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Summary

  • Iwájú
    ‘s predictable story is made stronger by stellar character development and themes of class disparity.
  • The show’s futuristic setting in Lagos, Nigeria, uses technology to explore economic separations in a meaningful way.
  • Despite pacing and plot issues, top-notch animation and thematic commentary make
    Iwájú
    a captivating watch.



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Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new collaboration with the Pan-African company Kugali Media offers a unique story built specifically for Disney+. Iwájú is a six-episode miniseries set in a futuristic version of Lagos, Nigeria. The story is focused on a young girl named Tola Martins (Simisola Gbadamosi) who wants to explore the mainland of her home. Alongside her new pet lizard, Otin, she is determined to learn more about her country. However, she is soon targeted by a mysterious villain, whose motivations emphasize the show’s themes of class and economic disparity.


Iwaju Disney TV Series Poster

Iwájú is an animated sci-fi series created for Disney+ and released in 2024. Set in the distant future in Lagos, Nigeria, Iwájú follows a young girl named Tola and her friend, Kole, who travel between dimensions and explore new worlds while exploring the culture of the place they come home through a new point of view.

Pros

  • Iwájú has a stellar voice cast
  • The miniseries does an excellent job with its commentary
  • Its global themes can be embraced by children & adults alike
Cons

  • The story can be a bit too predictable
  • Some of the story elements needed further exploration


Iwájú Uses A Predictable Story To Highlight Important Global Issues

Tola pressing her hands to the window of a vehicle while a ship flies by in the animated Iwaju

Iwájú‘s story isn’t anything new, with events and conflicts transpiring in ways that can easily be gleaned ahead of time. However, by not trying to reinvent the wheel, the miniseries is able to focus on strongly developing its characters and themes. Tola’s curiosity is a major catalyst for the events that transpire, which center around how people of different economic classes are treated in society. It’s a universal theme made potent by the show’s futuristic setting, which uses technology to explore these separations.


This often works to the show’s advantage, taking time to cement its themes by explaining the actions of all its characters. Even the core antagonist, Bode (Femi Branch), has motivations that weave into the core thematic elements of the story. The exploration of economic inequality through its characters is multifaceted, presented in a way kids will understand and adults can appreciate. The structure of Iwájú is also perfect for streaming, as it takes full advantage of being episodic to explore its main themes in a creative, fitting way.


However, these characters would not work without the stellar voice acting that brings each of them to life. Gbadamosi exemplifies Tola’s charming curiosity as she learns more about the world, while Branch is a foreboding presence as Bola. Other standouts include Tola’s success-obsessed father Tunde (Dayo Okeniyi) and her nervous friend Kole (Siji Soetan), their respective voice actors capturing their character traits in detail. Dialogue is spoken in English-based Nigerian Pidgin, adding to the authenticity of the Lagos-based story.

Iwájú’s Endearing Qualities Distract From Its Storytelling Issues

The show’s pacing and character development leave something to be desired.

Alongside engaging characters that naturally weave within its story of class disparity, the show crafts a unique world through futuristic Nigeria. The vast technological elements presented add to the show’s fun factor, featuring flying cars and a host of innovative gadgets. While some comparisons can be drawn between this setting and Black Panther‘s Wakanda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iwájú stakes a unique claim by using its world as a lens for thematic exploration. Not everyone is able to utilize the same amount of technology, something touched upon by the show’s story.


The creativity of its setting is further reflected by the miniseries’ detailed animation. Everything from the vastness of Lagos to Tunde eating bread is fluid and eye-catching. While the quality isn’t on par with theatrical releases like Frozen and Encanto, the level of detail in its stylized imagery is impressive for Disney Animation’s first miniseries. By breathing this much life into its world, the show aims to be visually attention-grabbing, making it easier to become engrossed in the story it presents.

Stellar animation and strong thematic commentary on class disparity and economic inequality make the show charming and memorable despite its storytelling issues.


These well-made attributes of the series help distract from the show’s notable storytelling pitfalls. While the familiar bones of its story are bolstered by other, more well-developed traits, the pacing feels inconsistent throughout. Some interactions between characters are needlessly drawn out, distracting from the strong, thematic character moments that push the story forward. While these scenes don’t detract from the show’s stronger qualities, they feel like they were added for little reason other than to beef up the episode count.

Despite moments that felt too long, there were some elements of the story that seemed like they needed additional development. Some character arcs feel like personality alterations without meaningful progress, new views on the world being established in ways that aren’t as fleshed-out as less relevant parts of the story. One supporting character’s arc also appears to stall by the end, giving them a dissatisfying role in the final episode. While these plot issues are never too big a detriment, they’re worth noting for making some parts of the show lack the same engagement factor as others.


Related

Disney’s New Animated Series Brings Back Something It Hasn’t Done In A Decade

Iwájú is set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria, and the stunning visuals combined with the impressive scientific technology are bold steps for Disney.

As a whole, though, Iwájú utilizes its futuristic Nigeria setting to tell a predictable story bolstered by a three-dimensional cast of characters. Stellar animation and strong thematic commentary on class disparity and economic inequality make the show charming and memorable despite its storytelling issues. It also opens new avenues for Disney+, perhaps the first in a line of experimental miniseries that can reflect a variety of mature themes through family-oriented stories. While not perfect, this show is a worthwhile watch, especially for families looking for something different on the streaming platform.

All six episodes of

Iwájú

are now streaming on Disney+.


Iwájú

Cast
Simisola Gbadamosi , Dayo Okeniyi , Femi Branch , Siji Soetan , Weruche Opia

Release Date
February 28, 2024

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Writers
Adeola Hudson , Halima Hudson

Directors
Ziki Nelson

Creator(s)
Ziki Nelson , Hamid Ibrahim , Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku



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