If you are a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then you might have noticed in some of their animated series the appearance of a particular humanoid animal character. It is a white rabbit dressed like a samurai and armed with a katana or two. That is Usagi Miyamoto, main character of “Usagi Yojimbo,” created by Japanese-born American artist Stan Sakai, who alongside TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, was published by Mirage Comics in the 1980s (where their first crossovers happened). Usagi has been depicted as something of a TMNT supporting cast, but he is foremost his own lead character, as an upcoming Netflix series will demonstrate.
Polygon tells us that Usagi Miyamoto, sort of, is primed to go on his own adventures as main character in “Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles,” an upcoming Netflix Original animated series. Although announced last year, the first images of the series were revealed via online panel at the virtual San Diego Comic-Con@Home this past Sunday, July 25. “Samurai Rabbit” is a collaborative production between Netflix, France’s Gaumont Animation, and current “Usagi Yojimbo” publishers Dark Horse Comics, and actually depicts the descendants of Stan Sakai’s original characters in a hybrid-futuristic setting.
The initial blurb for “The Usagi Chronicles” states that the series is set in an alternate-universe world populated by anthropomorphic animals as with the original “Usagi Yojimbo” comic, but in Japan of the 26th Century. It centers on Yuichi Usagi, a descendant of the original Usagi Miyamoto and a samurai trainee who is tasked to protect the city of Neo-Edo by hunting evil entities called Yoki, accompanied by his pet tokage/lizard Spot, bounty-hunting rhino Gen, Kitsune the vixen thief and cat-ninja Chizu. No one less than “Aquaman” and “Fast 7” director James Wan serves as executive producer for “Samurai Rabbit.”
“Usagi Yojimbo” creator Stan Sakai is hands-on in the development of the series based on his comic books, as expected for having done the series since 1984, with 219 individual issues across multiple publishers. Sakai is already an Eisner Hall of Fame inductee and an Inkpot Awards Lifetime Achievement awardee all for his work with Usagi, and is rather protective of the IP for adaptation. It was only due to being personal friends with Eastman and Laird that his creation became a supporting character for the Ninja Turtles. Thus, all details of the 3D-CGI animated series must meet his approval.
While Netflix has confirmed “Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles” as one of their upcoming Originals, they have yet to give a release date for it.
Image from Comic Book Resources