Netflix debuts its newest offering, “After School,” a programming push aimed at younger children, with Oni: The Thunder God’s Tale, an animated show rooted in Japanese mythology. Oni is led by its creator and showrunner, Dice (Daisuke) Tsutsumi, who co-directed The Dam Keeper, an 2014 Academy-Award nominated short film.
Oni takes place in a world of Japanese gods and monsters, as one of the creatures free-spirited daughters attempts to find adventure by playing by her own rules. As Onari tries to protect her village and her friends, her powers remain mysterious and unrevealed. The show will follow Onari as she attempts to follow in the footsteps of ancient heroes and legends, even as mysterious demons, called Oni, knock on her door.
Besides the fantastic character designs, there’s something really lovely about the animation of this trailer, which has a intentionally reduced, slightly choppy framerate for the characters as they bounce, fly, and run through the forest. While clearly inspired by stop-motion animation, which was practically done to great effect in contemporary Western titles like Kubo and the Two Strings by Laika, there is also a deeper connection with this animation style that speaks to traditional Eastern watercolor animation. Animation Obsessive has an incredible article about this art style, which was developed in the 50s, lost soon after, and is now being reinvented by Chinese animators, that’s well worth checking out if you’re interested!
“The story of a brave girl caught between two worlds divided is, at its core, not only a very personal story for me, but one that’s become personal for everyone involved including our absolute dream cast,” said Tsutsumi in a press release. “Every one of these incredible talents from our dream list accepted with such passion and empathy for the story, and collaborating with them has been equally humbling and inspiring. They’ve given souls to our characters and unparalleled performances for our animators.”
Oni will be available on Netflix “soon,” according to the streamer.