An unprecedented third TV series for a Disney Animated Canon-based franchise, and Disney's entrance to the Chinese animation market, Stitch & Ainote (2017) is another Spin-Off of Lilo & Stitch. This Chinese animated series, produced by Anhui Xinhua Media and Panimation Hwakai Media, has a similar premise to the Stitch! anime before it, as Stitch is again separated from Lilo Pelekai and ends up in a different region of Earth. However, unlike the anime, this show had the assistance of American animators (including Lilo & Stitch: The Series executive producer Tony Craig serving as director) and was produced in English first before being dubbed into its local language (Mandarin Chinese).
Set on a timeline that takes place after the events of Leroy & Stitch,note Stitch is kidnapped from Lilo by a gang of space criminals known as the Jaboodies, who wanted to replicate Jumba's Experiment 626 research after hearing about information hacked from Jumba's computers about an ability that was programmed into Stitch that makes him even more destructive than what was known before, but they failed to do so themselves. A rival gang, the Woolagongs, attacks their ship wanting Stitch for themselves, allowing him to break free and escape back to Earth in the confusion. Upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, he lands in China's Huangshan mountains where he meets Wang Ai Ling, a young Chinese girl who lives with her older sister Jiejie in the mountains. The two sisters' aunt Daiyu wants to take Ai out of the mountains and into the big city, believing that Ai would develop better as a person there, but the mountain-loving girl and her sister are resistant to the idea. As Stitch—along with Jumba and Pleakley later on after they are sent to China by the United Galactic Federation—joins Ai's family, the two help each other deal with their problems; Stitch helps Ai stay in the mountains, while she helps him ward off the two gangs who are still going after him.
Oh, and as for the experiments that have been featured in the first two shows, Stitch's predecessor "cousins" don't show up this time. However, Jumba gets inspired by what he reads on ancient Chinese scrolls and creates several new experiments based those found in Chinese Mythology.
The series made its English debut on Disney Channel Asia on February 5, 2018, and all thirteen episodes of the show aired throughout that month. The series made its American debut on the DisneyNow service on December 1, 2018, with all but the ninth episode ("The Phoenix") released for free viewing for everyone living in the United States, including those without a TV provider. However, it was removed from the service by June 2019.
Still Needs Wiki Magic Love. A character sheet is currently under development.
Stitch & Ai provides examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The scene in which Stitch falls to Earth after escaping the space criminals clearly shows him rendered as a CG model as he's falling.
- Aliens Speaking English: It's a Lilo & Stitch show. It would be more surprising if it didn't use this trope.
- Artistic License Physics: When Stitch appears in front of Ai after reentering Earth's atmosphere, his body slows down and hovers just above the ground in front her for a few moments before he suddenly regains consciousness and flops down to the ground. He's also surrounded by a blue aura during this time.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In this series, Stitch has the ability to mutate into a Kaiju-like monster when his destructive programming kicks in.
- Badass in Distress: We first see Stitch held in captivity by space criminals. Unlike most instances of this trope, however, he manages to break free on his own.
- The Cameo: Hämsterviel is briefly shown in the third episode as a prisoner on a volcanic planet breaking rocks. This also counts as Demoted to Extra.
- Canon Foreigner: All over again! This show introduces not only a new human cast, but also new villains from space.
- Continuity Nod:
- Ice Cream Man comes back in the first episode and still loses his ice cream. Subverted in that he's actually not the real Ice Cream Man.
- A bullfrog appears in Ai's classroom in the second episode, "Teacher's Pet", narrowing avoiding injury and just croaking absent-mindedly just like past bullfrogs in the franchise.
- Also in the second episode, Stitch gets a gas-powered hedge trimmer (the closest thing to a chainsaw available) and uses it to fight an alien.
- Even the freakin' intro to Lilo & Stitch: The Series◊ gets a reference as Stitch & Ai has those bars where the show's characters are seen running and chasing after each other.◊
- Conveniently Empty Building: The monster-sized Stitch causes destruction to a city... that's under construction. Truth in Television; the Chinese government has built and are still building many new cities to this day, several of which are under-occupied.
- Don't Split Us Up:
- When Jumba puts Stitch in a containment capsule to take him back to the United Galactic Federation, Ai completely breaks down over the prospect of being separated from Stitch. Jiejie angrily and passionately argues to Jumba and Pleakley that her sister never forgets those she loves and Stitch should continue living with Ai. Jumba then decides to release Stitch and lets him stay with her. He and Pleakley also stick around to keep an eye on the experiment, of course.
- Likewise, both Ai and Jiejie do not want to be separated from each other by their aunt Daiyu, who is much less receptive to their pleas. It takes Stitch tricking Daiyu into thinking that he's Ai in order to keep the Wang sisters together.
- Evil vs. Evil: Two rival gangs of space criminals, the Woolagongs and the Jaboodies, are fighting over Stitch.
- Flanderization: Based on the first completely English promo alone, Stitch's English sounds to be even worse than any of the past entries in the franchise, as he speaks English much slower than even his weakest English-speaking moments in Lilo & Stitch: The Series. This is despite the fact that he's clearly been on Earth for a good while before the events of this show.
- Flashback: This show recalls several moments that happened in past entries of the franchise through this method, reanimated in this show's style. The ones that are shown are based on scenes from Lilo & Stitch, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, and The Origin of Stitch short film.
- Foregone Conclusion: Eventually, Stitch is going to leave Ai as he's later back in Hawaii with Lilo before running away in Stitch! (provided that series is in continuity with this one).
- Involuntary Group Split: Lilo and Stitch are involuntarily separated this time around.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: Since this show is partly inspired by Chinese Mythology, of course Chinese dragons appear. They are actually made by Jumba based on what he read on ancient scrolls.
- Interquel: Gantu's presence in the United Galactic Federation◊note —combined with Stitch's flashbacks of events that happened in the original film—establishes this series as taking place between the events of Leroy & Stitch (when Gantu was rehired after having been fired at the end of the original film) and the Stitch! anime (where he was dishonorably discharged prior to the events of that series).
- Mate or Die: A variant not involving death; in the fifth episode "Spirals", Jumba creates a dragon that becomes disobedient. He then realizes that it needs a mate or it will turn evil for a century. Thus, Jumba creates a mate for the dragon.
- The Men in Black: Cobra Bubbles is observing Stitch and relaying information to the Grand Councilwoman.
- Name and Name: This time around Stitch is first-billed and the deuteragonist is second, but only in English for the pun. The Chinese title also counts but follows in the franchise's tradition of Stitch being second.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Stitch's new Kaiju-like destructive mode◊ in this series. Tony Craig relayed this reason to a Lilo & Stitch fan on Facebook as to why Stitch has this new power.Tony Craig: Jumba hid the code that turns Stitch into that monster deep within Stitch. It's what he was supposed to turn into when he found a large city to destroy, but his love from Lilo and now from Ai suppressed it so deeply, it was unknown if it could be reactivated beyond the point of no return. Jumba had kept this secret from everyone, even Stitch. There were never any large towns on Kauai, nor up in the Huangshan Mountains, so it was never activated until he was guided to a city and coerced into being subconsciously turned into this creature in our series.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The two space gangs fighting over Stitch in the first episode cause him to break free and escape them.
- Non-Standard Character Design:
- Subverted with the new human and non-experiment alien characters, as they are designed similarly to those seen in the films and Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
- However, most of the new experiments on this show don't look like traditional experiments for the most part, and the ones that do resemble such have much more complex designs.
- Not What It Looks Like: In the second episode, Aunt Daiyu says she doesn't believe Ai is getting a proper education at her rural school, so Jiejie takes her aunt there to prove her wrong. By the time they arrive, they find Ai standing in the middle of a destroyed classroom and her teacher Mr. Liu dazed and confused (a result from her and Stitch's fight with an alien that possessed Mr. Liu). From there, Daiyu gives Ai an hour to prepare to move to the city.
- One-Winged Angel: This show introduces a new form of Stitch for when his destructive programming is triggered. He grows into a giant beast with glowing red eyes and four tendril-like appendages that allow him to fire plasma from his body.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Teacher's Pet", when Aunt Daiyu decides to move Ai to the city, Stitch takes Ai's place by wearing a red blanket wrapped around him, a baseball cap, and sunglasses to pretend to be her, going with Daiyu on the car ride there. She does not get concerned about why "Ai" is suddenly wearing such different clothes. When they arrive, Stitch reveals himself, scaring Daiyu enough to cause her to faint, and hitches a ride on a truck to head back to the mountains.
- The Power of Friendship: Ai manages to bring Stitch from his giant destructive form to his old self with her friendship towards him.
- Pun-Based Title: Ai is pronounced the same as the English letter and pronoun "I". You can figure out the rest from there.
- Recycled In Space: Lilo & Stitch (minus Lilo) in China with a dose of the Stitch! anime.
- Recursive Creators: In the eleventh episode, "Creatures", Stitch creates eight experiments who are based off of creatures found in Chinese Mythology.
- Revision: The introduction of Stitch's new destruction form and how it was supposedly secretly embedded in him all this time counts as this, although it might be a Retcon instead if one considers the Stitch! anime and its third season's "Neo-PowerChip" to be canon (even though that series takes place after this one).
- Scenery Porn: This show likes to emphasize just how beautiful the Huangshan mountains are.
- Science Fantasy: Like the Stitch! anime, this show mixes the Lilo & Stitch franchise's brand of science fiction with the local mythology of a region, with Chinese Mythology being implemented this time around. However, the fantasy aspects are not as prominent as the anime's; for one thing, those are experiments that resemble Chinese mythological creatures, not "actual" such creatures.
- Sequel Non-Entity: Even though this show features brand-new experiments, none of the previously-seen experiments besides Stitch himself return in this show. Not even fellow major experiments Reuben (625) or Angel (624) appear. However, Craig has stated that he would like to bring back the classic experiments in this series if Disney approves production on a second season.
- Sequel Series: Number three for the Lilo & Stitch franchise.
- Stealth Sequel: Averted; Lilo is explicitly shown in flashbacks in the early episodes, quickly establishing this show as taking place after the original film and its subsequent sequels—i.e. Gantu is a captain of the Galactic Armada once again—but before the events of Stitch!.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute/Expy: Ai is very similar to Lilo personality-wise. Also, Jiejie is a lot like Nani (although Ai's sister is not as stressed out as Lilo's sister), and Dahu (Jiejie's boyfriend) is a lot like David Kawena (Nani's boyfriend).
- Vocal Evolution: Compared to the Stitch! anime, Ben Diskin's Stitch voice is significantly deeper than the one he used before.
- Wistful Amnesia: For some reason, hypercognitive Stitch has trouble remembering Lilo, as his memories of his past life with her are only vague. This trope is probably used to show why he seems to be in no hurry to return to her while (supposedly) trying to avoid betraying the meaning of the ʻohana motto, since he does at least somewhat remember her.