The streaming service has commissioned ONI, created by Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, former art director for Pixar.
The series, which will feature a hybrid of both stop motion and computer-generated animation, is set in a world filled with the oddball gods and monsters of Japanese mythology. It follows one of the creature’s free-spirited daughters, Onari, determined to follow in the footsteps of the mighty heroes of lore, but her unique powers are yet to be revealed. Does she have what it takes to protect her peaceful village from the encroaching presence of the mysterious “Oni” who threaten the gods?
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Tsutsumi, who has worked on projects including Ice Age, Robots and Horton Hears a Who! as well as Toy Story 3 and Monsters University, will serve as showrunner on the series. He directed Tonko House’s Oscar-nominated short film The Dam Keeper.
Early development partners for ONI include Japanese stop motion animation house Dwarf Studios, which produced Netflix kids series Rilakkuma and Kaoru and Japanese CG effects house Megalis VFX. Megan Bartel will serve as Producer and Robert Kondo, Kane Lee, and Zen Miyake of Tonko House will exec produce.
It is the latest international animated series for Netflix following shows such as Ghee Happy from Sanjay Patel, Mighty Little Bheem from Rajiv Chilaka, Larva Island from Korea’s TUBAn Co., as well as the upcoming Dino Girl Gauko from Akira Shigino, Mama K’s Team 4 from Malenga Mulendema and Maya and the Three from Jorge Gutierrez.
“Having spent my entire career in the American animation industry, part of me always wondered if there would ever be a place in the stories I tell for the other half of my identity, as a Japanese native. This Tonko House collaboration with Netflix is perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to freely embrace my unique background to share with the rest of the world the wonderful stories I grew up with in Japan, particularly ones I believe are timely to the society we live in today,” said Dice Tsutsumi.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Dice and the rest of the Tonko team on this incredibly sweet story of self-discovery rooted in Japanese folklore. Dice is a renowned filmmaker with a deep passion for celebrating Japanese culture, and we’re honored to support his foray into animated series together with the team at Tonko. We fell in love with Onari and the specific Japanese mythology built around her, and we’re confident that her very personal, relatable story of self-discovery will resonate with audiences around the world,” added Aram Yacoubian, Netflix’s Director, Original Animation.
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