Afro Samurai

Title:Afro Samurai
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - GONZO
R1 License - FUNimation
Samuel L. Jackson

Based on a doujinshi written by Takashi Okazaki in the late 90's, Afro Samurai is a creative collaboration between Samuel L. Jackson, Takashi Okazaki and the Japanese animation company Gonzo, a division of GDH, with the intentions of creating an anime series for US and Japanese markets. Scheduled to premiere on Spike TV (a US cable station). With the Academy Award-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson already signed on to co-produce and to do the lead character's voice, this is a first in a potentially interesting trend.

[5 episode mini-series. Series will be aired in America first, then will be aired in Japan in English w/ Japanese subtitles. It doesn't appear that the series will be dubbed into Japanese.]

Navarre (the parent company of FUNImation) announced that Afro Samurai was the top-selling US anime DVD of 2007.

There is also a sequel scheduled for 2009 - Afro Samurai: Resurrection.

R1 license by Funimation
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 9 10 9 8 6 6 Ggultra2764 [series:1394#1552]
Well, this is a rather interesting take on sci-fi and action. Granted, the whole 'revenge' storyline has been done to death in countless other action titles I've seen, both in anime and American live-action films. But, I'll give this movie credit for trying to offer something different with its action. But all said and done, much within this movie will get kudos for the style with its detailed character designs and fluid and intense battle scenes. As for the substance though, there is limited character depth and development as well as plot elements that are typical of the 'revenge' storyline approach. Not to mention there's enough gore, blood, 'F' bombs, and even some sexual content to give you plenty of shock value.

In terms of the plot, Afro Samurai switches back and forth between past and present. The present shows his journey as he takes out the Empty Seven and continue his journey to persue Justice, the Number One. The past shows how Afro acquired his skills and became the Number Two. These flashbacks also show how his actions affected those close to him at the dojo as they find themselves associated with Afro's enemies or dead from the war for the position of Number Two.

But, the whole problem with this storyline approach is that only the past storylines show signs of character development while the present is non-stop action. Enemies lack any depth as they are only around to hinder Afro only to get effortlessly hacked apart in gory fashion by the guy. Present Afro's just a quiet, emotionless, deadpan fellow who I couldn't find connecting with at all. Ninja Ninja was the saving grace of the present storyline as his smart-mouthed attitude added some humor to this dark environment and even shown some symbolism into the path of Afro's character. As for the past storyline, it was the strongest bit in terms of plotting as it does give you a good sense of how Afro and those he cared for get affected by the headband battles.

But even Samuel L. Jackson's talents alone aren't enough for me to consider liking Afro Samurai if all there is to it is style. I've seen enough 'revenge' themed anime and American movies. Only the visuals stood as the strongest element to Afro Samurai for me.

Last updated Sunday, January 04 2009. Created Sunday, January 04 2009.
Watch 7 8 7 6 6 Big Fire [series:1394#2441]
I own this...why maybe having kelly hu's voice in an animated form overcame my sense of hey watch the damn thing first before you buy...yes this is not "anime" per say for all you purists, but none the less it was added here, so i will write about it. i think the story of power is a story told many times over...but not in the form of a headband?..I dunno what i was expecting out of this, i mean i guess if you like the story of power and vengence with alot of blood and cutting up people, then you might want to check this out. I feel that i was digging the whole thing till the final battle...the #1 headband was dissapointing as far as a final foe, and that sidekick guy really bugged...i felt like it was the dude speaking on NBA Street...So should you own it? probably not...Rent it? if you like the whole samuri thing...but watch it if you are bored and cartoon network plays it for free? Sure...

Last updated Monday, December 17 2007. Created Monday, December 17 2007.
Rent 7 10 6 8 6 6 AstroNerdBoy [series:1394#436]

Its been a long time since I saw an anime in English, but since this was done in English first and not Japanese, I move along.

This five-episode anime has some outstanding animation, but I didn't find a lot else for me. For starters, this is a bloody fare, with geysers of blood when foes are hit. Maybe those foes of Afro Samurai had high blood pressure. There are tons and tons of fights, with just enough story to explain the fights. But this is all about well-animated, bloody fights more than story.

As to the story, I'm not sure what else could have been done. When you have a revenge story, you are pretty much locked into a certain course of actions that will ultimately lead you to the final confrontation with the villain you wish to gain vengeance on. This anime is no different except it gets to it in five episodes rather than drag it out. The downside of dragging it out is the lack of any meaningful human elements. The writers do their best to capture this in the limited time they have, but because we have such a bloody mess and the character development is done mostly via flashback, it doesn't work as well.

The merging of American hip-hop culture with Japanese culture does work for the most part. After all, this is supposed to be some futuristic Japan I guess and so anything can happen. We don't get any knowledge of how we came to this future or how the head-band wars started, which is a shame.

The voice acting isn't bad here. I believe that Samuel L. Jackson has some Japanese knowledge or may even be fluent since when he spoke Japanese things (rare, but he did do it), he spoke quite clearly. Then again, I remember him speaking Japanese in Loaded Weapon 1. His Ninja Ninja character is what I would deem classic Sam and Afro was where Sam became something else and that was a good thing.

Bottom line: not my cup of tea as it is too violent and too bloody. However, I suspect that college-aged guys through their 20's who like hip-hop, anime, and fanserviced bloody action will enjoy this.

Last updated Saturday, February 03 2007. Created Wednesday, January 10 2007.

Unevaluated Stretch [series:1394#628]
An article in Anime Insider magazine (May 2006) describes Afro Samurai as "the epitome of blood-soaked, vengeance-filled cool... Much like Gonzo's Samurai 7, Afro Samurai takes place in a world that melds feudal Japan with futuristic technology. To give it extra oomph, the story will feature more urban elements and a dark, vengeance-tinged storyline. The plot centers on Afro, the world's second most powerful warrior on a quest to take down #1: Justice, a seemingly invincible gunfighter who also killed Afro's father."

According to the article, there will also be a live-action Afro Samurai movie (starring Jackson, and slated for release in 2007), Manga, and one or more Video Games.

Last updated Friday, July 07 2006. Created Friday, July 07 2006.

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