Netflix has announced that it will be producing and distributing a CG-animated series based on Usagi Yojimbo comic book series, executive produced by creator Seth Sakai. The series is to be produced with Gaumont Animation, with whom Netflix previously worked on F is for Family. Animation will be handled by India-based 88 Pictures, who've worked with Netflix on Trollhunters and Fast & Furious Spy Racers.
The show will not be a direct adaptation of the original comic, but will rather be a sequel following Usagi's descendant Yuichi. Netflix's plot synopsis reads as follows:
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!"
Among the show's production team with Sakai are filmmaker James Wan and Dark Horse's Mike Richardson. Ben Jones (Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teen Titans, The Iron Giant) is Supervising Producer while Khang Le (Big Hero 6, Little Big Awesome) is the Art Director. Veteran animation writer Doug Langdale is showrunner.
Sakai released a statement saying;
"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."
Gaumont President Nicolas Atlan said;
"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."
Usagi Yojimbo first appeared in comics in 1984, following the titular swordsman and his adventures in Japan's Edo period. The series exists in a world with anthropomorphic animals, with Usagi himself a white rabbit ('Usagi' is Japanese for 'rabbit'). Throughout its run, the series has won five Eisner Awards out of over 20 total nominations. The character has previously made several appearances in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise; including episodes of the 1987, 2003, and 2012 animated series.