Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo set for a new animated Netflix adventure

Legendary cartoonist Stan Sakai’s longtime comic books epic adventure , Usagi Yojimbo, is coming to Netflix as an adapted new animated series. French TV company Gaumont has already begun production on what will be a CG-animated kid series titled: Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles.

This series will be very different from the Edo Japanese era, setting forth a fresh foundation for our samurai rabbit. Described “is a series takes place in the far future, set in a world that mixes modern high-tech images with classic Japanese references. It follows the teenage Rabbit Samurai Yuichi, descendent of the great warrior Miyamoto Usagi, on his epic quest to become a true samurai. But he isn’t alone! He leads a ragtag team of misfit heroes – including a roguish bounty hunter, a cunning ninja, an acrobatic pickpocket and a faithful pet lizard – as he battles depth-charging moles, metal-tipped winged bats, and monsters from another dimension, all in the pursuit to become the best samurai Usagi!”

The will have the original Usagi creator, writer, artist, Stan Sakai on board as the Executive Producer, along with Gaumont (Executive Producers Nicolas Atlan, Terry Kalagian, Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee), Dark Horse Entertainment (Executive Producers Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg and Chris Tongue), and Atomic Monster (Executive Producers, James Wan, Michael Clear and Rob Hackett). Candie and Doug Langdale (Maya and the Three, The Book of Life, Puss in Boots, Niko and the Sword of Life, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness) are attached as executive producers and showrunners. Ben Jones (Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teen Titans, Iron Giant) is Supervising Producer while Khang Le (Big Hero 6, Little Big Awesome) will serve as Art Director on the series. Mumbai-based 88 Pictures (Trollhunters, 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, Fast & Furious Spy Racers) has been appointed as the CGI animation studio.

The comic series meanwhile is well-known to the comics industry for nearly four decades with many awards including including a Parents’ Choice Award, an American Library Association Award, and the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Award. It’s still has an enormous fandom, with creator-owned roots that began alongside the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the mid-1980s, for which Usagi has also crossed over with in both the TMNT comics and animated series episodes.

Stan Sakai, legendary creator, writer and illustrator of the comic-book series speaks optimically of the new series in a recent press release, “It is a pleasure working with Gaumont and Netflix. I am involved in each step of the production and am enthusiastic with the direction we are going into. It is wonderful to expand the Usagi universe by collaborating with so many talented people. I am working with an awesome team and I’m looking forward to finally seeing an Usagi series on the screen! I thank my wonderful fans, friends and family for their support and encouragement over the last 35+ years.”

No release date has been set for the new Netflix series.

Editor Captain’s note: Personally, I am excited for this, though I would rather a more classic hand-drawn style than a CGI look. We shall wait for some visual previews, and hope it’s creative style matches the storytelling and direction that takes Usagi as something with more heart and care, than just being a sword-wielding cartoon rabbit.

Netflix acquires Millarworld comics brand

Netflix Inc. recently announced today its acquisition of Mark Millar’s created line of comics aka “Millarworld.”

The Millerworld published titles in recent years include hit comic series titles including Jupiter’s Legacy, Chrononauts, Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Starlight, Empress, Huck, Reborn, and much more. Comics writer Mark Millar launched his creative line in 2004 and has built upon it ever since. Kick-Ass, Kingsman is said to not be included in the deal, though details are yet disclosed.

Together, Netflix and Millar will bring Millarworld’s portfolio of critically and fan-acclaimed character franchises to life through films, series and kids’ shows available exclusively to Netflix members globally. Millarworld will also continue to create and publish new stories and character franchises under the Netflix label.

The acquisition, the first ever by Netflix, is a natural progression in the company’s effort to work directly with prolific and skilled creators and to acquire intellectual property and ownership of stories featuring compelling characters and timeless, interwoven fictional worlds. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

“As creator and re-inventor of some of the most memorable stories and characters in recent history, ranging from Marvel’s The Avengers to Millarworld’s Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Wanted and Reborn franchises, Mark is as close as you can get to a modern day Stan Lee,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “We can’t wait to harness the creative power of Millarworld to Netflix and start a new era in global storytelling.”

“This is only the third time in history a major comic book company has been purchased at this level,” said Millar. “I’m so in love with what Netflix is doing and excited by their plans. Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn’t have a better home.”

Millar, who runs Millarworld with his wife Lucy Millar, is one of the most consistent hitmakers in the graphic novel and comics world. In his eight years at Marvel, he developed the comic books and story arcs that inspired the first Avengers movie, Captain America: Civil War, and Logan (Wolverine), which collectively grossed over $3 billion in worldwide box office. Since Millarworld was started, the company and its co-creators have given birth to eighteen published character worlds, of which three, Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman, have yielded theatrical films that together have grossed nearly $1 billion in global box office.

“Mark has created a next-generation comics universe, full of indelible characters living in situations people around the world can identify easily with,” added Sarandos. “We look forward to creating new Netflix Originals from several existing franchises as well as new super-hero, anti-hero, fantasy, sci-fi and horror stories Mark and his team will continue to create and publish.”

Netflix adds Matt Groening’s new animated Disenchantment to its queue

Netflix recently announced the addition of Disenchantment to its queue, an adult animated comedy fantasy series from the mind of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. 20 episodes are now ordered.

In Disenchantment, viewers are whisked away to the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland, where they will follow the misadventures of hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo, and her personal demon Luci. Along the way, the oddball trio will meet ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, walruses, and lots of human fools.

“Ultimately,” says Matt Groening, “Disenchantment will be about life and death, love and sex, and how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you.”

The series will feature the voice talents of Abbi Jacobson (“Bean”), Nat Faxon (“Elfo”) and Eric Andre (“Luci”), along with John DiMaggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Matt Berry, Jeny Batten, Rich Fulcher, Noel Fielding, and Lucy Montgomery. The animation is being done by Rough Draft Studios (Futurama).

Disenchantment will première on Netflix ten episodes at a time, starting off in 2018, produced by The ULULU Company for Netflix, with Matt Groening and Josh Weinstein (The SimpsonsFuturama) serving as executive producers.

“Matt Groening’s brilliant work has resonated with generations around the world and we couldn’t be happier to work with him on Disenchantment,” said Cindy Holland, Vice President, Original Content for Netflix. “The series will bear his trademark animation style and biting wit, and we think it’s a perfect fit for our many Netflix animation fans.”

Picture credit: Gage Skidmore, 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International

Netflix Announces “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” Prequel Series

After nearly 35 years, The Dark Crystal Jim Henson classic fantasy film officially returns as a new 10-episode direct to Netflix series, in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.

The new series was recently announced and greenlit by Netflix, in collaboration with The Jim Henson Company as an initial exclusive to Netflix subscribers. The Jim Henson Company starts shooting this Fall 2017, in the U.K., and will star an ensemble of fantastical, state-of-the-art creatures created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and Brian Froud, the original feature’s conceptual designer.

The 10-episode fantasy adventure series is a prequel to the original fan-favorite The Dark Crystal and takes place many years before the events of the classic original film. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance returns to the world of Thra with an all new adventure. When three Gelfling discovers the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, they set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.

Feature film director Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me, The Incredible Hulk) will executive produce the series and direct. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will be a Netflix original series produced by The Jim Henson Company and executive produced by Letterier, Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford. Longtime Henson collaborator Rita Peruggi will serve as producer and Henson’s Blanca Lista will serve as a co-executive producer. Leading the writing are co-executive producers Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews (Life in a Year), and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, The 100).

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will combine the art of puppetry perfected by The Jim Henson Company, with Louis’ vision, powerful storytelling and a mix of cutting-edge digital imagery and visual effects,” said Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content at Netflix. “I can’t wait for families around the world to see how we bring these unique characters to life.”

“Louis Leterrier is passionate about the world of The Dark Crystal and has an incredible creative vision for the series. He brings this passion to every facet of the production as he leads the talented team of artists and writers that are bringing this entire universe to life,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company. “Netflix has a deep respect for my father’s original work and the many people it inspired. They are the perfect partners to create this next epic chapter in The Dark Crystal story for new fans and the loyal fans who have waited so long for more adventures from this world.”

A Stranger Look at STRANGER THINGS, Season 1

Recently, the movie streaming company Netflix has expanding their horizons by taking the film industry into their own hands by producing original content. These series and movies as a whole have taken off in popularity, creating some of the most loved and watched shows today.

Today’s look will focus their recent series: Stranger Things.

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    • Created by: The Duffer Brothers
    • Executive Producer: The Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen
    • Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine
    • Genre: TV Shows, TV Sci-Fi and Fantasy
    • Production: 21 Laps Entertainment
    • Distributor: Netflix
    • Release Date: July 15th, 2016

Synopsis:

“When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one strange little girl”

Personal Thoughts (Spoilers): 

Stranger Things provides the viewer a gateway back to November 1983 into the small, fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Unlike a large majority of dated media, the series does not coin itself on being a 1980’s show. Instead, the viewer drifts through the atmosphere created, transporting themselves back into a middle school and high school environment while following the main protagonists. The main characters, a group of middle school outcasts by the names of Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair, provide an easy and quick relation to not only themselves but the story itself.

After a brief introduction to the main cast of characters through a D&D campaign, the plot begins its launch when Will Byers goes missing; taken by a mysterious, unrecognizable creature. It is through this launch that the understanding of certain characters becomes more noticeable; such as the mother and brother of the missing boy.

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The mother, Joyce Byers, gains easy sympathy upon the sudden loss of her son. Characterized by dedication and love for her son, there is no stop to how hard she will try to get him back. I love that despite how different and weird he is from the rest of the family, Joyce does not try to change a thing, instead embracing his differences. By supporting him and his interests, the mother provides a stable ground for Will to walk on, providing a loving support system. Despite her constant need to work to aid the house and family, she takes time to bond with her son. Despite being in middle school, she got him tickets to see Poltergeist; a movie shows interest in. She knows the password to get into his personal space and uses it, respecting his privacy and authority of the area.

When Will Byers goes missing, her dedication and perseverance kick in. Joyce goes on an emotional roller coaster trying to save him from an unknown force. This high-powered emotion becomes her downfall that when she reaches out to anyone for help, they accuse her of being crazy and distraught. Despite this, she is not stopped. Joyce knows what is right and sticks to it, trying her hardest to bring her son back safe and sound. There is something heartbreaking about a misunderstood and mistrusted mother tearing her house apart, trying to get answers about her missing son.

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The series does a wonderful job of building suspension without reaching cheesy or campy levels. To fit the mysterious tone, the viewer only discovers clues and aspects at the same time as the characters, creating it to be more inclusive and absorbing. This suspension is built through mystery, light and shadows, and tone. Earthy and deep colors are mainly employed, creating a naturally dark ambiance even if the setting takes place in broad daylight.  I love how through the colors and lack thereof, they manage to make strings of Christmas lights look ominous.

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Recently, news has arisen that Stranger Things will return for a second season. Moving on from the original story line, the plot and characters will cycle over as the mysteries of Hawkins, Indiana continue. With season one being such a riveting success, the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, are hoping for a few more seasons to build and expand characters and the lore of the land.

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I do not feel that Stranger Things should get this second season or any more seasons that the producers are hoping for. As a whole, it presents itself as a short series of eight episodes, all pieced together in a fluid and complete story line.  Upon the ending of the last episode, the viewer leaves with a sense of completion; all loose ends wrapped up and accounted for. In no way does that seem like a good or legitimate way to begin up again in the second season. Unless there is a completely new cast following an entirely new story line, the endings of season one would make no sense in comparison to the beginnings of season two. Unfortunately, this is not what the producers are planning.

I feel that this series is much like the Cartoon Network short of Over the Garden Wall. This is mainly due to the short and complete feeling that surrounds both series. The fluidity of the story lives among itself and itself alone, providing no wiggle room for continuation. Given the film industry’s obsession with sequels, this action is no surprise. To have a one-shot series would be a delight, but gaining a season two is definitely not the end of the world. Ultimately, I am looking forward to seeing how the producers can expand upon the world.

Katherine A