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Crunchyroll’s new series Onyx Equinox looks like a hyperviolent Avatar

The original series’ ‘dark’ trailer debuts before a November release

Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Having built a reputation on importing, streaming, and curating anime, Crunchyroll has spent the last year rolling out its own slate of originals. The next show, Onyx Equinox, feels like it could only exist in the nexus of mature animation.

Created by Sofia Alexander, the show centers on an Aztec boy named Izel, who finds himself at the center of a war between gods. “In order to save humankind,” the official synopsis goes, “he must complete an impossible task — closing the five gates to the underworld. Izel reluctantly agrees, but only after learning his quest will also correct a terrible tragedy.” Joining him on his quest are Yaotl, a jaguarlike emissary of Tezcatlipoca; Zyanya, a warrior with a powerful ability seeking revenge on those who destroyed her city; Yun and K’in, two twins with distinct approaches to problem-solving; and Xanastaku, a priestess who’s turned from darkness and hopes to redeem her past.

“Viewers of Onyx Equinox can expect an adult story, both in terms of on-screen action and the themes we tackle throughout the series,” said Alexander in a news release. “We’re going to journey with Izel as he is forced to save a world he doesn’t believe he has a place in, coming face to face with both the darkness in the world and within himself.”

The trailer for the series promises a mix of high fantasy, Mesoamerican culture, and explicit violence. While the animation straddles Western and Eastern traditions in a vein similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender, the hacks, slashes, and bloodletting would keep anyone from mistaking the two.

Onyx Equinox is Crunchyroll’s third original 2020 series after The God of High School and Tower of God, but it’s unique even among that company. Alexander’s series is the first written, designed, storyboarded, and directed completely in-house at Crunchyroll Studios. The animatics for the show were then sent off to Korean studios Tiger Studio (Castlevania) and DR Movie (Avatar: The Last Airbender, various Studio Ghibli films) for the animation production.

Onyx Equinox premieres Nov. 21 on the Crunchyroll service, and will be dubbed in Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, and German at launch.

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