Our first Southeast Asian Disney Princess has arrived! Yesterday, Disney released the first teaser poster for its upcoming animated film Raya and the Last Dragon. Today, Good Morning America exclusively released the first teaser trailer, and Disney shared some additional stills from the film.
The teaser shows Raya, voiced by Star Wars alumna Kelly Marie Tran, a warrior princess inspired by Southeast Asian cultures, displaying some acrobatics and martial arts like skills, wearing a conical hat and wielding what look to be Filipino Arnis or Escrima sticks.
The tone from the first moment indicates that this is an action adventure focused film. Raya suits up, masks up (very 2020) and opens her cache of weapons. Then she’s off on an Indiana Jones like adventure, presumably in search of Sisu the last dragon (voiced by Awkwafina). Raya’s best friend, the part pill bug, part pug creature Tuk Tuk, adds some fun and cute moments in trademark Disney style. Tuk Tuk was well placed in this brief teaser, providing levity within the dramatic sequences. I didn’t know what to expect when Tuk Tuk was announced back in August, but I’m already a fan after this teaser trailer. My daughter will no doubt want her own plush Tuk Tuk come March.
Many fans online have mentioned that the action and aesthetics are reminiscent of Korra from the popular Nickelodeon series The Legend of Korra. I definitely see the similarities, but have no doubt that Raya will stand on its own and bring an authentic Asian inspired fantasy action story.
I was already incredibly excited about Raya and the Last Dragon simply because I’m a big fan of Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina, greatly appreciate that it’s being written by two Asian-American writers in Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen, and of course that the film represents a huge moment in Asian-American representation. Watching this thrilling teaser though has dramatically increased my hype level. This trailer was damn good.
Fantasy is a genre where I feel Asian-American representation is lacking. It’s hard to identify an iconic Asian-American or Asian inspired fantasy epic beyond the legendary Monkey King stories. That’s partly why shows like Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are so popular, given that they are Asian inspired fantasy tales (and also really exceptional story-telling). Watching the Raya teaser gives me hope that this film might give us our first iconic Asian-American created fantasy epic. That might be asking too much from one film, but I guess those are the pitfalls with representation.
Below is the official description of the film and the exciting teaser. Raya and the Last Dragon is set to premiere in March 2021!
Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well. From directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa, producers Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, and featuring the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as the last dragon Sisu, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters on March 12, 2021.
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.