Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Afro Samurai

Ah shit, here we go again. 

I've heard of the reputation of this show for quite awhile honestly waaaay back in my early teens, not fully knowing the plot just knowing a lot of people held it up as a kickass show and was a unique standout in the early millenium anime scene. The plot is simple enough told over the course of five roughly 30 minute episodes, of a young boy who after seeing his father's grisly demise commits to a life of revenge against a gunslinger assassin as he takes up his father's sword and becomes the Afro Samurai. There's bits and pieces beyond it including a healthy peppering of flashbacks, and a surprising but underplayed twist of the setting. Cause when we kick off it's very feudal Japan, in terms of weaponry, architecture, and geography but then by either the first or second episode you see someone spying on Afro with I shit you not electrobinoculars straight out of Star Wars, right out of the battle of Hoth and it only gets crazier from there. Now I know the setting isn't pivotal, this isn't a Trigun situation where the more you watch the more you come to realize why the world is the way it is, this show rather centers itself around the Rule Of Cool. You wanna see Afro battle against robot shinobi? You got it. Want to see a villain use basically a handheld ballista with grenade launcher attachment? No problem. But it never forgets it's roots in samurai cinema, and while the animation is....I'm trying to find the right word for it still. It's heavily stylized, jagged yet flowing lines, the color palette is not quite black & white but leans towards greyscale, the blood is a character in and of itself with how over the top it is reaching geiser levels, and at first I thought this was a western made almost tribute to anime but it does indeed hail from the land of the rising sun itself originally created by Takashi Okazaki. It's unlike anything I've seen before but has sheer moments of pure beauty in it. I did watch the dubbed version and it was so not what I was expecting because I did know Samuel L. Jackson was the main part but Afro is seriously the strong silent type and only really starts talking closer to the end and I barely recognized his voice it was so different, but what I didn't know was Sam voiced two roles. He also voices Afro's travelling companion Ninja Ninja (yes I'm serious) who is way more what you would expect from Sam's acting. Chatterbox, throwing lingo and slang to and fro, really is only two steps away from saying the N-word, he's a funny dude and is that levity we need in a very serious story. Ron Perlman is our main villain here, once again the vocal performance is not what you expect it's not as deep voiced, it's way more for lack of a better term reptilian. Fantastic character design by the way, you barely see him in the show but you can feel the threat and the creep factor get pushed near maximum. It's a conglomeration of top voice acting talent presented here, just go look at the cast list it's crazy how many big names in the voice actor community they got. And to think this show hit the States in 2007, my God you want to talk about another time another place? The world was different, anime was different, I was but a 12 year old nerd. Can we just get back to that for a while? Can we rewind the tape please? Fuck. Before I start just getting really depressed, let's wrap this up. It is a real damn good series, feature length just 2½ hours it's worth your time if you dig this kinda shit, I'm so happy I got to see it after 17 years (Oh dear God, make it stop, make it end.), so final scores! I give it 4 stars, 8/10, and the story ain't over yet so tune in tomorrow for the actual feature continuation.

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