A few details have finally dropped about Disney’s upcoming fantasy adventure film, Raya and the Last Dragon. And first things first, it will be the animation powerhouse’s first film ever to be inspired by Southeast Asian culture—including the Philippines! And as their recent slew of “princess stories” (read: Moana, Tangled, Frozen) have had the most badass heroines yet, we can’t wait to see our very own Southeast Asian character take on the adventure of a lifetime.
Disney released the first look at the animation recently, and yup, that definitely looks like a Kris in the heroine’s hand! If that little tidbit doesn’t have you pumped up yet, we round up all the details we know so far about Raya and the Last Dragon.
Disney Wanted to celebrate Southeast Asian culture.
Filmmakers are putting in all the work to make sure Raya is an accurate representation of Southeast Asian culture, according to Entertainment Weekly. There were several countries that influenced the film, including Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Several creative teams were sent to different countries in Southeast Asia specifically to research, said producer Osnat Shurer, who also produced Moana.
The lead character will be voiced by Kelly Marie Tran.
Remember Rose Tico from Star Wars? The actress will be lending her voice to Raya in the film. Plus, she will be the first Southeast Asian-American to lead a Disney animation! Tran is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who fled the decades-long war in the latter half of the 20th century.
Tran will be joined by Awkwafina. The comedian will voice a water dragon named Sisu that has been turned into a human being. At its helm will be directors Don Hall (Moana, Big Hero 6, Emperor’s New Groove) and Carlos López Estrada.
Raya and the Last Dragon Synopsis
The film revolves around our heroine Raya and her trusty steed Tuk Tuk (we’re not sure if it’s a reference to the Thai tricycle), who looks like some type of armadillo crossed with an insect. The pair must leave their home and find the last dragon to stop an evil force threatening Kumandra.
The teaser trailer of Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess is here, and she might be the most badass princess of all. Raya and the Last Dragon follows the fearless warrior Raya as she tries to save her world by finding the last dragon that could reunite her people
As in most Disney animated films, expect a lot of magic and humor. But also a heck of a lot of fighting. The teaser trailer opens with Raya entering a cave, which leads to a brilliant fight that features Arnis sticks. That’s right—the national martial art of the Philippines is getting the spotlight in a Disney
By all accounts, Raya is no damsel in distress. The trailer is accompanied by a kickass soundtrack that promises some epic fight scenes. We can’t wait to see what other Asian martial arts will be featured in the film as Raya’s world is based on many Southeast Asian cultures.
Like other Disney characters, Raya is accompanied by a trusty animal. As Mulan had Mushu the dragon and Moana had Pua the pig, Raya has Tuktuk, a pangolin (“Tuktuk” is actually the Thai word for a trike). Some publications have called it an armadillo, of which there are none in Southeast Asia, so we’re betting that this little guy is actually a pangolin, the most trafficked mammal in the world. It’s been driven to near extinction because of hunters who are eager to sell its scales and meat on the black market. Featuring this little guy in a huge film will hopefully do wonders for conservation efforts.