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Idris Elba’s Afrofuturist animated series coming to Crunchyroll

The anime hub announces the new series as subscriber base grows to 4 million

Idris Elba in Pacific Rim armor Image: Universal Pictures
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Crunchyroll, which Sony’s Funimation just acquired for $1.175 billion, continues to grow its subscribers and content catalogue. And with anime (and anime-adjacent, all-ages programming) becoming a keystone of pop culture, bigger and bigger names are partnering with companies like Crunchyroll to find a way in. Case in point: Idris Elba, of Thor, Pacific Rim, and The Wire fame, will produce a new series created exclusively for the platform.

On Tuesday, Crunchyroll announced that Elba’s Green Door Pictures, and his wife Sabrina Elba’s Pink Towel Pictures, would develop Dantai (working title), described as a dark, Afrofuturistic sci-fi series “set in a city where the rise of biotechnology has created an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots.”

The show follows two rising stars from either side of this divide, who are pitted against each other “in a story that will ultimately explore equality and kinship within a corrupt society.”

“We’re really excited to be announcing this deal on our first anime,” the Elbas said in a joint statement. “We’re both fans of the genre and see a huge opportunity to create something unique for a powerhouse like Crunchyroll. The story of Dantai is our first collaboration as producers together and is one that is close to our hearts.”

“For more than a decade, through anime and anime-inspired Originals, Crunchyroll has been leading the charge for the popularization of adult dramatic animation and we are fast becoming the epicenter for the next generation of animation fans, as is evidenced by our incredible growth in registered users and subscribers” said Joanne Waage, GM of Crunchyroll. “Gens Y and Z have experienced superhero fatigue and are hungry for the new stories and ideas that our creators tell. This development deal with Sabrina and Idris Elba is another example of how we’re working with best-in-class partners to bring in new audiences and tell fresh and compelling stories through a medium that transcends genres and generations.”

Along with the announcement, Crunchyroll announced that its subscriber base had surpassed four million subscribers in January (up from three million in the summer of 2020). In an effort to keep up with Netflix, Hulu, and other purveyors of anime, Crunchyroll has been upping its original content game in tandem with the growth; previous originals include Tower of God, The God of High School, and the Mesoamerica-inspired Onyx Equinox.