Gaumont, the oldest film company in the world, has optioned Stan Sakai’s decades-long running comic book series “Usagi Yojimbo” to be adapted into an animated television series. Along with Gaumont, the series will be co-produced by Sakai himself, Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg, and Chris Tongue, and James Wan’s production company Atomic Monster.
Nicolas Atlan, President of Animation at Gaumont, says that Sakai’s comic “has been much sought after for many years.” Sakai says that he gets “fan mail from readers of all ages across the globe who have been asking to see ‘Usagi Yojimbo’ in his own TV series.” The producers all say that the multigenerational stories, deeply developed history, and existing fanbase make the upcoming TV series an exciting opportunity for “further exploration in a new, exciting medium.”
Taking place in a fantastical version of 17th century Japan, the series draws heavily on that time period’s history and mythology while adding the action-comedy pacing to fit within the kids’ comics arena. This style will be translated to the screen for the ronin rabbit to explore even more “immense castles and humble villages” and to continue encountering “dinosaurs, Yokai (ghosts/monsters), cats, bats, bounty hunters, giant snakes, and even aliens” in a whole new storytelling outlet.
MILWAUKIE, Ore., (February 6, 2018)—Gaumont has optioned the iconic, multi-generational comic book series Usagi Yojimbo from the series creator, writer, and illustrator Stan Sakai, to be developed into an animated TV series. First published in 1984, the multiple award-winning Usagi Yojimbo is to be co-produced by Gaumont, Sakai, James Wan’s Atomic Monster, and Dark Horse Entertainment’s Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg who will serve as executive producers, with Chris Tongue as co-executive producer. The announcement was made today by Gaumont’s President of Animation, Nicolas Atlan.
“Usagi Yojimbo has been much sought after for many years, and we are honored to work with Stan Sakai to translate his multi-generational stories into the first ever TV series,” commented Atlan. “Usagi Yojimbo’s blend of history and mythology, clever balance between action and comedy, and real-world touchpoints combined with the supernatural, together with the passionate fan base that Stan has already amassed, makes this an incredibly exciting property to develop with our partners Atomic Monster and Dark Horse Entertainment.”
“We get fan mail from readers of all ages across the globe who have been asking to see Usagi Yojimbo in his own TV series,” added Sakai. “With Gaumont, James Wan and his team at Atomic Monster, and Dark Horse Entertainment, we have the best creative talent on board to bring the adventures I have been creating for over 30 years to life.”
“I’ve been an admirer of Stan’s comic series for a long time and it’s an honor to have the opportunity to bring this character and the rich world that Stan’s created to life for a new generation,” said James Wan.
“I’ve long admired Stan Sakai and his storytelling abilities,” said Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Entertainment President. “Stan built an amazing world that Dark Horse has enjoyed exploring in comic book form. We’re thrilled to be part of further exploration in a new, exciting medium.”
Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo takes place amidst a rich fantasy setting in 17th century Japan and features a diverse world of anthropomorphic characters. Miyamoto Usagi, otherwise known as Usagi Yojimbo, is a ronin warrior with the heart of a hero. A skilled swordsrabbit, and one-time bodyguard for a Japanese War Lord, he’s now masterless, and explores his world of immense castles and humble villages, encountering dinosaurs, Yokai (ghosts/monsters), cats, bats, bounty hunters, giant snakes, and even aliens, facing exciting adventures at every turn, always ready to help.
Usagi Yojimbo is no stranger to the TV screen having appeared in all three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Usagi debuted in TMNT in 1987 and he most recently appeared in Nickelodeon’s three-episode arc in the summer of 2017.
Usagi Yojimbo has amassed numerous awards and recognition over the past three decades. In the kid’s arena, the comics books have received a Parents’ Choice Award, an American Library Association Award, and the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) award. Other accolades and awards include Usagi Yojimbo being named among the Top 50 comic book characters of all time by Empire Magazine, the top 100 comic book characters of all time by IGN, and the top 50 best non-superhero graphic novels by Rolling Stone magazine. Mr. Sakai is a five-time Eisner Award-winner and multiple Haxter (Spain) Award-winner, and he earned the “Best Cartoonist” Harvey Award in 2016. The Usagi Yojimbo comics have been translated into 15 languages and are available in 21 countries in English.