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Iwájú Review: New Disney Animated Series Pushes Boundaries

Iwájú is the result of a collaboration between Walt Disney Animation Studios and Kugali Media. There is dark subject matter, but it’s done well.

Iwájú Review

Set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria, Iwájú follows Tola, a young girl from the wealthy island, and her best friend, Kole, a self-taught tech expert. It should be noted that there is some dark and heavy subject matter surrounding children being kidnapped, however it is handled well and in a way that teaches lessons rather than being super scary. However, some sensitive children, and parents, might struggle at the start of the series because of this.

Iwájú Review

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The world itself of Iwájú is beautiful, and not just because of the wonderful animation. The clothing and the surroundings feature bright colors that pop and intricate designs that feel true to Nigeria. At the same time, the English is mixed with Pidgin flawlessly, allowing it to feel accurate to what it is portraying, while also introducing those around the world to the culture and language of Nigeria.

Pan-African British-based entertainment company Kugali Media has teamed up with Walt Disney Animation Studios to create this series, and it is clear they made sure they brought something special to the table. Because of this collaboration, kids and parents around the world will have a new found spark of interest in African culture. 

Iwájú Review

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The series kicks off on Tola’s tenth birthday, and unfortunately she is spending the majority of it alone. Her father works very hard, something many parents will be able to relate to. While he is helping to do what he can to track down the kidnappers that are on the loose, he has a brief moment to give Tola her birthday gift. Otin is an adorable robotic agama (lizard), who has been tasked with protecting her at all costs. Her father is taking no chances with bad people on the loose, and rightfully so.

Tola’s father is sure to be relatable to a lot of parents watching, as we often get caught up in our work and miss out on events and time with our children. This is one of the greatest lessons that Iwájú teaches. It also heavily highlights that just because you are of different social class, or come from different worlds, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a true friendship. Tola and Kole prove this with their friendship, even though he is technically an employee of her father’s and spends a lot of his time doing work around her house.

Iwájú Review

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Iwájú is just six quick episodes, all less than thirty minutes and some even less than twenty minutes. Binging from start to finish takes a little more than an hour and a half. Because of this, Iwájú feels a lot like an animated film, rather than a series. It is highly recommended to watch these episodes back-to-back, if you have the time, as the story flies by and really plays out better without taking breaks. 

Should Disney and Kugali have made this a film rather than a series? We think yes. It likely would have enhanced the viewing experience overall, rather than having to watch, or skip, the credits between each episode. As mentioned above, there is some heavy subject matter explored here, but overall Iwájú is a joyful watch. Tola is spunky, sassy, and a lot of fun. We would love to see more of this world. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Iwájú poster

About Iwájú

“Iwájú” is an original animated series set in a futuristic Lagos, Nigeria. The exciting coming-of-age story follows Tola, a young girl from the wealthy island, and her best friend, Kole, a self-taught tech expert, as they discover the secrets and dangers hidden in their different worlds.

Kugali filmmakers—including director Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, production designer Hamid Ibrahim and cultural consultant Toluwalakin Olowofoyeku—take viewers on a unique journey into the world of “Iwájú,” bursting with unique visual elements and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos.

The series is produced by Disney Animation’s Christina Chen with a screenplay by Adeola and Halima Hudson. “Iwájú” features the voices of Simisola Gbadamosi, Dayo Okeniyi, Femi Branch, Siji Soetan and Weruche Opia.

Iwájú is now streaming on Disney+.