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Idris Elba and Wife Sabrina Are Debuting a New Afro-Futuristic Anime Via Streaming Service Crunchyroll: ‘We’re Both Fans of the Genre’

Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina are contributing to the continued advancement of diversity in anime with a new project.

The couple are planning to help create and executive produce an anime series in the Afro-futurism genre, according to Variety.

The pair are working in conjunction with anime streaming service Crunchyroll to develop “Dantai,” produced by Idris’ company Green Door Pictures and Sabrina’s Pink Towel Pictures.

In this screengrab, Idris Elba and Sabrina Elba speak during “One World: Together At Home” presented by Global Citizen on April, 18, 2020. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for Global Citizen )

In an official press release, the Elbas issued an official statement confirming the deal and clarifying their intentions behind conceiving of the show. “We’re really excited to be announcing this deal on our first anime,” the statement said. “We’re both fans of the genre and see a huge opportunity to create something unique for a powerhouse like Crunchyroll. The story of ‘Dantai’ is our first collaboration as producers together and is one that is close to our hearts.”

Joanne Waage, the Crunchyroll general manager, also released a statement expressing the company’s enthusiasm about the project and for working with the Elbas.

“Younger generations have experienced ‘superhero fatigue’ and are looking for new stories like ‘Dantai,’ she said. “This development deal with Sabrina and Idris Elba is another example of how we’re working with best-in-class partners to bring in new audiences and tell fresh and compelling stories through a medium that transcends genres and generations.”

The official summary of the show describes it as “an Afro-futuristic sci-fi series set in a city where the rise of biotechnology has created an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots,” according to Crunchyroll. “Two rising stars from each side of this divide are pitted against each other in a story that will ultimately explore equality and kinship within a corrupt society.”

The Elbas are one element of a new progression of diversity in the anime sphere, with more Black creators being represented in the formation of these shows.

One notable example is D’ART Shtajio, a Tokyo 2-D animation studio that was founded by American Henry Thurlow, background artist Arthell Isom and his twin brother Darnell. Arthell and Darnell are Black, making D’ART Shtajio one of the first full-production anime studios to be established by African-Americans.

They developed a studio that “would infuse American sensibilities in with Japanese anime,” and have worked on some noteworthy anime projects like “Attack on Titan,” “One Piece,” and “Tokyo Ghoul,” as well as commercials for Adidas and Asos, according to Comic Book Resources.  

In an interview with SyFy Wire, Arthell said their accomplishments have created a space to hire and promote the work of Black creators.

“The great thing is with us being here, Black creators seek us out. It’s a great opportunity to work with them. We’ve worked with quite a few, like, independent manga creators with projects like ‘Tephlon Funk’ and ‘XOGENASYS.’ We get the opportunity to then tell more Black stories. These are storytellers who want to see their story adapted to anime form.”

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