The upcoming Disney and Kugali afro-futurist science fiction animated series, Iwájú, won’t look or feel like any other Disney objects when it debuts next year.
At the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the crew behind Disney’s and Kugali’s upcoming science fiction series Iwájú discussed like that Afrofuturistic cartoon stands out from the traditional Disney style.
Plot and character details for Iwájú, which was announced at Disney’s Investors Day in December and is expected to premiere on Disney + in 2022, are still under wraps but focus on the class differences in a futuristic version of Lagos, Nigeria. No footage was shown, although Annecy visitors had the opportunity to see a selection of conceptual art that focused on the show’s futuristic architecture and technology. The Panel will be available to Annecy Pass holders until June 19th.
Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation, said that working with the international team at the African studio Kugali opened the eyes of the Disney team: “Working with Ziki [Nelson, director], Tolu [Olowofoyeku, Kugali founder] and Hamida [Ibraham, production designer], it makes us better storytellers at Disney. They made us see storytelling in a different way.“
Iwájú is Disney Animation’s first collaboration with another studio. This is something Lee plans to do more in the future to further diversify the types of stories Disney tells and “help the world hear other artists’ voices”.
Regarding the visual style of the series, Hamid Ibrahim said “It won’t look like normal animation” from Disney, joking that there are no “princesses walking around Nigeria”.
Ziki Nelson elaborated, saying, “If you are familiar with some of the work we have published in Kugali, some of the more unique comics we have put out … they have created new styles based on both Eastern and Western art styles . but found African art styles that fit into that aesthetic to create new art styles that you can’t find anywhere else. “If you look at Kugali’s comic book work and find that Olowofeyeku first started the company as an otaku-centric podcast, you can assume that these “Eastern” influences include anime.
Marlon West, visual effects director at Walt Disney Animation, currently working on Iwájú as well as the upcoming musical Encanto, said that Iwájú, as different as it may be from traditional Disney style, will meet the studio’s high artistic standards. He says, “It might not look like a Disney movie, but it has to be Disney-quality.”
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About the author
(680 published articles)
Reuben Baron is a writer, filmmaker, critic, and general nerd with a particular interest in animation. He is the author of the ongoing webcomic Con Job: Revenge of the SamurAlchemist, adapted from one of his scripts for competitions. In addition to writing for Comic Book Resources, he has published articles on JewishBoston, Anime News Network, Anime Herald, and MyAnimeList. Follow him on Twitter at AndalusianDoge.