Centaur world came out on Netflix today. The animated comedy series features lots of musical numbers and some spectacularly weird, but still adorable, designs. The series was created by Megan Nicole Dong and features a voice-over cast of Dong, Josh Radnor, Kimiko Glenn, Megan Hilty, Jessie Mueller, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Parvesh Cheena.
“A hardened warhorse from battle finds itself in a land inhabited by silly, singing centaurs of all shapes and sizes,” the official summary reads.
ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke with Centaur world Creator Megan Nicole Dong on Netflix’s latest animated comedy, great cast and unique art style.
Tyler Treese: There’s a really incredibly dramatic opening sequence that leads to this warhorse being transported to Centaurworld. How did you come up with this sequence? I ask because it’s so amazing and action packed, and while I really like the show, I kind of want to see it too.
Megan Nicole Dong: I think from the start I always wanted it to really feel like we had a character from one series that was being added to the others, so we wanted it to feel as authentic as possible. And we worked with two different studios to do the two different styles of the show. So we worked with Red Dog Culture House, a studio in South Korea with artists and animators who have worked on a lot of action shows before. So we worked with them on this sequence and many other sequences that came from the horse world for it. And then we worked with Mercury Film Works for all the mushy stretchy Centaur world Stuff, but I’m really happy to hear that it felt like you wanted to see this show because we wanted to invest enough to make it feel like it was our own thing.
You have this great sketchbook available and you can make these cute scary animal designs and we see a lot of them here. When did you discover you had this talent – or maybe it’s a curse, I don’t know – to come up with these designs?
It could be a curse. I am fascinated by biology. I love animals because nature is so strange. And when you look at all of the actual animals that are out there in the world, they are really bizarre and I’ve always artistically enjoyed just taking what’s already there and shoving it into places that are sometimes visually uncomfortable are. That always kind of made me laugh and that was definitely something we wanted to put into the show or get some humor out of it.
I love this core bond between horse and rider and it is on this quest to be reunited. How did you come up with this idea? And are you a big horse or equestrian fan yourself? How did that happen?
I love animals. I’m actually not a horse girl. I didn’t grow up with horses. I enjoy them as, as animals. But this connection between humans and animals was one thing I wanted to explore. And I wanted our main character to be an animal and a warhorse felt like the perfect character for this particular story.
Music is such a big part of the show. What made you go in this direction? And did you work on writing the songs yourself?
Yeah, I love musical theater and all the inspiration for the show came from me, concentrating really hard on my studies and then being accidentally put into a show choir due to a mix up of dates. Like I just ended up in a show choir in my freshman year of high school and really felt out of place, but it kind of got me into pursuing the arts. As if it was the thing that made me realize that for a job I had to do something creative. Music is very important to me. I wrote a lot of the songs and my co-executive producer, Dominic Bisignano, wrote many of the others. So we didn’t, we were in the writer’s room during the whole process and we also wrote the songs and then our composer Toby Chu helped produce them.
So working on the music was a really collaborative experience. But I also think that the fact that we are so familiar with the characters, the story and working on the visuals helped us with the work on the music as well. I think we just really felt connected to these characters. And I always knew that I wanted the music to help tell the story and that the songs weren’t just like songs that happen, but that they were narrative and character based.
You have such a talented voice on the show and Josh Radnor really stands out as a very crazy Durpleton. How much fun was it putting him in the silliest role?
Josh was great to work with. I think this character in particular, Durpleton, was also almost difficult to cast because it would be very easy to play and make fun of, because he’s not the brightest character in the group, but he has a lot of emotional intelligence, although he’s not the smartest centaur there. I think Josh picked that up, of course. He played the character with a lot of sincerity and I think that’s what I loved about his performance. He made this character really, really lovable and had so much real affection for who that character was.
Kimiko Glenn is great in the lead role as Horse and really knows the musical performances. Can you talk about just working with her?
Yes, Kimiko was excellent. She’s such a great singer, but also super funny. And I think Horse’s character has always been difficult because we didn’t want her to just feel like the straight man in this world of all those goofy and absurd characters. We wanted it to be able to hold its own. And Kimiko’s gig brought us a lot of surprises and really helped us learn who that character was and how silly she could be. And I especially think I liked the amount of mischief she put into the role and how much she really played, how excited Horse got about war-related things or fights. And I think she really did a great job.
They recently shared sketches of the original drawings for these characters. How worthwhile is it to see this idea completely transition from concept to final project?
I can’t even put it into words. I started drawing some of these characters five or six years ago. To see her now, to see her now, to move and with the voice that we have is really surreal. I’m just so glad it’s finally here.
There is a very popular genre in Japan, isekai, which is very popular in anime and light novels, where people are immersed in another world. Was that an inspiration for this idea?
I think there are a lot of different shows exploring that right now. Many great creators are roughly the same age. And I think a lot of us have mostly watched movies like Spirited Away and Miyazaki that I think are burned into our brains somewhere. It’s so much fun creating a world from scratch that a character can immerse themselves in. That’s probably why there are so many different people exploring this concept.
Why should people try Centaurworld?
I think the show is pretty unique. It’s very hard to describe the show, but I think we put so many and so many different elements into it. I think there will be something that will surprise everyone. And I think the messages we put there will hopefully appeal to many different age groups as well. I think you should watch the show just to be surprised. Also, they should check it out for the music, graphics and performances that the actors are playing and all the amazing visual work our crew put into it.