A creative studio focused on brand strategy,
visual identity, CGI, key art, packaging, and film.

Japan 2021

Japan 2021
British Film Institute
  • Art Direction
  • Illustration
  • Storyboard
  • CGI
1 Jan 2021

"JAPAN 2021" was a Japanese film campaign conducted throughout the United Kingdom from 2020 to 2021, organized by the British Film Institute. ZYLA was responsible for the art direction of the project's key illustrations and the production of promotional videos.

This project focused on the masterpieces of Japanese cinema with a history of over 100 years and was presented through film festivals, online exhibitions, theatrical releases, educational events, and more. The British Film Institute sought designers familiar with Japanese culture, such as ourselves based in Tokyo, rather than designers from the UK.

Drawing inspiration from the works of acclaimed directors in Japanese film history, such as Yasujirō Ozu, Takeshi Kitano, and AKIRA, we created promotional videos that were a mix of both traditional and contemporary. The illustration style we developed allowed us to create a highly impactful and iconic advertising campaign.

Challenge & Creative Direction

The BFI was seeking a campaign that represented the iconic masterpieces of Japanese cinema. They wanted to portray Japanese culture in a contemporary manner and advertise it in a way that would appeal to the British audience.

We devised a black-and-white manga-inspired aesthetic, allowing us to blend traditional Japanese inspiration into a cool and modern expression.

For the videos, we envisioned the overall flow, considering the individual personalities of each character and key items involved. We were conscious of scene transitions and the narrative structure, ensuring a cohesive storytelling experience throughout the entire video.

Project Results

This campaign, which was consciously created to convey "cool Japanese culture" in the UK, garnered attention through various media channels, including domestic and international outlets, web platforms, publications, transportation advertisements within London, and cinema screens.

Web Impressions:67,723,943
Media Coverage:Over 200 features
Broadcast Viewership:1,416,089

Print Publication Circulation:9,226,426 copies

Initial Storyboard during Production. We carefully considered the individual personalities of each character and key items involved, while also planning the scene transitions and narrative structure to create a compelling beginning, middle, and end.

Art Direction for Illustrations

Transportation advertisements were displayed throughout various locations in London. The illustrations were designed to be converted into 3D models for the video production. We aimed to recreate the characters from the films while maintaining a balanced approach between 2D and 3D expressions, ensuring that they did not deviate too much from each other.

Results & Awards

As the statistics show, our promotional videos made a strong impact on the British society, primarily through web platforms, broadcasts, and transportation advertisements. We are delighted to have connected the two countries, the United Kingdom and Japan, with our expertise in design and contributed to the increased recognition of Japanese culture in the UK.

Furthermore, our efforts were recognized, and we were able to receive the Bronze award at the prestigious New York Design Awards and the 101st Art Directors Club (ADC). Winning this award alongside the success of the campaign has made this project a memorable one for us.


Design Firm:
Centre Creative / London
ZYLA / Tokyo
Creative Director:
Darren Wood, Nariaki Kanazawa
Animation Creative Director,
Illustration Art Director:
Yuki Matsushima
Animation Director:
Susumu Yamaguchi
Design Director:
Keita Takemura
Tatsuya Kondo
Kenichiro Goto, Tomoya Iwasawa
Head of Marketing:
Tim Platt
Marketing Campaign:
Sebastian Stern
Modeling Agency:
Outer Space Technology
Hiroshi Shimasaki