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Creator-director Jorge Gutierrez offered a first look at his vibrant epic fantasy series Maya and the Three, which he describes as his “hyper, hyper, hyper love letter to Mexican culture and to the ancient culture of Mesoamerica, the Caribbean and a little bit of South American culture.”
At the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on Tuesday, Gutierrez shared that he “wanted to create something to honor all the warrior women that I grew up with. These are the pillars in my family,” he said, of his wife, mother and sister.
The story follows Maya, a Mesoamerican warrior princess who embarks on a journey to fulfill an ancient prophecy and save humanity from vengeful gods of the underworld. During the presentation, Gutierrez and lead character animator/creative consultant and his wife, Sandra Equihua, described the story, characters and locations in the four-and-a half-hour series, which will be released in 30-minute episodes this Fall on Netflix. This included sharing concept art and models of the characters, as well as two clips.
Maya’s design includes an uneven haircut and skirt length to reflect that she is torn between being a diplomat or warrior. Her costume is mostly white, green and red — the color’s of Mexico’s flag — and she later become on eagle warrior (an eagle is a symbol on the flag).
Gutierrez and Equihua described characters including King Teca, the warrior king and Maya’s father (“he’s obsessed with fighting … he’s a teddy bear that can kill you”); Queen Teca, a diplomat Queen and Maya’s mother “whose design shows her “regalness and her strength;” and three older siblings, the jaguar brothers. “I’m a Ninja Turtles fans, these are my Mesoamerican jaguar warrior versions of that,” Gutierrez says.
Villains include Lord Mictlan, the God of war, who was inspired by Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the dead; Lady Micte, a goddess of death (whose face is “feminine, but like a skeleton”); Acat, the goddess of tattoos (a “sassy teenager”); and Zatz, the prince of bats, inspired by Camazotz, the bat god.
Maya’s journey will involve many locations. Gutierrez previewed a few, including the jungles lands, “a respectful, fantasy version of the Mayans;” and the Golden Mountains, inspired by Machu Picchu and Inca culture. Another location, Luna Island, was described by the director as a “love letter to modern Caribbean culture.” Shaped like a crescent moon and floating on the Earth, the island world is “obsessed with roosters (a Wizard Academy on the island is shaped like a giant rooster) and has island culture references.
Clips included one during which Maya’s parents present her with her mother’s eagle armor and father’s eagle claw weapon. Another was an action sequence featuring Maya in battle against Acat.
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