In 16th century Japan, an African slave became the first-ever Black man to step into the country, piquing the interest of Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga. He eventually gained the trust, friendship, and respect of Nobunaga, and would ascend to the title of samurai, becoming known as the legendary Black samurai, Yasuke. But while Yasuke existed in our world, the demons he’s fighting in the new Netflix anime series Yasuke, probably weren’t. Inspired by the legend of the Black samurai, Yasuke stars LaKeith Stanfield as the titular character, who is brought back into battle to raise an army against an unspeakable evil. Watch the Yasuke trailer below.
Yasuke is created by LeSean Thomas (Cannon Busters) who also serves as executive producer and director, and comes from the acclaimed Japanese animation studio MAPPA, which is behind hits such as Attack on Titan and Jujutsu Kaisen. And it stars none other than Oscar nominee LaKeith Stanfield, who voices Yasuke and also executive produces the alternate-history series inspired by the legendary real-life Black samurai. Only this time, he’s fighting mechs and magic.
The trailer promises a gory, action-packed anime series, with impressive character design by director and animator Takeshi Koike (Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine) and music by Grammy-nominated artist Flying Lotus. But I do have to say that Stanfield’s very recognizable timbre is a tad distracting. There’s an ongoing conversation about casting celebrities in voice acting roles, and while Stanfield is a talented actor, I’m still not convinced he will deliver as a voice actor, which requires a very different acting muscle than screen acting.
Still, Yasuke has an impressive creative team behind it, with MAPPA and Koike lending credibility to the Netflix anime, which is more than you could say for the streamer’s many other attempts to corner the anime market. And since we’re likely not going to get the live-action feature film about Yasuke, which originally was set to star the lateChadwick Boseman, this is a more than worthy alternative.
Here is the synopsis to Yasuke:
The tale is set in a war-torn feudal Japan filled with mechs and magic, the greatest ronin never known, Yasuke, struggles to maintain a peaceful existence after a past life of violence. But when a local village becomes the center of social upheaval between warring daimyo, Yasuke must take up his sword and transport a mysterious child who is the target of dark forces and bloodthirsty warlords.
Yasuke is set to debut on Netflix on April 29, 2021. See the teaser poster for the series below.
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