Joshua and his older sister, Nahi (Nahirelis) are not the chosen heroes who could save the mythical land of Jurutungo (a place chockfull of Puerto Rican-inspired folklore) from the all-consuming, disembodied Lah Na, but they may have the heart, humor, and wit to make a difference!
NAHIRELIS (EXPLORATION AND FINAL)
Nahi is a shy but tough cookie! She tends to hide in her jacket to escape uncomfortable situations, but she will still find the courage to speak her mind or be overly protective of her younger brother, Joshua. She is a studious, isolated kid who spends her free time learning about what she calls "back home" in hopes of returning to it someday. Slowly though, she will learn to open up, use her knowledge to understand and help Jurutungo, embrace her home in California, and maybe stop picking fights with Chama. Fun fact, Nahi wears brightly-colored boots to distract from making eye contact.
Outspoken and outgoing younger brother with a heart of gold. He looks up to Nahi, but has become overly dependent on her. Arriving to Jurutungo has become the best opportunity for him to gain some independence, even if it means he may do something reckless--but well-meaning! His contagious excitement latches onto Chama with ease. Joshua wears bright t-shirts to encourage eye contact.
The trickster vejigante spirit and guide who can bring the siblings back and forth from Jurutungo to their new home in California. He accidentally brought the siblings to his world but has taken a liking to them! He feels encouraged by Joshua to perfect his mischievous pranks and embrace the spirit of adventure, while he, consequentially, learns responsibility from Nahi.
His name derives from the slang "Chamaco"/"Chamaquito" meaning "little boy".
All the residents of Jurutungo have ties to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean cultures and connections. From the indigenous Tainidad, to African, to Spanish and its ties to Judaism and Islam customs. Each episode would focus on these connections with both a comical and creative twist. From the African and Spanish vejigantes having a friendly rivalry to the indigenous trickster spirits of the dead Hupias (the bats) causing trouble, all the way to other shenanigans that aim to educate and show features rarely shown in Puerto Rican and Caribbean-inspired stories.
Viejo Cemí was once the guardian of Jurutungo, now a husk of a mountain. The elder of Chama's village believes that awakening it could provide the necessary information to find out what this mysterious dark entity called "Lah Na" could be and how it can be stopped. To achieve this, Nahi, Joshua, and Chama must find the Guanín, an ancient medallion made of precious medals that could awaken the sleeping giant. To achieve this, the trio must set out and visit the different locations of Jurutungo to try and find who is the guardian of the precious item.
The guanín is a medallion made of different precious medals from different parts of Jurutungo and beyond. One side of the medallion shows the symbol of the sun, the other the moon, representing the cycles and passage of time both the guanín and Viejo Cemí have experienced.
The medallion is based on the Indigenous object of the same name. It was given to the chiefs (Caciques) of the villages (Yucayekes) as a sign of connection to the cemís (ancestors).
Nobody knows what Lah Na looks like or what it could be. It is an entity that has appeared out of nowhere (think of The Nothing from Neverending Story) consuming and spreading throughout Jurutungo. Its purpose is mysterious and its goal even more so. However, its powers are felt and many fear the consequences: if Lah Na takes a resident of Jurutungo, it turns them into a Guaiza, a mask. It reverts the residents into an object and removes their personalities entirely.
Lah Na represents the ignorance of history and the dismissal of and needs to rewrite events to suit a narrative. The only way to tackle and push back against Lah Na is through stories, sharing connections and honesty, and acknowledging the good as well as the bad.
Lah Na is a re-working of the slang for "Na'" a shorter form of "Nada".
CONCEPT ILLUSTRATION FOR EPISODE IDEAS
Jurutungo (Puerto Rican slang of African origin meaning "a far off place") is a magical land divided by different ecosystems where different creatures thrive in each. Each location follows one of Puerto Rico's popular and lesser-known habitats along with a popular or rarely-known folkloric or endemic creature. It takes inspirations from it's indigenous (native Taínidad), Andalucian Spanish, and West African roots to educate and show the diversity of the culture, something Nahi knows a lot of and gives the viewer context.
There are episodes where the story also takes place back in California. Where Nahi and Joshua must learn and live their day-to-day while also protecting Chama from school laboratories or keeping him from joining the soccer club.
Other episodes have the trio exploring Jurutungo to find a mystical guanín (medallion) that may wake up the sleeping mountain, Viejo Cemí. The only one who may know what the Lah Na is and how to stop it.
STORYBOARD IDEA (Episode 1)
A short scene exploring Joshua and Nahi's first arrival to Jurutungo. There they meet the Elder and a few of the citizens and explore the dynamic between our protagonists.
Thank you for giving it a read! I firmly believe that To Jurutungo can be a show that connects kids from all walks of life. It's a story about family, history, and the weird world that awaits us when we set out to engage with it. Its Puerto Rican twist allows educating everyone beyond what Puerto Rico is known for and can use this re-envision to invite children, especially those in the diaspora, to connect and ask their parents about their heritages, regardless of what it is.
Meanwhile, the sibling relationship between Nahi and Joshua is one where they lift the other up, departing from stories of sibling rivalry. They each compliment and help the other overcome their personal flaws while also bringing about the best in the other; though granted, they will be butting heads on occasion.
All and all, To Jurutungo is a story about connection, something we really need in these divisive times. It's a fun story with a lot of heart and the potential to grow with the right team ready to add their own experiences to this project!
For now, thanks again for your time and interest!