Walt Disney Animation Studios announced its first collaboration with Kugali Media – an entertainment company “focused on storytelling inspired by African culture using comics, art and animation.
These stories, according to Kugali media, respect history, embrace the present, and envision Africa’s future.”
At Friday’s D23 Expo, Disney revealed a first look at streaming Iwájú on Disney+ in 2023. Described as a love letter to Lagos, Nigeria, the original animated series is expected to tell the story of African cultural history using a futuristic set.
Written and directed by Kugali co-founder Ziki Nelson, “Iwaju” is set in a futuristic version of Lagos, Nigeria and follows two children, Tola and Kole, growing up on opposite sides of a city sharply divided between rich and poor.
Their friendship is tested by Bode, a tech pioneer whose futuristic advances hide a criminal underworld he rules with an iron fist.
A preview of the series features an Afrofuturistic story that Nelson says will have plenty of color and action, and like so many Disney stories, there’s an animal companion for the ride in the form of a robotic salamander named Otin. But the series also tackles social issues that Lagos faces in real life, specifically the growing inequality faced by its residents.
IWAJU will be the first collaboration between Walt Disney Animation Studios and Kugali. The original series will arrive on Disney+ in 2023.
In the first image of the series, we not only see the main characters, but also an adorable lizard that appears to have unusual powers and unique markings. In the background, city buildings are interspersed with drones, flying cars, and other science fiction technology.
Notably, this is Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first collaboration with an outside studio.