Why Raya And The Last Dragon Strikes Such A Powerful Chord

A lockdown project that births an inspiring cast of strong female protagonists.


Historically, the female protagonist has often been displayed as the damsel in distress. Perhaps she wanted to break free and be strong, but writers never gave her the same qualities as a knight in shining armor. Raya and the Last Dragon proves that character roles are changing, as the protagonist presents the most nuanced depiction of a strong woman in Disney so far. 

Comparing many of Disney’s most well-known female characters sets Raya apart from the rest. While Elsa from Frozen shows that a young woman can rule a kingdom, and Rapunzel from Tangled shows that females can be courageous and adventurous, none quite match up to the depth of Raya’s role, representing a princess-meets-hero like no other. 

What’s even more impressive is that the film was produced at the homes of 450 artists and crew members, with over 900 people working on the film overall - it's one you won't want to miss. 

Writers Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim create a fascinating story that combines inspiration from the endless wonders of Southeast Asia and mystical creatures. “We were interested in the theme of 'community' concerning the source of inspiration from Southeast Asia's cultures. That's a big thing over there.” Says Fawn Veerasunthorn, Head of Story. 

In an ancient battle between monsters and dragons, the storyline follows Raya and her sidekick, Tuk Tuk, as they embark on a mission to save her people. The dragons sacrificed themselves for humanity to get rid of the evil monsters, known as the Druun, but now they’re back. The voice of Kelly Marie Tran, Raya stars alongside Sisu (Awkwafina), the last dragon who helps fight the Druun and save the magical kingdom of Kumandra. 

It is both refreshing and exciting that both main roles are played by females. It’s crucial that such a prestigious platform as Disney puts forward these characters to show young girls that they can be whatever they choose to be, no matter what societal gender boundaries tell them. 

“It follows a young warrior in a fragmented world. She is brave and strong and has overcome obstacles, and I think it's just really timely – particularly right now, having that kind of role model and kind of message.” Says Liza Rhea, environment modeler of the film.

In a story that builds on the importance of friendship and harmony, Raya and the Last Dragon is an animated masterpiece that will be a fan favorite for the foreseeable. Available on Disney +, it’s definitely worth the watch, not only for kids but maybe even adults!


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