Netflix and Gaumont announce new comedy-action CGI animated kids series Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles based on the globally successful 35-year-old comic book, Usagi Yojimbo, from award-winning creator Stan Sakai.
The 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 series is produced in partnership with Stan Sakai, the legendary creator, writer and illustrator of the comic-book series who will serve as 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.
Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles kids animated series coming to Netflix
The acclaimed comic series has received a number of awards over the last three decades, including Parents’ Choice Award, an American Library Association Award, and the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Award. Usagi Yojimbo has also been named on Empire Magazine’s Top 50 comic-book characters of all time, IGN’s Top 100 comic-book characters of all time and Rolling Stone’s Top 50 non-superhero graphic novels. Sakai is a six-time Eisner Award winner, the recipient of multiple Haxter Awards, and won the Best Cartoonist Harvey Award in 2016.
Nicolas Atlan, President, Gaumont U.S.: “All of us at Gaumont were honored when Stan trusted us to develop his iconic property into an animated series. This is a first for Usagi Yojimbo. We are thrilled to have Netflix on board as our creative partner so we can together, with the combined artistic talent of Stan Sakai, Dark Horse Entertainment and Atomic Monster take this iconic brand to the next level.”
Stan Sakai, legendary creator, writer and illustrator of the comic-book series: “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.”
Stan Sakai was born in Kyoto, Japan, and grew up in Hawaii. He began his comic book career by lettering Sergio Aragonés’ Groo the Wanderer. He also worked with Stan Lee, lettering the Spider-Man Sunday newspaper strips for 25 years. Sakai is most famous for his original creation, Usagi Yojimbo, an epic graphic novel saga that began in 1984 and now spans more than 34 volumes. It features Miyamoto Usagi, a samurai rabbit living in early-seventeenth-century Japan. Usagi has been published in sixteen languages and Sakai has been honored with a number of awards, including six Eisner Awards, two Harvey Awards including one for Best Cartoonist, the Japanese American National Museum’s Cultural Ambassador Award, Parent’s Choice Award, and an American Library Association Award. Skillful weaving of history, folklore, and Japanese culture into his work has made Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo a favorite among educators as a curriculum tool. Usagi has also been a part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their TV series, comic book crossovers, and toy lines. Stan is married to artist Julie Fujii Sakai with whom he collaborates on Chibi Usagi and other projects.