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The following write-up is based on ''Sejarah Animasi Malaysia'' (History of

Malaysian Animation) by Hassan Abd Muthalib of Universiti Teknolgi Mara''s (UiTM)

Creative and Artistic Technology published in 2009.

This is the first article from the series of four on the development and

progress of the animation industry in the country.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 (Bernama) -- When one talks about a popular local

television animation series, many may think about the response given to Upin and


That is about animation on television. What about those on the silver

screen? The topic will shift to the animated movie version of Upin and Ipin,

this time the title is Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula'' (Gang: The Adventure Begins).

The movie scored a success in the local and overseas market.

However, the present generation is wrong to think that the success of the

local animation industry was sparked by Les'' Copaque, the production house that

made Upin dan Ipin.

The country''s animation industry has dated back to 1946 with the founding of

the Malayan Film Unit (MFU), the precursor of Filem Negara and the making of the

first animated short feature - Hikayat Sang Kancil (the legend of the clever

mouse deer).


The local animation industry started with Wayang Kulit (shadow play) which

was acknowledged as the first animation in the world. Why is that? Wayang kulit

had elements like the white screen, light projection and moving images.

Wayang kulit had an influence on animation efforts from the West. This can

be seen in the work of German animator Lotte Reiniger, who produced The

Adventures of Prince Achmed in 1926.

Locally, it began with the establishment of MFU and the making of Hikayat

Sang Kancil, which was the effort of set designer Anandam Xavier.

Despite being completed in 1978, this animated feature only made the public

viewing on Hari Raya Puasa in 1983.

Those who are familiar with this movie could recall this dialogue; “Aku mahu

makan buah dari pokok yang kamu tanam itu,” kata monyet.

Kancil: “Jangan, jangan monyet, kita tidak boleh makan buah ini,”.(I want to

eat the fruit from the tree that you have grown, said the monkey. Kancil

replied; No, no we cannot eat these fruits).

This dialogue, in the short animated feature "Sang Kancil Dan Monyet", used

a cell animated technique directed by Hassan Abdul Muthalib. Most of the short

features made by MFU, like "Sang Kancil Dan Buaya", "Gagak Yang Bijak", "Singa

Yang Haloba", "Arnab Yang Sombong", are about instilling moral values in

children and adults alike.


Cartoonist Lat or Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid needs no introduction to Malaysians.

His work, Kampung Boy, published in 1979, has been well received in many

countries and was later made into an animated version.

Younger generations may not be aware that Lat''s other masterpiece, Keluarga

Si Mamat, is the first made for television animation about a cartoonist''s life


Keluarga Si Mamat touches on normal day life and is a slapstick comedy on

traditional and modern values. It was produced in 1987 by Film Negara''s

Animation Unit.

That same year, ''Din Teksi'', the work of cartoonist Zainal Osman or

popularly known as Nan, was also turned into a celluloid animation.

However the first cartoon character to be turned into a movie is Mat Gelap

by Imuda. This is the first time in the local movie industry that a movie

features both life and animated characters.


Many remember the television animation series Usop Sontorian. It is about

Usop, a boy who lived in Kampung Parit Sonto, and his friends Abu, Ah Kim, and

Singh. it was the first television animation series produced in 1995.

Usop Sontorian was made using the innovative direct-to-system technique by

the series director Kamn Ismail. The director worked with cartoonist Ujang and

the series was produced by Kharisma Pictures Sdn Bhd in 1993-1996.

This technique allows the animation, previously done on paper, to be

directly created using a computer.

Usop Sontorian created rave reviews when it was shown at the Asian Animation

Festival in Hiroshima, Japan in 1996. Following the success of Usop Sontorian,

other animated television series followed with the likes of Yokies, Sang Wira,

Anak-anak Sidek and Keluang Man.


Made in 1998 and directed by Hassan, Silat Legenda was the first animated

movie that used Dolby Digital Surround Sound system. It is also the first

animated movie that has the voice of celebrities like Noor Kumalasari

and Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan.

The movie is about five Malay youths who found five kris used by the five

Malay warriors during the Melaka Malay Sultanate era. Silat legenda received the

Jury Special Award for being the first full-length animated movie at the 14th

Malaysian Film Festival in 1999.


Nien Resurrection is the first 3D animation feature made into VCD. It was

created in 2000 by Young Jump Animation that handled the TV series Saladin (a

joint effort between Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and Al-Jazeera

Children''s Channel).

The animated feature "Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula" produced by Les'' Copaque,

the creators of Upin dan Ipin, made RM6.31 million at the box-office. This made

the movie the top grossing film in the local film industry for the year 2009.

In the wake of this success, the movie that features the adventures of the

animated characters Upin and Ipin, created waves abroad even though it is in


The way both Upin and Ipin speak and their hair style became the style in

many other countries, especially in Indonesia.

Also, the movie was the first Malaysian animated feature to hit the silver

screen in India.



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