While King Kong and Lara Croft may be big-screen staples, the trailblazing Monsterverse titan and the cult-favorite, bow-and-arrow toting heroine of Legendary Entertainment and Square Enix’s respective franchises have never been adapted for a modern anime series — until now.
Netflix and Legendary Television are expanding the globally famed universes of Legendary’s “Skull Island” and Square Enix’s “Tomb Raider” for two new Japanese style animation shows. As previously announced in Nov. 2018, Netflix and Legendary Entertainment are also currently in production for another anime featuring kaiju, the mecha and cyborg series “Pacific Rim: The Black,” based on the Legendary Pictures production and Guillermo del Toro-directed 2013 film “Pacific Rim.”
Legendary’s cinematic Monsterverse started in 2014 with “Godzilla,” and continued with 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island,” 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” and the forthcoming “Godzilla vs. Kong” in March 2021. The streaming platform’s “Skull Island” adventure anime will become a new epic chapter in the overall Legendary’s Monsterverse franchise. The plot follows shipwrecked characters desperate to survive the most dangerous place on Earth, the island that is home to colossal monsters, including the iconic “megaprimatus” Kong. “Skull Island” is set to be executive produced and written by Brian Duffield (“Underwater,” “The Babysitter”) and executive produced by Jacob Robinson under his company “Tractor Pants.” Powerhouse Animation, the studio behind Netflix’s highly-acclaimed “Castlevania” and “Blood of Zeus,” is attached to the project.
Unlike Kong, who technically made his anime debut in the sixties with “The King Kong Show,” Lara Croft is stepping into the world of Japanese-style animation 25 years after her first game appearance in 1996. The narrative will pick up after the events of Square Enix’s video-game trilogy reboot (2013-2018), which has received numerous “Best of” nominations and awards. Tasha Huo (“The Witcher: Blood Origin,” “Red Sonja”) will write and executive produce, along with dj2 Entertainment Founder and CEO Dmitri M. Johnson (“Sonic the Hedgehog,” Stephen Bugaj and Howard Bliss. Robinson, who is also set to executive produce “Skull Island,” will executive produce “Tomb Raider.” The Tomb Raider video games are developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montréal, and published by Square Enix.
The inclusion of “Skull Island” and “Tomb Raider” in Netflix’s growing anime repertoire backs up the claim the streaming giant made last fall about Japanese style animation on the platform: it’s lucrative. The company said that over 100 million households globally watched at least one anime title on the platform between Oct. 2019 and Sept. 2020. Last October, Netflix expanded its roster of anime suppliers, by signing production deals with Anima & Company (owner of NAZ), Science Saru and Mappa from Japan, and with Studio Mir based in Korea.