Earlier this week, The Witcher’s animated prequel film, The Nightmare of the Wolf, was released on Netflix, and has so far received good to excellent reviews. As of the conception of this article, the movie boasts an impressive 100% on rotten tomatoes (based on 16 critics reviews) and has an audience rating of nearly 90%. The movie currently sits in Netflix’s top 10, further showcasing the early success of the film. Equipped with an incredible cast of voice actors, talented writers and directors, it’s clear that the film was set up for success. However, what tied all these pieces together to create such a memorable viewing experience was none other than the studio behind the animation.
The animation company responsible for putting together this incredible film is Studio Mir (Korean: 주식회사 스튜디오 미르), a South Korean animation studio known for their work on other popular American TV series, such as The Legend of Korra, The Boondocks, and Voltron: Legendary Defender. The studio has also done work for Riot Games, producing a number of short animations for the League of Legends franchise and has aided DC Entertainment with the production of some of their animated series and films.
As clear from their previous works, Studio Mir is no stranger to the fantasy genre. Even prior to its inception in 2010, Director Kwang-il Han and founder and CEO Jae-Myung Yoo both worked on Avatar: the Last Airbender as animators in the earlier seasons, and Han as animation director of season 3. Avatar is known for not only it’s great storytelling and worldbuilding, but for its impressive animation as well. TV Guide ranked its sequel The Legend of Korra as one of the best animated tv shows of the decade in their 2020 article The Best Animated TV Shows of the Decade, and Where to Stream Them. 1https://www.tvguide.com/news/features/best-animated-tv-shows-decade-2010s-where-to-watch/?fbclid=IwAR1gFSPDePvct2Uo0i6WXs9GRbAmR43gTfGcKyUFGy8MIR5uXSf8RQwu6Gg Both Avatar and its sequel have been praised for their realistic and fluid fight scenes, breathing life into the fictional universe full of unique fighting styles inspired by a number of real-life martial-arts.
Apart from Korra, many of Studio Mir’s other works belong to the fantasy or sci-fi genre, making them a fitting choice to animate the world of the Witcher, complete with all the magic, gore, and monsters one could wish for. Due to their prior relationship with Netflix from working on shows like The Legend of Korra and Voltron: Legendary Defender, the studio was already a shoe-in when it came to searching for an animation company to create the 2D film. The production of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf was originally announced on January 23, 2020, where Netflix announced Beau DeMayo as the head writer and Studio Mir as the main animation studio.
In an interview with Screen Rant, Director Han explained that animation was the chosen medium for this project because it has fewer restrictions than the more typical live-action film2https://screenrant.com/kwang-il-han-director-interview-witcher-nightmare-wolf/?utm_content=bufferb724a&utm_medium=Social-Distribution&utm_source=SR-TW&utm_campaign=SR-TW. In a universe such as that of The Witcher, there are many aspects of it that may not be as easily conveyed in live-action. Further on in the interview, Director Han goes on to explain where the studio drew inspiration when creating the film. In designing character appearance, the studio relied mostly on the Netflix series. When it came to using more specific details for storytelling, the original novels were where they turned. By drawing influence from a number of sources, Studio Mir was able to create a comprehensive look into the Witcher universe at a time before our main story begins. They managed to create and animate a world that fits nicely into the already established canon, while using both the artistic liberties of the company and writer Beau DeMayo.
All throughout the film, Studio Mir shows what Studio Mir does best. From Tetra’s powerful displays of magic to the final fight scene between her and Vesemir, the animation is breathtaking and fluid. Each monster is brought to life through their dramatic movement and unique designs. Characters are supplied with a wide spectrum of diverse expression, enhancing the emotional impact of the film and giving fans a stronger sense of empathy for the characters. The studio’s animation shines throughout each second of the film, leaving fans hooked through the full 83 minutes and hoping for a sequel when it ends.
Studio Mir is known for their unique animation style. Although it is somewhat a misnomer to refer to The Nightmare of the Wolf as “anime” (depending on how to choose to define the word and whether or not you separate “anime” from the more general “cartoon” or “animation”), the studio, and by consequence the film, draw influences from both Japanese anime and American animation styles. Along with drawing inspiration from both Japanese and Western animation, Studio Mir has done most of their work abroad. They hope to be able to continue finding success in the international market, and then bring that success back home to South Korea’s domestic animation market3 http://www.studiomir.co.kr/en/sub/view.php?code=news_eng&idx=230. Their dedication toward this international work is shown even in the company name. Studio Mir derives its name from MIR, the first ever space station launched in 1986. MIR is Russian for ‘Peace’ or ‘World’. The creation of the MIR space station served as the beginning of further scientific advancements in a number of other countries, including the United States. The studio chose this name as it represents ‘advancement through collaboration’4http://www.studiomir.co.kr/en/sub/sub01.php. By collaborating with international companies, Studio Mir works to expand the Korean animation market.
Although Korean animation isn’t as well known or highly-regarded as American and Japanese animation, Studio Mir is well on their way to becoming a big name in both Korean animation and abroad, having already had a hand in producing many successful and well-known animations. If you’re interested in learning more about the studio and their animations, check them out at their website, http://www.studiomir.co.kr/en/index.php.