How Pixar's 'Bao' Short Was Influenced by 'One Piece'

bao pixar one piece

Bao, the newest short film from Pixar Animation Studios, tells the story of an older Chinese woman who accidentally creates a small child out of a steamed dumpling, and proceeds to raise him as her own. With a premise this fun, at a studio to innovative, it's no surprise that the creators were influenced by one of the most exciting and popular animated series in the entire world.

Of course, we're talking about One Piece.

During a recent visit to Pixar's studio in Emeryville, California, we had the chance to listen to Bao's director Domee Shi explain the the process of putting her new film together. Once she got into the animation aspects of production, she explained that she looked to One Piece when trying to perfect the style of animation the movie would use.

"Animation is especially critical in Bao because it's really where these characters come to life," Shi said. "And before starting animation, I would start gathering examples of styles I wanted to go for, and I'd show them to my animation supervisor, Juan Carlos Navarro. I was heavily influenced by Japanese animation, like the visual styles of My Neighbors the Yamadas and One Piece, this really popular cartoon in Japan. And I love how squishy their characters looked and how pushed their expressions are. We drew our inspiration mostly from 2D animation, which was going to be a challenge in 3D because of how big the character's heads are and how exaggerated their limbs are. So we knew early on that we had to do a lot of planning and preparation and exploration to really nail down the animation style that would suit the short."

Shi continued by saying that the main character in the film, simply known as Mom, was the one who needed those exaggerated, One Piece-style facial expressions the most.

"And Mom was super-challenging to animate because of her big, squishy head and tiny, chubby body," the director said. "I wanted to preserve the fun, pushed graphic quality of my 2D drawings of her, like I wanted to preserve those bug eyes and those big, floaty tears in 3D. But as we were going into animation, we soon realized that some expressions that worked well in 2D are not so successful in 3D at all."


Do you think Bao did the historic animation of One Piece justice? Are you excited to see the new short when it arrives this summer? Let us know by dropping a line in the comment section below!

Bao will be playing ahead of Incredibles 2 when it flies into theaters on June 15.