LaSean Thomas directs and LaKeith Stanfield stars in reimagined story of the first African samurai; animation being produced by ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ production studio MAPPA.
Netflix has just shared first look images and premiere date for their upcoming anime series, Yasuke, a reimagined story of the first African samurai. The six-episode series’ worldwide debut has been set for April 29, 2021. The announcement was made by creator, producer, and director LeSean Thomas (Cannon Busters) and John Derderian, Netflix, Vice President of Japan & Anime.
From Thomas and Japanese animation studio MAPPA (Attack on Titan: The Final Season, Jujutsu Kaisen), the show is set in an alternate fantastical Japan during the feudal era - the story follows a samurai warrior of African descent who must return to his life of sword-fighting and violence to protect a mysterious girl from dark forces.
The series features designs from world class director and animator Takeshi Koike (Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine), and stars award-winning actor LaKeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah), with music by Grammy Award-nominated artist Flying Lotus.
Yasuke is set in a war-torn feudal Japan filled with mechs and magic, where 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.
According to Thomas, “There is a serendipitous nature about this project, how an African-American man goes to Japan to live and work amongst the very best in Japanese anime to create an anime about an African who goes to Japan to live amongst the Japanese elite and become a warrior. Part of me deep down feels I was meant to create this adventure series with MAPPA, Flying Lotus, LaKeith and the rest of this talented team.”
“Yasuke is a fascinating, mysterious figure in Japanese history that’s drawn a growing interest in today’s media over the decades,” he continued. “I first learned of Yasuke’s role in Japanese history over a decade or so. The children’s book, ‘Kuro-suke’ by Kurusu Yoshio, featured images that piqued my curiosity. To eventually learn that he wasn’t just a fictional character, but a real person, was exciting material for an adventure story. I’m so excited for both longtime fans and newcomers to enjoy our reimagined take on this historical figure.”
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.