Jumba and Pleakley (part 3)

This is just a short wrap up post to talk about the other variations of these characters outside of the main canon. These spin-off shows vaguely tie-in to the original series, but make changes to the world/characters to fit the demographic these new series are targeting.

Japanese Series

Co-produced with the Japanese anime studio Mad House and DisneyStitch! was conceived as an alternate imagining of the characters, with Stitch landing on a Japanese island and befriending a girl named Yuna. Part way through the series it was tied back as a sequel to the American show, with the character of Lilo showing up. The show has been dubbed in English, but only the first five episodes aired in the United States.

If the series is viewed as a continuing story years down the road from when the American series ended, the implication is that Jumba and Pleakley view their ohana as each other and Stitch. This shows the priority of their friendship to each other, but at the cost of their complicated emotions about their makeshift family in Hawaii. When Lilo is finally reunited with Stitch, there is no conversation about reuniting with Jumba and Pleakley who lived with her and acted as her Aunt and Uncle for most of her childhood.

There is a lot of fun scenes of the two being friends. While their characterization feels different than the original, the heart of the two characters is not too far off.

In terms of continuity issues, in the Japanese series Pleakley describes Plorgonarians as not having a gender. In the American series it is clear that Pleakley’s culture has similar gender norms to the U.S in terms of expectations of men and women and how they should dress and act (and the default assumption that they will marry someone of the opposite gender). In this series Pleakley wears traditionally male and female clothing depending on the episode.

Chinese Series

Stitch and Ai follows a similar formula to the Japanese version: in which the base idea of the Lilo and Stitch series is reimagined with a new little girl, this time from China. Like Stitch! this series is vaguely connected to the original series, but I’m not sure exactly when it’s supposed to take place. Stitch is separated from Lilo and ends up in China. So, perhaps it takes place after the original series, but before the Japanese series (maybe? or maybe these spins-offs are just not canon).  

Jumba and Pleakley show up part way into the series. The are working for the United Galactic Federation to retrieve Stitch. Instead, they end up staying to watch over the family in China. The characterization of Jumba and Pleakley is further removed from the original then Stitch! 

The two are close friends still, but they rarely have their own side plots. Pleakley doesn’t wear women’s clothing. In episode 12 Pleakley references wanting to have learned a traditional Plorgonarian jumping game, but couldn’t because it was for girls. So, presumably Plorgonarian have male and female genders in the Chinese series. 

Live Action

It has been announced there will be a live action remake of the original 2002 movie. There is little news yet about the film. But, a lot has changed in the nearly 20 years since Lilo and Stitch came out. Disney has begun to be more inclusive. If they wanted to have Jumba and Pleakley explicitly written as queer characters they have a wonderful opportunity to do so. I personally don’t think they will, because this could risk the movies release in markets like China. I look forward to posting an update once the film actually comes out.

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