season, including another Ramadan special season in 2008. Its third season which was more secularized and went under the new full title Upin & Ipin dan Kawan-Kawan and which premiered in early 2009, was picked up by Disney Channel Asia for the international market (airing in November 2009) with dubs in English (the official dub, as the credits and episode titles are in English as well), Mandarin and other languages.

The brainchild behind Upin & Ipin is Les’ Copaque Productions (not French, mind you, but rather a French-ised version of “last kopek” or “final chance”). Established in 2005 as a platform for young creative Malaysians to showcase their talents, Les’ Copaque is a MSC Malaysia-certified animation and film production company based in Shah Alam, Malaysia. Spearheaded by husband and wife team, Hj. Burhanuddin Radzi and Hjh. Ainon Ariff, the company’s main goal is to be a media production company that specializes in creating their own intellectual property that showcases local talents and Malaysian culture. It was this determination which helped Upin & Ipin clinch Best Animation at the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival in 2007.

Aside from Malaysia, the Upin & Ipin franchise is also very popular in Indonesia which share linguistic and cultural similarities as the former. When it was picked up by Disney Channel Asia, not only is it available to view in the South East Asian countries, but also in Hong Kong and South Korea. It can also be viewed online, via Tonton, and YouTube (via lescopaque account).

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