I had no knowledge that vividly detailed Japanese animated manga film titled Afro Samurai was floating around the Internet and onto a Spike TV time slot until the latter part of 2008. But, I’m not here to make excuses and besides it was well worth the wait and then some. It takes a truly special anime to overtake Fist of the North Star from my number one all time favorites spot. Although Afro Samurai’s coup was swift and decisive I must pay homage to Fist of the North Star before getting to the nitty gritty of some of what makes Samurai so pleasing to my senses starting with my sense of sight and ending with a taste for more. First things first, the cool factor is on over drive from Samuel Jackson’s convincing voice, RZA’s original music production, Samuel Jackson’s double voice action. Last but not least the subtle yet sweet hints of an underlying Blaxploitation Noir combined with western black and eastern Asian culture. What results is a violently dazzling yet familiar mix of high details and technical graphics that fuel this Samurai action flick. Every fight scene features sleek choreography and moves that more than make up for the tepid simplicity of the story line. Oddly enough, this only adds to its appeal and allows me to focus on Afro’s internal and external battles. As if I’m not gushing enough, I wish to convey that this bad boy is solid.
At some point I had to be honest with myself and admit that Afro Samurai quenches my thirst for ultra violent rays of blood splatter and glistening liquid swords. And soul searching, there is a lot of that going on. I can dig.
Dramatic? Not really, now on to the juicy bits. The plot is easy enough to follow, but it’s the action that keeps you anticipating the next move once it really revs into high gear. Afro is on a mission and his number one objective is revenge, more specifically, he aims to avenge his father’s death which he witnessed at a very young age. He watches his father sword fight a numbered head band wearing warrior to the death. The warriors name is Justice and from that moment on Afro’s search for Justice consumes him and will ultimately determine his future. You see, Afro’s father wore the number One head band and was subsequently challenged by Justice, the warrior who wore the number Two head band. After his fathers death Afro’s challenges and burdens become greater and heavier as he eventually acquires the number Two head band for himself and thus continues a family legacy brimming with murder and redemption. He seals his fate by making himself a target of every man who seeks to be number One. This seemingly untouchable “God”-like warrior who can only be challenged by whomever owns the number Two who, alternately, can be challenged by any and everyone. His past will haunt him from youth into adulthood and he will face an uphill battle that spans his life and forces him to face his past time and again while reconciling past choices that have led him to face his toughest battle yet. Did I mention he’s a weed toking Samurai with a super sarcastic “sidekick” who always keeps it real. If you’re an anime fan and haven’t checked this one out then please do; you won’t be disappointed. It is dope, no pun intended.
For now, enjoy a preview. Warning: Language and Violence
Coming soon: Review of Afro Samurai Resurrection