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alright, so i've true a lot of negative reviews of this present on here. Well kids, i'm going to defend this show, because there's a lot too it you guys are missing out on.Afro Samurai is the fresh anime produced by and starring Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, as well as high end voice talent like Phil LaMarr of Samurai Jack fame, and Ron Perlman, the boy who is and will everytime be Hellboy.Like the nice works of Shinichiro Watanabe, this work employs heavily the influence of western culture, specifically black western culture, which i suppose makes sense considering our stoic protagonist. actually when i tell black western culture, i'm not just talking about hip-hop music, i'm talking about Blaxploitation as well.for those of you who don't know, Blaxploitation was a sub-genre of the 70's Exploitation movies that dominated the drive-in stage during that period of American cinema history. the most popular and available Blaxploitation movies these days are probably the Dolemite series of films, the Shaft series, or the classic Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song. these movies were, for the most part terrible, but they influenced a generation of post-civil rights urban youth struggling to search an identity into action. they were stylish, fun, and gave an overall message of standing up for yourself and being proud of who you are, despite their inherent sexism, these movies were the Noir flicks of their day, gritty and edgy and bleeding style. theaters in the 70's that would carry Exploitation and Blaxploitation movies also carried many Kung Fu and Samurai films, so when 70's funk culture evolved into hip hop culture, it wasn't so shocking that the kids who idolized Sweet Sweetback, also pulled influence from Yojimbo and Zoatichi, in fact, one of those kids of influence even did the score for Afro Samurai - The RZA of The Wu Tang Clan, a seminal rap group that not only incorporated samurai and kung fu movies into their lyrics, but into the melody itself as well.Okay, History lesson over, the reason i wanted to create you read all that is so that you have a better concept of where Afro Samurai is coming from, it is, for all intents and purposes, the coming together of cultures that are not, and have never been so far apart as you may think. a lot of folks are also calling Afro-Samurai a kid of the spaghetti western genre, which i suppose is true, but it gotta also be understood that the spaghetti western was heavily influenced by samurai movies before them. Sergio Leone probably wouldn't even have a career if it wasn't for Akira Kurosowa's films.Now, onto the present itself. Afro Samurai is incredibly simple, but i tell that in the most endearing method possible. being convoluted is not a prerequisite of having substance or being artistic. Samurai Jack, a long running and long praised present has proved this time and again. nice stories like the Hellboy series of comics or the famous Battlestar Galactica show, are nice because they manage to turn schlocky cheese into high art, by giving it a modern overhaul. Afro Samurai takes it one step further, to the mission where the schlock IS the art. Anime is very much like our ver of the Exploitation category of yesteryear, it's very underground, but still holds popularity and knowledge in the mainstream, it's filled with shitty crap, but the nice items is worth watching, and it has it's own very special style that has influenced generations of artists who've been exposed to it. the storyline of Afro Samurai is very very basic, it's a revenge storyline because it needn't be anything more than a revenge story. it's intent isn't to change your life or create you weep for it's tragic hero, it's intent is to create your eyes melt and your heart pump, and maybe throw in a laugh or two. there's a saying: You Don't watch Slay Bill the same method you watch Shindler's List. that applies. shows like Afro Samurai and the vampire miniseries Hellsing are wonderful shows because they take from the well of culture not everybody likes to admit is there, and shows you something that takes it one step further, shows you what those movie makers of yesteryear should have done with the technology at our disposal today. they work on a storytelling lvl because the stories are easy and have been said many times. they are human stories. the concept of Afro Samurai, i can tell with some confidence, was never to receive you thinking about our society like Ghost in the Shell or Neon Genesis, it's not that horse. Afro Samurai is meant to appeal to something deeper than your ego or your intellect, it appeals to your instinct. that's why it's so stylish. it's pleasure is purely aesthetic, and that is not at all a terrible thing. Anime has a long history of taking from western culture and vice-versa, i like to think of Afro Samurai less as a corny bloodbath, and more a celebration of the corny bloodbaths we all know and love. western stories like Fist Full o' Dollars, The Nice The Terrible and The Ugly, and eastern stories like Ninja Scroll and Yojimbo. the standard for art these days is too narrow and too pretentious considering our history. i love Afro Samurai because it's not trying to deny all the things we hate to love, blood, gore, revenge, and i'm not telling that to be nihilistic or cynical. i'm telling that because it's true, it's just easier to justify revenge and blood and gore when we can come up with some over-convoluted plot to fit it into. well screw that.Enjoy.
Can you dig it?This is what you receive when you mix Japanese samurai flicks, ultra-savvy blaxploitation attitude, future-tense technology, and hip-hop into one energetic camp hybrid that takes NO prisoners.The pseudo-Anime' "Afro Samurai" is set in a futuristic feudal Japan, in which all the swordsmen in the globe are in a murderous pursuit of the #1 Headband, which once obtained, would let its wearer to call himself a god and master of all that he surveys. So when #1 is killed in a war with gun-totting madman and #2 Headband Justice (Ron Perlman), #1's son Afro (Samuel L. Jackson) swears an oath of vengeance vs now-#1 Justice. Undergoing conventional samurai training by a renowned master, young Afro grows up, receives the #2 Headband, sets out on his point of revenge and attempts to receive the #1 Headband, cutting down each single boy who challenges him. Bearing witness to it all is Afro's loyal sidekick and only friend, Ninja Ninja (also voiced by Jackson), who provides much of the show's comic relief.In many ways, at least to me, "Afro Samurai" was a long time coming. Ever since first getting wind of it in late 2006 and catching a several episodes during its short, five-episode run on Spike TV earlier this year, I've become an "Afro Samurai" fanatic. As a longtime fanatic of Japanese animation and Manga (Japanese comics), "Afro Samurai" slash and slashed its method into my heart from its earliest moments when Afro's father is challenged and defeated by the maniacal Justice. I've waited a long time for something to come along that fused hip-hop and Japanese animation into a relentless action feast and when it finally came along, I was not the slightest bit displeased. The animated present "The Boondocks" is other example of this Anime'/hip-hop trend done right.But first and foremost, "Afro Samurai" is only concerned with one thing: style over substance, that means excessive sword-play and violence over anything even remotely resembling a discernible plot. Create no mistake, though, while this is a visually arresting feast for the eyes, it is definitely not for the squeamish, much less anyone under the tender age of 17. The brain-child of author Takashi Okazaki, director Fuminori Kizaki and co-writers Tomohiro Yamashita and Yasuyuki Muto, "Afro Samurai" lets the blood flow (but really, more like spray) in fountains and geysers. The blood flows in copious amounts in the different martial arts sword-fighting sequences, which are excellently and stylishly executed much like Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films or your favourite samurai blood-letters. The dynamic and surreal score by Wu-Tang Guild co-founder and "Afro Samurai" soundtrack producer The RZA is quite a stand-out, and blares up during the most intense action. Any soundtrack that details hip-hop legends such as Large Daddy Kane, Wu-Tang Guild co-founder GZA, Q-Tip (formerly of A Tribe Named Quest), and Talib Kweli - you can bet I'm picking it up.So as you can see, I've told nothing but nice things thus far. Many have maligned the fact that since Afro speaks so tiny in this series, his hero comes to be defined by the method he viciously cuts down his adversaries in the many war sequences. Probably like your favourite swordsman who speaks tiny but carries a large sword, Afro is really nothing new. In fact, if you look deeper, his comic foil Ninja Ninja should also be considered Afro's wild, fun-loving, and talkative alter-ego (since there were a several times when I felt Ninja Ninja wasn't even real)."Afro Samurai" also has one of the most memorable casts of terrible guys ever assembled for animation outside of Japan. I already mentioned Justice, but there's also the monk/assassin collective, the Empty 7, the teddy bear-headed Kuma, and assorted massive artillery-totting hired assassins and disposable bandits and hoodlums. Although I was a tiny disappointed that babe Kelly Hu as Okiku didn't have a bigger role, she only seemed to be in it for the sex appeal (and as the director's slash proves, to give a tiny something for the guys who may be watching). Although an odd choice for a role such as this, Samuel L. Jackson is a thorough double-edged sword as both Afro and Ninja Ninja. (It's difficult to trust this is the same boy who once played the Bible-quoting hit-man Jules Winnfield in 1994's "Pulp Fiction.")With "Afro Samurai," an Anime' fanatic gets something that he's everytime wanted and more: a piece of animation that blends so many distant categories and fuses them into one hell of an eye-popping action experience. Now, if only he can convince his another Anime'- and "Kenshin"-loving mates to watch the one and only dude wit' a head full of hair, "Afro Samurai."10/10
Afro Samurai started as life as manga before animation studio GONZO adapted the storyline into a five episode series that premiered online January 1 2007.Like most contemporary anime, Afro Samurai is other exercise in culture jamming, straddling categories as diverse as Blaxploitation, kung-fu cinema, splatter flicks, western and, of course, Japanese animation. Samuel L. Jackson lends his talents in the voice department, and is also credited as one of the shows producers.The plot revolves around Afro - nicknamed after his hairstyle - a perpetually silent and bloodthirsty master swordsman, whose quest involves exacting bloody revenge on the boy who killed his father, and claiming the game of 'Number One'; a fighter whose powers are comparable to those of a god. Given only five episodes to work with, structure is cute tight here, so there are no filler episodes or meandering off-sides or tangents to distract from the narrative's focus. Although the series seems to lack that 'epic' adventure feel, episodes are never anti-climactic; this is a relief to the casual anime viewer who just wants to receive to the carnage.And carnage there is a-plenty. The plot of Afro Samurai is really just an after thought; it's the war scenes that are really the star of the present here. A word to the squeamish: Afro Samurai is one of the bloodiest, goriest and most anatomically detailed anime series on the market, so if you've got stomach problems with splatter flicks, avoid this one like syphilis. If, however, high-definition animated gore-porn is your thing, Afro Samurai will not disappoint. Every war stage is beautifully choreographed and fluidly animated to deliver some truly jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching, wince "oh man, that's must hurt"-inducing scenes of unadulterated devastation on the human body. Be-heading, disemboweling and eye-stabbing are just an entrée.The only thing wrong with Afro Samurai is that it's all over too soon. Most anime fanatics are used to more meat on the bones, so for many the narrative will feel underdone and the characters under-developed. This is probably a side-effect of the show's authors attempting to cross anime over to a mainstream Western audience, but, in doing so, seem to have sacrificed content for carnage. And while carnage seems to be the entire mission of Afro Samurai, five episodes is still remarkably short. Although the series swiftly resolves itself in a fairly predictable way, there is an immense potential for spin-off projects (there's a film rumor already doing the rounds in cyberspace) and the present itself is re-watchable many times over, if only to sample the audacious ultra-violence again and again. For those of you with an unquenchable blood-lust, Afro Samurai will have you screaming with delight.
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