Watch: ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is a melting pot of Southeast Asian culture


Walt Disney Animation Studios (the makers of Frozen and Moana) has dropped the first trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon, featuring Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess.

The trailer introduces Raya, a lone warrior in the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons once lived in harmony. But when an evil force scourged the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Five hundred years later, the same evil has returned and now Raya sets on a journey to find the last dragon, unite the divided people, and save the world.

Finally, some Southeast Asian representation

In the trailer, we see Raya make her way through a cave together with her armadillo sidekick TukTuk. There, she goes toe-to-toe with a mysterious villain who she fights using arnis sticks. And in case you didn’t know, arnis is the Philippines’ national martial art.

We also see the different clans/tribes Kumandra is fractured in, which looks to take inspiration from different SEA cultures. The filmmakers visited Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines to conduct research for the flick. The trailer also gives off Legend of Korra and Star Wars vibes.

The movie’s poster shows off Southeast Asian influences, too, with Raya wearing a salakot as she holds her dragon-motif sword.

Raya is voiced by Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Marie Tran, who is best known for playing Rose Tico in Star Wars. Southeast Asians are also in the writer’s room, such as Malaysian Adele Lim (co-writer of Crazy Rich Asians) and Vietnamese-American Qui Nguyen.

Raya and the Last Dragon is set for a March 2021 premiere in the US.

Read more: Watch: Disney drops new trailer for Pixar film ‘Soul’


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