Disney has always been very active in championing representation of various cultures in their titles. In their upcoming animated film Raya and the Last Dragon, they will finally be unveiling Raya, the first Disney princess from Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asian mythology features a lot of dragons, so it’s natural that Raya and the Last Dragon, which will be an adventure set in the region’s lore, will be prominent.
Filmmakers Paul Briggs, Dean Wellins and John Ripa, have previously mentioned that the world of Raya and the Last Dragon, set in the fictional setting of Kumandra, is heavily inspired by Southeast Asian cultures from countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos.
Raya and the Last Dragon reimagines a world coupled with ancient civilizations where dragons still exist. The dragons have been valued by the people in this place, and their existence has gradually decreased through time.
Because of this, our female protagonist Raya goes on an adventure to find the last dragon.
Here’s the official synopsis of the movie:
Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good.
The film is the latest original animated film from Disney after 2016’s Moana, which memorably featured its first Polynesian princess.
Cassie Steele, a Canadian with Filipino descent, will voice the titular role of Raya. Comedian Awkwafina will lend her voice as Sisu, the last dragon.
The film is originally scheduled for a release this November 25, 2020. Due to the pandemic, Disney moved the theatrical release date to March 12, 2021.