'Turning Red' Concept Art Gives A New Look At The Pixar Film About A Girl Who Transforms Into A Giant Red Panda

It only took 25 films, but Pixar has finally handed the keys to a female director. Turning Red, the upcoming Pixar animated film which will reportedly bring the animation giant back to theaters, will be written and directed by Domee Shi, the filmmaker behind the beautiful 2018 short film Bao. While we're still a ways away from seeing footage from the 2022 movie, Pixar has gone ahead and released some concept art for the movie, which follows a young girl who transforms into a giant red panda. You know, as one does.

Turning Red Concept Art

Pixar released the first look at Turning Red concept art at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival (via Collider), with an image that shows a giant red panda wearing a kid's backpack and walking through the halls of a school. The red panda looks despondent as it towers over all the other kids, who look upon it in fear and awe. It's a striking image that conveys pretty well the unique premise of the movie: a young girl who turns into a giant red panda when she gets too excited.

But funnily enough, while the premise may sound unusual for Western audiences (outside of the superhero genre that is), it sounds like Turning Red rips inspiration straight from the classic Rumiko Takahashi anime Ranma 1/2, a screwball martial arts comedy about characters that turn into the opposite sex, or cute animals, when they get doused with water. With this and the recently released Luca, it feels like Pixar has started to look to Japan for inspiration, which I'm actually totally down for.

Here's the synopsis for the film, which is the feature directorial debut of Shi after she won an Oscar for her Pixar short Bao:

In "Turning Red", Mei Lee is a confident, dorky thirteen-year-old torn between staying her mother's dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. And as if changes to her interests, relationships, and body weren't enough, whenever she gets too excited (which for a teenager is practically ALWAYS), she "poofs" into a giant red panda! "Turning Red" is directed by Academy Award-winner Domee Shi (Pixar short BAO), produced by Lindsey Collins and coming to theaters in Spring, 2022.

Bringing Pixar Back to Theaters

After a year of Pixar films being dumped straight to Disney+, it seems that the tide will finally turn for the animation studio's releases with Turning Red, which per a recent report, will bring Pixar back to the big screen in 2022. Behind the scenes, the staff at Pixar had been unhappy with how Disney is currently handling their releases, with its most recent films like Soul and Luca getting dropped on Disney+, but it's good to see that this will soon change with Turning Red.

Currently, Turning Red is set for a March 11, 2022 release date. It'll be followed in June 2022 by Lightyear, the Buzz Lightyear origin story featuring the voice of Chris Evans.