As Netflix continues to invest in original content, some highly anticipated projects are on the way, from fiction films and documentary projects to more original series. Though Netflix has already successfully produced works in many genres, there’s one that’s still relatively untapped — animated TV series. Though we don’t want to ignore the company’s awesome revival of Voltron: Legendary Defender, Netflix hasn’t done much else in the way of original all-ages animated programming. Most of their original animated shows build on already-popular kids and family programming, and none really have the potential to appeal to multiple generations in the same way that, say, Adventure Time or Regular Show can.
If one director can help break this cycle, it’s Guillermo del Toro. The venerated filmmaker has proven he is capable of working in multiple genres, though he never sacrifices his highly stylized aesthetic. Though del Toro has thus far only directed films that fall more into the fantasy and horror genres, he has had a hand in some extremely popular animated films, having executive produced Rise of the Guardians, as well as Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3. It makes sense, then, that the director is ready to really jump into the world of animation with his own series, Trollhunters.
Trollhunters, which is based on del Toro’s own novel (co-written with Daniel Kraus) follows protagonist Jim as he and his friends explore a mysterious world located beneath their hometown. The project has been a long time coming, with DreamWorks Animation signing on way back in 2010, so we’re excited to report that the series released their first official stills earlier today. The images, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, show Jim and friends fighting — and befriending — some otherworldly creatures, and promise some beautiful animation work. Check out a close-up of protagonist Jim and two other brand new images, below:
The series follows Jim, a fifteen-year-old who becomes a defender of good trolls after finding a magical amulet. Anton Yelchin, who notably played Chekov in the latest Star Trek films and tragically died earlier this summer, provided Jim’s voice. As this is one of the actor’s last roles, del Toro spoke to the gravity of the project:
“We went through great pains to ensure that his voice is preserved for the series. He was so passionate about it, and he had so much fun doing this.”
It is unclear what producers will do about Jim’s voice if they decide to move forward with a second season, but for now it’s nice to know that Yelchin, who del Toro describes as a “beautiful soul,” will live on in the relatable protagonist. Jim may develop some preternatural powers, but the Trollhunters creator promises we will also see the lead teen juggle school commitments and friendships. “I wanted that juxtaposition that Jim could be bad at gym class but fantastic at fighting in the troll arena,” del Toro says.
Though most adult del Toro fans are itching for the latest in the Hellboy and Pacific Rim franchises, we really think that Trollhunters is shaping up to be worth the watch. With the ever-creative del Toro finally stepping into the endlessly mutable world of animation and Yelchin lending his vocal talents to the project, this project could really change the game for Netflix in the best possible way.
Trollhunters will see worldwide release on Netflix in December 2016. A specific date is TBA.