Home » New Disney+ Series Brings Lagos to Life in Sci-Fi Adventure

New Disney+ Series Brings Lagos to Life in Sci-Fi Adventure

A new animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria, explores themes of class, innocence, and challenging the status quo

by Victor Adetimilehin

Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, has teamed up with Kugali, a pan-African media company, to create a groundbreaking animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. The series, titled Iwájú, which means “the future” in Yoruba, is the first original long-form animated series produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It premiered on Disney+ on February 28, 2024, and consists of six episodes.

A unique collaboration

The series is the result of a unique collaboration between Disney and Kugali, which was founded in 2017 by three African creators: Olufikayo Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim, and Tolu Olowofoyeku. The trio wanted to showcase the rich and diverse stories, cultures, and perspectives of Africa through comics, animation, and games. They caught the attention of Jennifer Lee, the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, who saw a BBC story in which Ibrahim said their creations would “kick Disney’s ass in Africa”.

Lee was impressed by Kugali’s boldness and work on African comics, and reached out to them to propose a partnership. The result was Iwájú, a series that combines Disney’s animation expertise and global reach with Kugali’s authentic vision and cultural insight.

A futuristic Lagos

Iwájú is set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria, a megacity that is home to more than 20 million people. The series depicts a vibrant and diverse city that is full of technological innovations and social challenges. The story follows Tola, a 10-year-old girl from a wealthy family who lives on the island, and her best friend Kole, a 13-year-old tech whizz and domestic worker who lives on the mainland. Their friendship is put to the test by Bode, a tech villain who runs a criminal kidnapping ring.

The series draws inspiration from the real-life experiences of the creators, who have lived in or visited Lagos. They wanted to capture the spirit, energy, and complexity of the city, as well as its potential and problems. They also wanted to explore themes such as class, innocence, inequality, and questioning the status quo, and how they affect the lives of young people in Africa.

A visual feast

The series is a visual feast that showcases the unique and stunning elements of Lagos, from its island geography to its lagoon markets and traffic jams. The animation is provided by Cinesite, a leading visual effects and animation studio, with pre-production and storyboard supervision at Disney’s Burbank and Vancouver studios.  Furthermore, the series features original score composed by Ré Olunuga, a Nigerian-British musician and producer.

The series also features a talented voice cast that includes Simisola Gbadamosi, Dayo Okeniyi, Femi Branch, Siji Soetan, and Weruche Opia. Gbadamosi, who plays Tola, said she was honored to be part of the project and to represent her culture and heritage. She said the series was “a beautiful and empowering story that celebrates the richness and diversity of Africa”.

A global success

The series has received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, who praised its originality, creativity, and representation. The series has been hailed as a milestone for African animation and a game-changer for the industry. It has also been nominated for several awards, including the Annie Awards and the Peabody Awards.

Moreover, the series has also been a hit on Disney+, where it has attracted millions of viewers from around the world. The series has been dubbed in several languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and Mandarin. The series has also sparked a lot of interest and curiosity about Lagos and Nigeria, and has inspired many fans to learn more about the culture and history of the continent.

Additionally, the series has also been a source of pride and joy for many Africans, who have expressed their appreciation and admiration for the series and its creators.  Also, the series has been seen as a positive and inspiring portrayal of Africa, and a testament to the talent and potential of African storytellers.

Source: Punch


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