A screenshot from “Amphibia” trailer / Image: Disney Channel via YouTube
A screenshot from “Amphibia” trailer / Image: Disney Channel via YouTube

A tanned girl in Thai traditional dress, with a malai garland around her wrist, greets you with a sawasdee ka – a common interaction at your local Thai restaurant and now a scene from Disney’s latest animated series.

“Amphibia”, from Annie Award-winner Matt Braly, is the first Disney animation to feature a protagonist of Southeast Asia descent. The series follows Anne Boonchuay, a fearless 13-year-old Thai-American girl who suddenly finds herself in a marshland full of anthropomorphized frogs after she opens a mysterious music box. While trying to find her way back, she makes friends by opening a Thai restaurant.

Sawasdee ka, and welcome to Stumpy’s, the world’s first frog-Thai fusion restaurant,” says Anne in the “Amphibia” trailer released on Saturday.

In the trailer, her frog friends are seen munching on Thai favorites like larb and pad thai.

“When I was a kid, every summer, my mother would take me on these trips to Bangkok, Thailand,” Matt Braly explained his inspiration behind the series. “Truly it was like being transported to a completely different world. And so I was looking to kind of bottle up that experience of being in this unfamiliar environment and slowly but surely growing to love it.”

“It’s really fun to be able to kind of show and talk about dishes that I grew up eating and getting to share that with audiences, and hoping to open up their eyes to new things,” added Anne’s voice actress, Brenda Song, who is half-Mhong.

The first episode of “Amphibia” premiered Monday on the DisneyNOW app and YouTube. However, it is currently available to viewers inside the US only.

Over the past decade, Disney has been expanding its representation of diverse cultures and backgrounds, as seen in movies such as “Moana” which features a Polynesian protagonist and “The Princess and the Frog” which presented the first black Disney princess.