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Feb 29, 2024

Review

‘IWÁJÚ’ | REVIEW

The future is important, it’s coming whether we like it or not. Yet, what would ‘the future’ be without the influence of past culture?

In Disney & Kugali’s ‘IWÁJÚ’, African culture is at center of a fun & thrilling story set in the future Lagos (Nigeria). Through this story we get to meet ‘TOLA’ (played by Simisola Gbadamosi), a 10-year-old girl who is energetic and wants to explore the world. However, we also get to meet ‘KOLE’ (played by Siji Soetan), a boy who is hardworking and caring for his loved ones. Together with some other characters such as ‘TOLA’S FATHER’ we to go on a frantic adventure which involves kidnapping, lizards, and class differences. ‘IWÁJÚ’ is nonetheless a six-part miniseries full of fun scenes and important themes.

Image courtesy of Disney.

While I was somewhat skeptical to the series before watching it, I can positively state that I after watching the six episodes found it to be quite entertaining: The series is an easier watch, there is no doubt about it if you ask me. However, that is exactly what you need sometimes. I am not going to state that this series is shallow or ‘not complex enough’. Because that is so far from the truth.

‘IWÁJÚ’ is a show that will be a great watch for both the youngsters and the somewhat older individuals. While, perhaps, aimed towards the younger the show still features complex themes surrounding ‘class differences’ and ‘individual growth’. ‘IWÁJÚ’ is a great example of how to make something everyone can watch and learn from.

Image courtesy of Disney.

Something we all perhaps could learn from this show is the art of voice acting, because the delivery of almost all lines in this show are authentic and lively. The voice acting is undoubtfully one of the series strongest aspects, you could really feel the characters personalities on screen. The writing of the show is also clear, concise, and honest in terms of adapting African culture. It all sets up ‘IWÁJÚ’ to become a great piece of entertainment.

But, as I said, the show is not perfect. Most shows, if not all, aren’t. There is, however, only one ‘big’ downside surrounding ‘IWÁJÚ’. That is regarding its character models. They look rough, and sometimes as if they were from a movie made in perhaps 2000s-2010s. This really bothered me in some instances, a show which is made by big brand studios should not suffer from this defect.

Image courtesy of Disney.

Regarding the character models, their textures also seemed to be one contributing factor to the models’ ‘aged’ look. There was just something about the textures that looked strange. In contrast, the clothing or design of the fabrics that made up the characters clothes looked great. They had fun-looking designs and were mostly colorful, which goes in general for the series. I, personally, love colorful video games and films. There is always something special when the color palette of a film or TV-show hits right. Furthermore, while the shows ‘great’ aspects mostly overweight the ‘one big negative’, it will in the end still affect the shows score.

Except for this, the digital environments of ‘IWÁJÚ’ looked fantastic. Getting to know more about African culture and Lagos was exceptionally fun. The team a Disney & Kugali did an amazing job in creating the ‘future Lagos’. But everything was not just sci-fi and cool gadgets. No, the culture of Africa was at center, which is what makes this show into a unique piece of television. We need more collaboration projects from Disney with studios from all around the world.

Image courtesy of Disney.

Kugali, which at its core is a Pan-African comic book entertainment company founded In Arica, has done noteworthy work together with Walt Disney Animation Studios. The product that both parts has managed to create deserves to be seen. Not only for its great story, but also for its stellar art direction that I found used by the show. There are some instances were 2D & 3D animation is seemingly mixed, as well as moments with fun & creative editing. These are also some of the show’s most beautiful moments, beyond the overarching story.

Because, the overarching story is awesome, there is no doubt about it. Is it the best story I’ve ever watched, no. But is it a story filled with heart touching moments? Yes, it indeed is. Many scenes featuring ‘TOLA’ and ‘KOLE’ are heartwarming and manages to show their relationship and its hardships in a good way. Class differences are a big part of ‘IWÁJÚ’, and their relationship perfectly enlightens it.

Enlightened should also the music (score) of the show be because it is great! Ré Olunuga (who is credit for ‘Series music’) makes a strong score that hits the right beats at the right time. It is nothing mind-blowing, but indeed perfect for this project. Mostly, perfect is also the animation of the show. (meaning how the different characters and objects move), I could not spot anything weird regarding the animation. It is also rather splendid for ‘IWÁJÚ’.

Image courtesy of Disney.

While the overall production is fantastic, I did find some other ‘minor’ parts which could have benefited from some additional work. To start with, the intro, as well as outro credits for the show felt somewhat static and dull. Perhaps some artwork could have been displayed?

Secondly, I think this show could have been made into a movie and benefited greatly from it. While it was effective to have only six episodes with a runtime of around 17-25 minutes. It made the show easy to watch and especially binge-watch. It did feel like it all could have been combined into a one-hour and forty-minute movie. Just for the effectiveness and overall structure of it all.

To look at it all, the overall picture, it is rather easy for me to give a rating for this show. ‘IWÁJÚ’ is a project beautifully created by Disney & Kugali. It is not perfect, but thanks to its great story, strong voice-acting and appealing art-direction. It all makes up for a rather quick but satisfying watch. We would also like to recommend the documentary ‘IWÁJÚ: A DAY AHEAD’ for its detailed view in how ‘IWÁJÚ’ came to be. Truly inspiring for many artists and story creators. We therefor give Disney & Kugali’s ‘IWÁJÚ’ a rating of:  

Rating: 4/5

By

Eddie Gustafsson

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