As a furry, there’s a lot of material I haven’t read, such as the classic comic book series Usagi Yojimbo. This is really surprising, as it’s full of anthro animal characters, and my own fursona’s a bunny!
Well, I might get a chance to experience an animated form of the world of Usagi Yojimbo: During this past ComicCon, I got to see the Stan Sakai and the Usagi Chronicles panel, which detailed an all-new animated series based on the comic.
Wow! That’s now two animal-led animated shows to be excited about!
(The other is the still-in-progress Redwall adaptation.)
If you’re a fan of blade swinging ronin rabbits, read on to find out more about this all-new series.
Terry Kalagain, EVP of producing studio Gaumont, hosted the panel. Joining her was Usagi creator Stan Sakai himself, head writers Doug and Candie Langdale, lead director Ben Jones, art director Kang Le, and later on by some of the voice actors.
According to the cast, Sakai had a say in nearly every aspect of the show, from animations to voice actors. He is notably protective of Usagi, considering it his life’s work.
He has a good reason too. Both Usagi and Sakai have won numerous awards, including nine Eisner Awards and a Life Time Achievement award from the Eisner Awards.
The series, titled Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, takes place 1,000 years into the future. We’re following not the original Miyamoto Usagi, but instead Yuichi Usagi, a teenage descendant.
However, the original Usagi will be making an appearance – according to Sakai, it’s going to be quite the moment.
Yuichi travels to Neo Edo in search of adventure and ends up leading a rag-tag group of fighters after accidentally setting free trapped Yokai. Joining him are the thief fox Kitsune, the rhino bounty hunter Gen, and the cat ninja Chizu. Much like Yuichi, they are all descendants of characters from Miyamoto’s adventures.
Sakai mentioned that even though he typically writes for adults, he is going with younger audiences in mind for the show. So we’ll be following Yuichi, who’s young and brash, as he grows and becomes a samurai warrior like Miyamoto was.
He also praised the “little twist” that the Langdales put on Miyamoto’s appearance.
The idea of writing for younger audiences will be seen throughout the show too. Ben Jones decided to draw inspiration from places like Hong Kong action comedy movies (think Jackie Chan or Stephen Chow) and features sequences like Yuichi standing on a motorcycle while flourishing his sword.
This lighter tone also works into the futuristic, but till 17th-century Japan, look as well. We’ll have flying airships and colorful signs and mascots that blend modern and ancient looks.
Samurai Rabbit will also feature both 2D and CGI animation. Kang Le told us that tales related to Miyamoto, flashbacks, and imagined scenes would be 2D, while the show will feature CGI animation.
I’m always cautious about taking something in 2D and moving it to 3D, but the characters and setting all look great so far.
We also got some insight from the voice actors, who were all super excited to work on the project. Each actor also praised their characters and their stories as well. We even got a surprise visit from Darren Barret, who voices Yuichi.
The panel concluded with a special sneak peek of both a 2D and CGI sequence. After seeing both scenes, I’m rather excited about the show. Yes, I do like rabbits, but potential furry bias aside, it sounds great, and with Sakai essentially at the helm, it sounds like the show will be a winner.
Unfortunately, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles does not have a release date yet. But it will be streaming on Netflix, so keep your eyes open and your top knot-tied ears open!