Stan Sakai’s rabbit samurai Usagi Yojimbo could be slashing his way through to his own animated TV series, as announced by Gaumont, who have optioned Sakai’s comic book series, and Dark Horse, who will be co-producing. Also co-producing is James Wan’s production company, Atomic Monster, and creator Sakai himself.
Usagi Yojimbo was first published in 1984, taking place in an alternate 17th century Japan with anthropomorphic characters. Usagi is a skilled swordsrabbit and former bodyguard for a Japanese War Lord. With no master, he is now a ronin warrior, exploring the world and facing adventure. Usagi Yojimbo has since been ranked as one of the Top 50 comic book characters of all time by Empire Magazine, one of the top 100 comic book characters of all time by IGN, and the top 50 best non-superhero graphic novels by Rolling Stone magazine.
While Usagi has not had his own series, some will recall his appearances with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He fought alongside the Turtles in the original 1987 animated show and also appeared more recently in Nickelodeon’s show, as the Turtles align with Usagi in his mission to protect the ‘Golden Child’ Kintaro.
“Usagi Yojimbo has been much sought after for many years, and we are honoured to work with Stan Sakai to translate his multi-generational stories into the first ever TV series,” said Nicolas Atlan, Gaumont’s president of animation. “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.”
“I’ve long admired Stan Sakai and his storytelling abilities,” said Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Entertainment’s 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.”
“I’ve been an admirer of Stan’s comic series for a long time and it’s an honour 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.
Sakai took to Twitter to confirm the news. He also mentioned that he receives fan mail around the world asking when Usagi will be getting his own TV series. “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,” said Sakai.