‘Iwaju': Disney’s First Project With an Outside Studio Travels to a Futuristic Nigeria

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“Iwaju,” a new animated series coming to Disney+ next year, will be the first co-production between Disney Animation and an outside studio. The founders of that studio, African animation company Kugali, were on hand at the D23 Expo in Anaheim to show what’s in store.

Written and directed by Kugali co-founder Ziki Nelson, “Iwaju” is set in a futuristic version of Lagos, Nigeria and follows two kids, Tola and Kole, who grow up on opposite sides of a city sharply divided by the haves and have-nots. Their friendship is tested by Bode, a tech pioneer whose futuristic advances hide a criminal underworld he runs with an iron fist.

A sneak preview of the series shows an Afrofuturist tale that Nelson says will have plenty of color and action, and like so many Disney tales, there’s an animal companion along for the ride in the form of a robotic salamander named Otin. But the series also tackles social theme facing Lagos in real-life, most notably the widening inequality facing its residents.

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“Iwaju” will be released on Disney+ in 2023.