(Header photo: Stan Sakai)
Usagi Yojimbo, creator Stan Sakai‘s iconic sword-wielding rabbit, is coming to the small screen. Variety reports that Netflix and Gaumont Animation are teaming to create a CGI animated series based on the character. The series will be executive produced by Sakai, titled Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, along with a handful of others including Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Entertainment and James Wan.
According to Variety, the series won’t be a straight adaptation of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series, but will use the comics as lore for a series set in the far future. The story will follow Rabbit Samurai Yuichi, a descendant of Miyamoto Usagi, and “a ragtag team of misfit heroes” who accompany him on his quest to live up to his ancestor’s legacy.
Sakai initially teased the animated series almost exactly one year ago, in a tweet saying he had met with Gaumont about the project:
We had another meeting with Gaumont last week and we are delighted and could not be happier or more enthused as to how the project is developing! pic.twitter.com/TyKygv2hnh
— Stan Sakai (@usagiguy) July 16, 2019
In a statement accompanying the announcement, Sakai expressed his enthusiasm about bringing Usagi Yojimbo to the screen:
“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,” said Sakai in a statement. “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.”
The involvement of Richardson as an executive producer may lead to some head-scratching, as Usagi Yojimbo, which had been published by Dark Horse Comics, moved over to IDW last year. Dark Horse Comics and Dark Horse Entertainment are two different things, though, and while the production company has primarily been behind adaptations of Dark Horse Comics projects, they’ve also produced non-DH Comics projects, including two 30 Days of Night films (also an IDW-published series).
No word yet on a planned release date on Netflix for Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles.