September 4, 2007

Afro Samurai

afro samuraiSeries: Afro Samurai
Episodes: 5
Studio: GONZO
Genre: Seinen

Jeff introduced me to Afro Samurai. When he first told me about it, I was like, "Afro? Like the 70's hairdo?" I was reluctant at first since 1) Samurai for me are Japanese alone and 2) Afro Samurai is based on a doujin. Then Jeff told me that Afro Samurai uses Samuel L. Jackson's voice. Next thing I knew, I was in front of my laptop, clicking 'play'.

Afro Samurai is about a colored samurai named Afro because of his hair (and that sentence just sounded so redundant). He is on a quest to find a gunman named Justice. Justice killed Afro's father, Rokutaro, in order to become "Number 1". It just so happens that Afro is "Number 2" and the rule is that nobody can ever challenge "Number 1" unless it's "Number 2". Okay, for those of you who are not aware of Afro Samurai yet, you're probably confused with all these numbers. I'll break it down because I'm nice.

The setting for Afro Samurai is a futuristic feudal Japan wherein warriors are ranked in numbers. They only get to advance if they beat the one ahead of them regardless of rank. The only rule is that no one can touch "Number 1" unless it's the "Number 2" warrior. The problem is, anyone can give a go at "Number 2". It sucks, but that's their rule. Oh and the way to denote their rank is through a sacred headband (the one on Afro's head on the picture) that shows their number.

Anyway, Afro tries to find Justice to take his revenge but a lot of people won't leave him alone because they want to become "Number 1" themselves. He takes on different enemies like the Empty 7, his old childhood friends and various warriors ranked lower than he is (some with no rank at all yet). Afro also has this companion named Ninja Ninja. He comes out at times when Afro is alone, saying things that Afro can't, so that's already an implication that Ninja could be Afro's conscience or something.

What I like about Afro Samurai is that the fight scenes are animated well and you get enough violence to satisfy you by the time you reach the 5th episode. The story isn't too hard to follow plus, it's a unique storyline too. Definitely worth mentioning as a "favorite" ^^

jeffnote: One of the cool things that invited me to watch Afro Samurai is the soundtrack. Produced by the RZA, the raw, very street, completely hiphop flavor of the OST accompanies the entire presentation quite nicely. The choice of artist isn't anything short of perfect either: RZA does not sound the least bit awkward rapping about number one headbands and swords and shit, thanks to his group's unusual fondness for Shaolin and martial arts. RZA's productions are never cheesy or commercial despite his success in the industry, and it can be clearly heard not only in the soundtrack of Afro Samurai but in other projects as well.
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