In Disney's upcoming animated feature Raya and The Last Dragon, the titular Raya will set out on a journey to track down the legendary last dragon in order to restore her world of Kumandra and unite its divided people. The film, the first from Disney Animation Studios to be inspired by Southeast Asia, stars Kelly Marie Tran as the voice of Raya and Akwafina as the voice of the titular last dragon, Sisu. While the world of Kumandra is fiction and inspired by a wide range of Southeast Asian influences, Sisu in particular is inspired by the Nāga, mythological beings with strong ties to water. But according to director Don Hall, Sisu has a bit of a connection to Big Hero 6's Baymax as well -- at least in terms of the idea of making Sisu different than most movie dragons.
Speaking with ComicBook.com, Hall spoke about how they sought to make the Nāga-inspired Sisu unique as compared to how dragons are often depicted on screen much in the same way Big Hero 6 took a unique approach to robots with Baymax.
"Specifically I would also add that the character of Sisu was a very specific attempt at, you know, portraying something that is deeply rooted in Southeast Asian mythology, which is that of the Nāga, which is that a dragon, but a very specific dragon and a deep deep connection with that dragon with water, which to us made it fresh and interesting in a world that's had many dragons depicted on screen," Hall said. "We feel like we found a, you know, not unlike you know Baymax. It felt similar in that like 'oh my god we've got, how many robots have we seen in the movies? What are we gonna do something different, what are we gonna do?' And then in the research found inflatable robots being researched at Carnegie Mellon and Sisu is sort of the same thing. It's like, obviously we wanted a dragon in the film but it was a unique take on a dragon, and again, going into the research, looking at the cultures that we're profiling, we found a very unique take on the dragon so it allowed us some really cool... it's hard to talk about without spoiling, but there's a very deep connection between Sisu and water that is really, really beautiful stuff on screen."
Raya and The Last Dragon arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access on March 5th.