Big Update for Disney Junior's Ariel!

A new promo video has surfaced for Disney Junior's upcoming Ariel series, set for release this summer. The video, which was shared on Instagram, contains interviews with some of the show's creative team along with our very first fully animated clips from the show. It reveals an early look at the new Caribbean-inspired character designs for Ariel, Ursula, and King Triton, along with new characters, Lucia and Fernie, and replacements for Ariel's six sisters in the guise of twins named Alanna and Ayanna. The show's aesthetic is cutesy and playful and to appeal to its preschool target audience, but it is filled with contradictions to both the original animated prequel series and the prequel novel to the live-action film, which the look of this series is inspired by in part. These differences make the series difficult for long-time fans of the franchise to enjoy, which is likely why the opening interview states that it is written to be many children's first introduction to the character.

One of many changes presented in the new series is its aesthetic, featuring diverse designs for Ariel, Triton, and Ursula while keeping the cutesy designs of the original 1989 film for Ariel's animal friends, Flounder and Sebastian. The whimsical kingdom of Atlantica has a similar brightly colored flair to the 1992 animated series while focusing on Caribbean-inspired music and culture to match the setting of the 2023 live-action film. All in all, the series is an amalgamation of numerous sources from over the years along with its own unique flair. Another visual gimmick is that Ariel's tail changes colors based on her emotions, which seems to be a callback to the magical crystal dress from Elena of Avalor, which contained its own mermaid lore. Instead of altering the canon of a beloved franchise, I would have loved to see a spinoff series about the sirenas of Coronado starring Princess Marisa from the Elena of Avalor special, Song of the Sirenas. That would be an original diverse mermaid series that doesn't throw 30+ years of beloved Disney lore into a blender.

Story-wise, the character seems pretty similar to the one we all know and love. There is no precise source that states when Ariel began her obsession with humans, but if she studied them so fervently from the time she was eight years old like in this show, it seems unlikely that she would forget words like "feet" after turning 16. The show has a good formula for its approved 120-episode run that is scheduled to continue into 2027. It will focus on different human objects for Ariel to discover in each episode, giving both characters and audience a chance to learn something new each time. One of the clips from the promo video features Ariel mistakenly wearing a pair of boots on her hands before Flounder reminds her that humans put them on their feet. Though this gag works well as a standalone, it does contradict "Thingamajigger," an excellent episode from the original series about the dangers of letting fear and ignorance take over people's lives.

The characters are a combination of fresh and familiar ones from Ariel's history. Amongst the updated cast, she has a mermaid friend named Lucia, who plays a similar role to Gabriella from the original series (though probably not disabled) and a merman friend named Fernie a spiritual successor to Urchin. This series is the first to openly state that Ursula is Ariel's aunt, a relic from an old draft of the original film that was later used in the Broadway production. She is described here as a "beloved aunt" who occasionally creates mischief for the family, making her a non-threatening villain like Cedric from Sofia the First. Ariel's twin sisters, Alanna and Ayanna, are replacing the girly six from the original series and film, though Alanna's name is clearly a throwback to Alana, Ariel's pink-tailed youngest sister. Despite the reference, the twins bear a much stronger reference to Tamika, one of the six new sisters from the live-action film.

So, the big question remains: will this new Ariel series be a hit with its target audience and long-time fans alike? While the visual appeal and educational approach hold promise, the creative liberties taken with the character's history and established lore might leave some viewers scratching their heads. What do you think? Does Disney Junior's Ariel strike the right balance between originality and tradition, or does it stray too far from the beloved character we know and love? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below! Let's dive into a lively discussion about this exciting new addition to the Disney Princess universe!

Comments

It might be my Disney Junior bias, but I'm looking forward to the show. Plus, I'm used to shows taking creative liberties with their movies (like with Alice's Wonderland Bakery, or Dee And Friends In Oz for a non-Disney Junior example).
https://deadline.com/2024/03/ariel-trailer-disney-junior-animated-series-the-little-mermaid-1235871787/

The show comes out in the summer.
Lisa Dawn said…
That is correct, as they said in the video.
https://www.dgepress.com/disneybrandedtelevision/pressrelease/disney-jr-s-ariel-to-make-a-splash-thursday-june-27/

The Ariel series is coming out June 27. It mentions additional voice actors. Interestingly, Sebastian is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, who he previously voiced in Kingdom Hearts 2.

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