LeSean Thomas understands better than most just how much TV diversity and representation matters—even in animation. The artist and illustrator drew from his training in Japanese anime while working on Adult Swim’s “The Boondocks,” which was the first U.S. cartoon series to use anime to depict Black protagonists.
“It’s a big deal as a kid to see yourself in leading roles in these stories,” he told Colorlines. “When [Black kids] see themselves represented as leads in unique roles, it’s a pretty big deal. So big a deal, that it can be off-putting to others who don’t see it as such because most times, they are used to seeing themselves being represented everywhere as the popular norm.”
Thomas brings this sensibility to “Children of Ether,” his latest short which debuts today (July 26) in 300 theaters. Per the YouTube description for the project’s latest trailer, “Children of Ether” follows Rhonda, ”a woman with a dark past and a mysterious power, as she is pursued by an unknown assailant after the death of her father.” Rhonda and a pair of orphan accomplices must evade gangs and supernatural threats to survive in her dystopian home city while learning about the source and aims of her power.
Thomas worked with anime streaming service Crunchyroll to distribute the project. “Children of Ether” is Crunchyroll’s first original short, and it plays in theaters today as part of the company’s “Anime Movie Night” series.
Watch the explosive trailer for “Children of Ether” above and visit AnimeMovieNight.com to see if the short is playing near you.