And to the author’s shock, Veerasunthorn additionally cited it having particular that means within the South of Thailand: “One who leads.” Pretty apt for his or her heroic lead character who traverses lush river lands and deserts in a conical hat.
There of course was additional analysis, together with the Southeast Asia Story Trust occurring a whirlwind tour throughout the area, which concerned stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Singapore. There are real-world influences for almost the whole lot, from the brim of Raya’s hat to the crest of Sisu’s mane. It’s additionally mirrored within the structure and landscapes of Raya and the Last Dragon’s fictional Kumandra. It’s even infused within the water markets within the movie, evoking riverside commerce in Vietnam.
However, what seemed to be the primary want was creating an genuine illustration of the individuals and the tradition.
“As a Southeast Asian woman, Raya’s character has a really special significance for me,” Lim says. “There’s a history of strong female leaders and warriors in the region, and I personally grew up in a family of really amazing women who inspire me and also scare me, just like a little bit, every day. So it’s important that Raya’s actions and her attitude really embody that same spirit.”
Her co-writer Qui Nguyen—the creator and playwright who pushed for Raya to make use of precise Southeast Asian martial arts strategies, corresponding to Arnis and Muay Thai—in the meantime notes how refreshing it’s to have characters like Raya seem in a giant Hollywood manufacturing.