Aside from the highly-anticipated continuation of Anna and Elsa’s story in the upcoming Frozen II, Disney Animation has been holding out on announcing its next projects for some time now. At Saturday afternoon’s D23 panel in Anaheim, the studio has now revealed the film nabbing that November 2020 slot. A fantasy action-adventure titled Raya and the Last Dragon.
Walt Disney Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee took the stage to announce the project, which was inspired by the cultures of Southeast Asia. The story follows a lone warrior named Raya on a quest to find the last dragon to save the world from a “dark, sinister force” threatening the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra. Check out the newly released concept art from Walt Disney Animation:
Attendees of the panel in Anaheim, California were treated to three minutes of footage from Raya and the Last Dragon. The sneak peek featured Raya (voiced by Degrassi’s Cassie Steele) and her younger brother entering an ancient temple through a lush rainforest. The clip ended with the pair coming in contact with a beautiful pink and teal dragon named Sisu, who will be voiced by Crazy Rich Asians’ Awkwafina (who also recently joined Shang Chi and the live-action Little Mermaid).
Check out Sisu, as revealed at the panel when the Raya and the Last Dragon filmmakers, Cassie Steele, and Awkwafina introduced the 2020 animated adventure on the panel stage:
Sisu can also take the form of an older woman in the movie. Cassie Steele and Awkwafina explained the relationship between their characters with the following words:
Cassie Steele: Raya is ready to meet a magical water being who breathes fog through her nose, flies by riding the raindrops, and has a gem that channels this amazing huge power.
Awkwafina: When Raya first meets [her], she’s in human form and needs Raya’s help to reclaim her power to become her true dragon self.
Steele’s character was also described as an expert swordswoman with a "winning charm." The movie is said to tackle themes of “community” and “hope” in a reimagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization that cherishes the mythos of dragons for their powers and wisdom before they disappeared from the land (except for Sisu). The world has five distinct clans that make up for “Land of the Dragon” and Raya teams up with a crew of misfits throughout her quest to “bring light and unity back to their world."