| Madellaine Paxson|
| Jean Louis-Vandestoc|
Tabitha St. Germain
LoliRock is a French animated television series produced by Marathon Media and Zodiak Kids. It was created by Jean Louis-Vandestoc and written by Madellaine Paxson. It first aired in France on 18 October 2014 on France 3, and has expanded to television channels in Europe. It has also been licensed worldwide, with an English dub released to Netflix on 1 May 2016.
Iris is a teenage girl who likes to sing and help others. However, when she sings, strange events happen. Encouraged by her best friend Nathaniel, Iris auditions for a girl rock band, but her power destroys the room and she is later attacked by two strangers. The judges at the audition, Talia and Auriana, come to help her, and they explain to her that she is actually a princess with magical powers who must save her kingdom of Ephedia from the clutches of Gramorr, who has taken over. The only way to save it is to master her powers and to find the Oracle Gems of the Royal Crown of Ephedia, which are scattered across the Earth. Over the course of the series, the three girls try to live as both ordinary teenagers as well as rock stars of the all-girl band "LoliRock", while training Iris in secret and gathering the gems. But when Gramorr sends twin siblings Praxina and Mephisto to fight them and summon monsters to cause chaos, the girls must work together as magical girl warrior princesses.
In season 2, the three girls are joined by Ephedian girls Carissa and Lyna, who also transform into warrior princesses, but are not part of the band. The girls continue gathering Oracle Gems while helping those in need, but Gramorr and the evil twins continue to get stronger as well. When the last oracle gem is collected, Iris faces the reality of having to say goodbye to Nathaniel and returning to Ephedia, but when Gramorr claims the final gem and is freed, the girls work together to face him in one last battle.Iris (voiced by Kazumi Evans in English version, Lisa Caruso in French version) – The lead singer of LoliRock, Iris is a 15-year-old girl living in Sunny Bay; she has wavy blonde hair, fair skin, light blue eyes, pink lips and freckles. She is kind-hearted and willing to help everyone. She has a singing power that seems to enchant everything around her; this power is coveted by Gramorr. She has a crush on her childhood best friend, Nathaniel. After she meets Talia and Auriana, she discovers that she is the crown princess of Ephedia, a magical kingdom, and her duty is to find all the Oracle Gems of the Royal Crown and to reclaim the throne of Ephedia. When she transforms using a pendant, her hair turns rose pink and her clothes turn pink, and she has a heart symbol and a four-pointed star symbol. The production Tumblr said that she gets two symbols because she is in the royal family which rules the realm and the entire planet.
Character designer Bertrand Todesco initially considered Iris as having dark hair that would change to blonde in the transformation, but found that to be a cliche, and instead went with pop and girly colors like Katy Perry. Iris was based on actress Taylor Momsen from Gossip Girl, and the wardrobe was based on a picture of Blake Lively, also from Gossip Girl, in a green dress. He also cited British singer Pixie Lott as a reference.
Talia (voiced by Ashleigh Ball in English version, Kelly Marot in French version) – She sings vocals and plays the keytar and sometimes guitar in LoliRock. She has long dark brown hair with straight bangs, dark skin, and amber eyes. She is serious, kind, and very intelligent. As the second princess of Xeris, she was imprisoned by Gramorr before going on the search for the princess of Ephedia with the help of Auriana. Her transformation item is a bracelet; her hair turns light blue and her clothes become blue. Her symbol is the diamond.
Taila's character reference was French fashion blogger Betty Autier and her wardrobe, Amber Stevens West as she portrayed Ashleigh Owens in the TV series Greek, and singers Keri Hilson and Alicia Keys.
Auriana (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain in English version, Léopoldine Serre in French version) – She sings vocals and plays tambourine in LoliRock. She has auburn hair styled in a ponytail, tan skin, and green eyes. She is bubbly, playful, boy-crazy, and a bit air-headed, but a reliable friend. She is the princess of Volta. Her transformation item is a ring; her hair and clothes turn bright orange, and she sports a longer ponytail. Her symbol is a crescent moon.
Todesco wrote that Auriana's original name was Aurora and that he had pictured her as a black girl with a huge volume of hair, and that Talia would be maybe Asian with long straight hair, but he later changed the hairstyles. He wrote that Auriana was "all the other cool things I like and I couldn’t put on Iris and/or Talia." Auriana's character reference was Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl and Cat Valentine (played by Ariana Grande) from the teen sitcom Victorious. He said that the name choice was a coincidence.
Amaru (vocalizations by Tabitha St. Germain) – A purple and white furry creature with dark blue hair and a fluffy little tail. He has the ability to transform into a winged horse and to transport the princesses and their enemies to a special arena to allow the princesses to fight evil away from any civilians. Todesco created Amaru out of the magical girl concept of having pets such as with Sailor Moon having a cat, and that Amaru would be able to transform into a keyring plush on her bag.
Gramorr (voiced by Mackenzie Gray in English version, Gilles Morvan in French version) – The Grand Wizard of Chaos. He has blond hair and purple eyes, wears a crown as well as a mask that covers his nose and mouth. After betraying the king and queen, Gramorr has taken control of Ephedia. However, in order to gain total control of the kingdom, he must have the royal crown, which is protected by a spell. He is thus unable to leave the castle area and must rely on Praxina and Mephisto to do his work. He has a black panther minion named Banes, which is described by the production Tumblr as the anti-Amaru, and was created to give Gramorr more presence. In early promotions for the series, Gramorr was named Gromar and he was depicted as Iris's evil uncle who imprisoned the king and queen, and had sent his two evil twin nephews to Earth to thwart Lolirock and take the gems, but the idea was scrapped as it would have made him more of a stereotype.
Praxina (voiced by Kelly Sheridan in English version, Karine Foviau in French version) – She has long burgundy-colored hair that typically covers one of her eyes. She loves to belittle people, especially her enemies and her twin brother, the latter of whom she reminds that she was born before. She has a very affirmed personality and often bosses her brother around. Her theme color is red. Her attacks tend to be demonstrations of raw power with explosions and large summoned monsters.
In early concepts of the series, they were considered the two evil twin nephews of Gramorr. Todesco started the design for Praxina and Mephisto on Halloween day of 2011. Todesco originally designed Praxina dressed in black-and-white with a x symbol in her eyes. Todesco's character designer partner Benedicte Claravino went with a night butterfly/moth concept, with a bun hairstyle that extended to long twin tails. Her eyes would be butterflies instead of x's, of which the butterfly brooch stayed with around. Her design was originally approved, but then the producers thought she was too "Japanese" and scary, so he and Benedicte redrew her and came out with a more suitable design. The production Tumblr describes Praxina as an "anti-Iris", so she was given two symbols: lightning for her magic, and butterfly for herself.
Mephisto (voiced by Vincent Tong in English version, Nessym Guetat in French version) – He and his twin sister Praxina are sent to Earth by Gramorr to prevent the princesses from thwarting his master's plans at any price. He has short burgundy-colored hair. He enjoys destroying things, but sometimes acts cheesy, incompetent, and has a short attention span. His theme color is green. Of the two, Mephisto prefers elaborate spells and tricks and bragging about how he's a genius.
He originally had a black-and-white motif along with + symbols in his eyes. Like Praxina, he had a butterfly concept but it was rejected. Director Jean-Louis Vandestoc then suggested a snake symbol and a half-hidden face. Mephisto's design was eventually approved without the hidden face part.
Nathaniel (voiced by Matt Ellis in English version, Hugo Brunswick in French version) – Iris's childhood best friend. He has short cocoa brown spiky hair. He knows Iris at heart, and often encourages her with kindness and a little humor. He and Iris harbor crushes on each other. Nathaniel works at the smoothie shop the girls frequent. In early promotions for the series back in 2013, Senior VP Patricia de Wilde said Nathaniel was Iris's boyfriend and the only outsider that would know of the band's secret.
Aunt Ellen (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain in English version, named Tante Ellen and voiced by Magali Rosenzweig in French version) – Iris's adoptive guardian, she has taken care of her since she was a baby. She is a cheerful lady who likes to take care of her garden. In the start of the series, she takes in Talia and Auriana as exchange students. In the season 2 episode "Truth Be Told", it is revealed that her real name is Ellira, an Ephedian bodyguard to Iris's parents who is tasked with raising Iris and protecting her on Earth.
Doug (voiced by James Kirk in English version, Julien Crumpon in French version) – He has blond hair and typically wears a brown hat with a pink band. He debuts in Episode 13, "Batty". He is LoliRock's number-one fan and writes a blog about them, gushing over different things and happenings about them. Doug can be gullible sometimes due to his innocence.
Missy Robins (voiced by Ashleigh Ball in English version, named Suzy Robins and voiced by Audrey Sable in French version) – Iris's childhood rival who debuts in episode 2 "Flower Power". She grayish-black hair and yellow-green eyes. As the daughter of the mayor of Sunny Bay, she acts spoiled and vain. When asked whether Missy was based on rival character Mandy in Totally Spies!, the production Tumblr wrote that Missy was not based on her, even though she looks like her. They wanted a character that would be a love rival and a pest, and went with a brunette hair color to contrast Iris being a blonde, calling it a "classic trope".
Izira (voiced by Chiara Zanni in English version, Jessica Monceau in French version) – Talia's older sister from Xeris. She possesses a great power, and is deemed to be a powerful, responsible and intelligent princess. Talia lost track of her since the attack of Gramorr on Xeris. It is later revealed that she was imprisoned in the prison fortress Krozak on Ephedia. In the show, she first appears in "Xeris". She has white hair, dark skin, and mulberry blue eyes. She returns in the season 1 finale episode "Home", where she leads a resistance movement against Gramorr. In the production Tumblr, she is nine years older than Talia, and her design was based mainly on imagining what Talia would look like in the future. To distinguish herself from Talia, she was designed with slightly darker skin tone and lighter hair. Her symbol is three diamonds.
Lev (voiced by Sam Vincent in English version, Yoann Bellot Sover in French version) – An Ephedian thief who initially appears as a fellow prisoner of Gramorr in the season 1 finale episodes and goes with Iris when they try to escape from their cells. However, it is soon revealed that he has been working for Gramorr all along (as he was the highest bidder) to get her to release the crown. His magic crest bears the symbol of an eagle.
Lyna (voiced by Kelly Sheridan in English version, Marie Nonnenmacher in French version) – A princess of Borealis, she debuts in "Home Part I". In her magical princess state, she has light green hair. She is shy, but brave, light-hearted, and sophisticated. She loves crystal tea and is proud that her castle had won awards for most beautiful. She and Carissa helped free Izira from Gramorr and joined her resistance movement. Her transformation item is a hair pin, and her symbol is a fleur-de-lys. Her weapon is a chakram (ring), but she prefers to use levitation in her spells. At the end of the first season, she joins the LoliRock girls on Earth where she has long straight black hair, medium skin, and violet eyes. As with Carissa, she is neither part of the band nor lives with them at Aunt Ellen's, but appears in some of the episodes. Her transformation sequence is inspired by Sailor Moon, specifically Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, and they are shorter transformations than the main three girls for production reasons and because it would have been boring.
Carissa (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain in English version, Fanny Bloc in French version) – A princess of Calix, she also debuts in "Home Part I". In her magical princess state, she has purple hair. She likes to show off her fighting skills, enjoys having bruises, and is fired up whenever she's fighting. After she and Lyna free Izira, she joins the latter's resistance movement. Her transformation item is an armlet and her symbol is a compass rose. Her weapon is a pair of clubs, and she prefers close-quarters combat. At the end of the first season, she joins the LoliRock girls on Earth, where she has red-orange hair styled in a fishtail braid, light skin and blue eyes. Storyboarder Christelle Abgrall wrote that Carissa's transformation was inspired by Sailor Uranus and her main attack.
Jean-Louis Vandestoc drew inspiration for LoliRock from watching anime in his childhood that was broadcast on the French channels, including Sherlock Hound, Space Adventure Cobra, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, and Dragon Ball, but his most influential title he watched was Magical Princess Minky Momo. He wrote "I loved the very core of it : a child transforming into an adult, helping people and making good deeds, the nice chara design, and finally the tone of the show : it could be funny and light, but also dramatic and tearful at other times. My soul was marked forever." After working on French cartoons Monster Buster Club and Rekkit Rabbit he wanted to make a magical girl show. He chose Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure as references for the magical girl part, and Jem and the Holograms for the music career part.
The producers at Marathon Media asked designers to draw Iris for a magical girl project as a teenage alien princess with ice/crystal powers. Character designer Bertrand Todesco drew inspiration from Betty Autier, a French fashion blogger of "le blog de betty". She had dark hair and straight bangs, but Todesco figured the producers wanted a blonde girl for a lead, so he went with the look of Jenny Humphrey of the TV series Gossip Girl, portrayed by Taylor Momsen. The producers also wanted the girls' irises to be star-shaped. Autier's appearance as well as her wardrobe was retained for Talia.
Following the initial picture, Todesco needed to design a princess/rockstar outfit, of which he chose a green dress worn by Blake Lively. The color was changed to pink as green was not suitable for merchandising. Todeco added a magical pet creature in the custom of Sailor Moon, which would later become Amaru. He designed in the hair streaks for when the girls were rock stars, and dresses that weren't so frilly that they would be complicated to draw.
In designing Talia and the then-named Aurora, Todesco originally started with a black girl and an Asian girl with typical hairstyles, but later changed his mind. He then found inspirations from other Gossip Girl characters as well as actresses Amber Stevens West and Ariana Grande, the latter of whom was how she acted in the teen sitcom Victorious rather than her current pop singer image. He also referenced Keri Hilson and Alicia Keys. Victorious was also the inspiration for some of the key visuals he used in promoting the series to get funding.
Early promotions of the series pictured the antagonist named Gromar to be an evil uncle of Iris who imprisoned the king and queen, and that he sent his two evil twin nephews to Earth to thwart Lolirock and take the gems. Paxson said that they abandoned the idea as it would have made him more of a stereotype. Todesco originally conceived of antagonists Praxina and Mephisto to have guitar playing sound powers that would counter the girls' singing voice powers but the idea was abandoned. After several iterations, Praxina's final design was approved where she would have a butterfly brooch and motif, while Mephisto's was approved later, after director Jean-Louis had suggested he have a snake motif and a half-covered face. Eventually Gramorr would have the covered face,
The design for the crystal magic circles and related animation was first done in 2D based off some reference pictures. Different colors and symbols were assigned to each character. It was later created in CGI. Animation tools used include Toon Boom Harmony, Adobe After Effects, and Blender.
LoliRock head writer Madellaine Paxson, who had worked on children's shows Making Fiends, Power Rangers RPM as well as the horror film Blood Punch, described the themes of the show as: friendship and love, magic, singing / music, and good vs. evil. She said the hardest part in writing an episode is the beginning and also in integrating the themes along with a story with a person that needs help. Her favorite scenes from the show were where the princesses are together doing ordinary teenage girl things as they had opportunities for comedy. She summarized the show as having something for everybody, very girly, but good action too. In the press release, Zodiak Kids describe the show as having a "cast of characters that are aspirational role models for a generation of children for whom justice has become a core value". Jean-Louis Vandestoc chose a band concept for the series as it was different from his other shows which involved characters that went to school and then saved the world. The school part was replaced by the girls training or rehearsing for the concert.
According to posts on the production Tumblr, LoliRock is classified as somewhere between a script-driven and storyboard-driven show. They started with a full script and then recorded lines with scratch voices or final voices, as re-recording after storyboarding would be costlier. The storyboard is then worked on, and some of the storyboard artists and supervisor adding and changing things they felt were important such as with the kiss scene in the Shanila episode and the Iris becoming a dark princess. Storyboard stage also included fixes for continuity and plot holes.
The music score was composed and produced by Norbert "Yellowshark" Gilbert, with about 600 tracks over the course of the 52 26-minute episodes. Five recurring songs (including the theme song) were recorded for each season. Due to limited resources in production, the team posted that Iris would be the only one singing on those songs, so they recorded Yasmin Shah in English and then developed the music videos. After realizing that it would be unnatural for the other girls to not sing, they designed Iris to have a microphone while the others would just sing along. They considered recording singing for Talia and Auriana but were constrained by budget. Cassandre Berger provided the singing on the French dub. The voices were then mixed. As the dialog was done later, the voice actors only sang on the incidental bits such as rehearsals.
For season 1, the French voices were recorded at Lylo studios in Paris, France, while the English voices were recorded at Vida Spark Productions in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The episodes were written and dubbed in English first and then adapted into French.
Zodiak Media announced LoliRock in April 2013 at the MIPTV event in Cannes, France. Early promotions included the idea of princesses with magical singing voices. The demographic target audience is girls ages 6 to 12, and the group has partnered with France Televisions and Disney Channel France. Marathon Media CEO Vincent Chalvron-Demersay and General Manager David Michel said that "LoliRock is a fresh, contemporary take on what it is to be a girl today, infused with music and magical adventures and the all-important notion of justice in today's teenage world. It's a perfect companion piece to Totally Spies!, which has been so successful in this same space." In comparing the promotion of the show to that of Totally Spies!, Zodiak senior vice-president Patricia de Wilde said that Zodiak made sure the premise was made clear for the new show.
The five songs were publicized as music videos on YouTube. Plans were also made to create live-action LoliRock bands in various markets, such as Super TV's contest held online and among major cities in Italy. A website was launched with videos, games, and message boards. Promotional toys were also offered at Quick restaurants as well as McDonald's. An app was developed for the music which Zodiak senior vice-president Patricia de Wilde said was a "sort of cross between K-Pop and Katy Perry."
The show premiered on France 3 on 18 October 2014. running for 13 episodes until March 2015.
On 26 January 2016, Zodiak Kids published an article officially announcing that BatteryPOP had acquired AVOD (streaming) rights to LoliRock for one year.
On 1 April, France Televisions announced the release of episodes on France 4, and Disney France. Zodiak also reported that Italy would launch LoliRock on De Agostini Editore's Super! DTT channel. France 4 began broadcasting the 13 episodes on 4 April 2016.
On 1 May, the first season of the series was released on Netflix, whose service reaches over 190 countries.
The LoliRock producers released the four episodes of season 2 on YouTube on December 2016, and anticipate the show will air on France 4 in January or February 2017.
Ella Anders of BSC Kids wrote that LoliRock "plays it clear as a magical girl series and even nods other iconic shows in the genera" such as Pretty Cure and Sailor Moon, but that it is "grand in its own right and should be held up as a great magical girl series". She liked the diverse cast, plot, humor and background story, the last of which she had not seen since My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and that it was a type of show she would have loved growing up.
Heather Newman of Forbes magazine described the series as "A French animated series about an impossibly thin, stylish, magical girl who sings."
When asked whether LoliRock would have a cross-over episode with French magical girl show Miraculous Ladybug, Thomas Astruc, who was the creator and director on Miraculous and a storyboarder on LoliRock, said it was unlikely given they are from two different production companies, but that the animation community is small and that both companies share the same love of animation. He has posted about the two being cousin shows.
The game LoliRock, available on iOS and Android, and it contains a set of rhythm (3D dance) and karaoke games (French and English) and offers the opportunity to customize a player Studio 10. It was developed and published by Bulkypix and was released in 2014.
Zodiak has also worked a deal with publishing company Hachette Jeunesse to create novels, activity books, stationery, and e-books.