Netflix has released the first teaser trailer for ONI: Thunder God’s Tale (ONI: 神々山のオナリ), an upcoming CG animated series from Tonko House. The “quirky” and “heartfelt” four-episode series (per Netflix’s description) will be released at a later, undisclosed date.
Created by Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, who also serves as the executive producer, the anime TV series will be helmed by and director Mari Okada (A Whisker Away). ONI is also executive produced by Robert Kondo and Kane Lee, and co-executive produced by Sara K. Sampson and Megan Bartel.
ONI draws on Japanese folklore, which is a no-brainer given its title. Namely, an oni (鬼) is an ambiguous being, often translated as a yōkai, a demon, a troll, or an orc.
ONI: Thunder God’s Tale is set in a world where both gods and monsters of Japanese folklore abide. The MC, Onari, is a daughter of one of such spirits and she sets out to protect her village and follow in the footsteps of ancient heroes. The catch is that her powers are unrevealed.
That’s pretty much all we know about the plot. The series is intended for children, so don’t expect blood and gore.
ONI: Thunder God’s Tale cast and synopsis
The cast of ONI includes Momona Tamada, Archie Yates, Craig Robinson, Tantoo Cardinal, Charlet Takahashi Chung, Miyuki Sawashiro, Yuki Matsuzaki, Brittany Ishibashi, Omar Miller, Anna Akana, Seth Carr, Robert Kondo, and George Takei.
As for the plot, Dice Tsutsumi explains it thusly:
“The story of a brave girl caught between two worlds divided is, at its core, not only a very personal story for me, but one that’s become personal for everyone involved including our absolute dream cast. Every oneof these incredible talents from our dream list accepted with such passion and empathy for the story, and collaborating with them has been equally humbling and inspiring. They’ve given souls to our characters and unparalleled performances for our animators.”
Even though ONI is an English language production, Tsutsumi has recruited Mari Okada, who is reportedly one of his favorite screenwriters. Tsutsumi elaborates:
“Mari is an incredible talent, and I knew she would be the perfect creative partner to capture both the strength and vulnerability of our heroine, Onari. Out of wonderful serendipity, Mari found her own connection to this story which further fueled her entertaining yet emotionally charged approach.”
ONI: Thunder God’s Tale creators are animation veterans
Tonko House is an independent animation studio based in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 2014 by Robert Kondo and Daisuke Tsutsumi, both of whom are former Pixar art directors. The studio is best known for its Oscar-nominated short film The Dam Keeper (2014).