The latest hit from Pixar has officially arrived, with Turning Red being released on Disney+ on Friday. The animated film has already become a bit of a phenomenon amongst critics, and it's safe to assume that audiences will gravitate towards the delightful and genre-bending story. The tale of Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a tween girl who can transform into a giant red panda when she gets emotional, had a lot of storytelling potential off the bat — and there's a chance that the film could be setting up some sort of sequel or spinoff. Spoilers for Turning Red lurk below! Only look if you want to know!
Turning Red juxtaposes Mei's new red panda transformation (which is passed down to all women in her family) with a lot of elements in her everyday life. This includes her relationship with her reserved and traditional mother, Ming (Sandra Oh), who hopes to help Mei through a ritual to repress her panda form and hold it into an artifact. This is further complicated with Mei and her friends hoping to see their favorite boy band, 4*Town, in concert, with them orchestrating a plan to use Panda Mei to raise the money for concert tickets. As some of Mei's extended family comes into town to help with the ritual, which is the same exact date as the concert, everything comes to a head, with Mei and Ming fighting in their red panda forms, and the rest of the aunties returning to their panda forms for the first time in years to help as well.
Eventually, Mei and Ming reconcile in the spirit realm, and the family is able to perform a ritual that puts Ming's panda form into Mei's Tamagotchi. Mei, meanwhile, decides to keep her panda form active, and the family uses it to boost the popularity of their family temple. The movie ends with Mei comfortably being able to balance the two sides of her life, even openly embodying parts of her red panda form in public with her friends.
The fact that Mei is still comfortably in her red panda form — and her family has begun to take a new perspective to the previously-shameful idea of the panda transformation — provides a pretty upbeat basis for a sequel. That being said, there's still a lot of elements tied to the red panda lore that remain unexplored, which could definitely feed into a sequel or an offshoot in some way. There are also the ongoing aspects of Mei's civilian life, whether that be stuff with 4*Town or just the other tribulations of growiing up.
"We are open, but we haven't talked about it," director and co-writer Domee Shi recently explained to ComicBook.com. "But yeah, it's an invitation at the end for more stories."
"Hopefully, at the end of a movie, you've fallen so in love with the characters that you have a hard time letting them go," producer Lindsey Collins echoed. "I mean, as the filmmakers, not even as the audience, I feel that way. I love these characters. I never got tired of them. I was always like, 'I'd go hang out with those characters again.' I want to see what they're up to. So, yeah. Who knows?"
Turning Red is now available to stream exclusively on Disney+. If you haven't signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.