Afro Samurai
Genre Chanbara, science fiction, fantasy, avant-garde, black comedy, comedy-drama
Written by Takashi Okazaki
Published by Self-funded d?jinshi
English publisher Seven Seas Entertainment NA
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Nou Nou Hau (d?jinshi)
Original run September 1999 – May 2000
Volumes 1 JP, 2 NA
Directed by Fuminori Kizaki Jamie Simone
Written by Tomohiro Yamashita Derek Draper Chris Yoo
Studio Gonzo
Licensed by Funimation Entertainment NAMadman Entertainment AUS
Network Fuji Television
English network Spike NAAdult Swim/Bravo UKMTV/ABC2 AUS
Original run January 4, 2007 – February 1, 2007
Episodes 5
Directed by Fuminori Kizaki Jamie Simone
Produced by Eric Calderon Leo Chu Eric Garcia Shin'ichiro Ishikawa Samuel L. Jackson Arthur Smith
Written by Yasuyuki Mutou Josh Fialkov Eric Calderon
Studio Gonzo
Licensed by FUNimation Entertainment NAMadman Entertainment AUS
Released January 25, 2009 NA February 3, 2009 JP
Runtime 90 minutes NA 100 minutes JP

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Afro Samurai

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Volume one of the Afro Samurai manga remake, first released in America by Tor Books and Seven Seas Entertainment.

Afro Samurai (???????, Afuro Samurai?), also written AFRO SAMURAI, is a Japanese seinen d?jinshi manga series written and illustrated by manga artist Takashi Okazaki. It was originally serialized irregularly in the avant-garde d?jinshi manga magazine Nou Nou Hau from September 1999 to May 2000. Inspired by Takashi Okazaki's love of soul and hip hop music and American media, Afro Samurai follows the life of Afro Samurai who witnessed his father (owner of the No. 1 headband) being killed by the hands of a gunslinger named Justice (owner of the No. 2 headband) while he was a child. As an adult, Afro sets off to avenge his father's death and kill Justice.The Afro Samurai d?jinshi was adapted into a 5-episode anime TV series by studio Gonzo in 2007. The same studio also went on to produce a made-for-TV movie sequel entitled Afro Samurai: Resurrection in 2009, which gained two Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation, which it won, and Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More). After the release of the anime series, Takashi Okazaki remade the original Afro Samurai d?jinshi into a two-volume manga. To be only released in North America, Tor Books and Seven Seas Entertainment licensed the title and published it under their new Tor/Seven Seas imprint.In addition to the success of the anime series, Afro Samurai has also been adapted into a video game and an upcoming live-action feature film. For the TV series and the film, two soundtracks by the RZA of Wu-Tang Clan have been released as well as a profile book in Japan.

Plot

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Afro Samurai
Afro Samurai: Resurrection
Afro, now trying to live an ordinary life, refuses any challenge for his No. 1 headband. One dark and stormy night, Jinno, and a mysterious woman named Sio, attack Afro. They easily defeat him and take his No. 1 headband as well as his father's remains. Sio tells Afro her plans to resurrect his father, Rokutaro, so she can torture him as revenge against Afro for the lives he has destroyed and for what has happened to her brother, Jinno. Afro, determined to regain the No. 1 as well as his father's remains, sets off to find the No. 2 headband. Afro eventually learns that the bearer of the No. 2 is a man named Shichigoro.

Afro confronts Shichigoro, regains the No. 2, and continues on toward Sio. Along the way he is observed by three mysterious warriors from his past. He eventually battles them while Sio revives Afro's father. Afro defeats the three and is confronted by Sio, Jinno, and his resurrected father. However, Rokutaro is revived before he is completely restored, leaving him a mindless killing machine. Rokutaro defeats and almost kills Afro, when Jinno comes to Afro's aid in a sudden change of heart. Landing only a few blows, Jinno is quickly dispatched by Rokutaro, who then kills Sio. The cybernetic remains of Jinno give off an electrical surge, which, conducted through the spilled blood of Afro, revives him. Afro then defeats Rokotaro and reclaims the No. 1 headband.

Afro walks away from the battle, wearing the No. 1 headband and clutching the No. 2 headband in hand. He comes across an orphan who seeks vengeance for Shichigoro and hands him the No. 2, telling him to challenge him when he's ready.

Characters

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Production

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Takashi Okazaki started drawing African-American characters on items like Kleenex boxes when he was a teenager, inspired by his fondness for hip hop and soul music. He also drew ideas from American media and their depiction of Japanese culture. Takashi started combining elements of samurai into his work, eventually developing the design for Afro. Takashi Okazaki began writing the original d?jinshi, then called Afro Samurai!, when he and his friends started independently publishing the art magazine Nou Nou Hau. The preparatory "issue 0" of Nou Nou Hau was released on November 1998 with Afro Samurai artwork featured on the cover. Takashi Okazaki wrote the entire manga in the English direction, with elements from English and Japanese comics. He also used Afro Samurai for a cat food advertisement in the last pages of his mange book.

In addition to the anime production, Takashi Okazaki re-made the d?jinshi, with much better art skills. At the Japan Society from March 13 to June 14, 2009, original Afro Samurai d?jinshi artwork (as used on issue 0 of Nou Nou Hau) was showcased at the KRAZY!: The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games exhibition.

Media

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Manga
Written and illustrated by Takashi Okazaki, Afro Samurai was originally published in the self-funded Nou Nou Hau d?jinshi magazine. First appearing in issue 0, the d?jinshi version was first published from September 1999 to October 2000. After the release of the anime version, Takashi Okazaki recreated the original d?jinshi. Although the recreation of the original manga was created in Japan, it was first published in the United States by Seven Seas Entertainment and Tor Books in two tank?bon volumes. As a special supplement, thumb-nail sized clips of the original d?jinshi were shown at the end of the first volume. The English release of the manga was Tor Books and Seven Seas' first publication under the newly formed Tor/Seven Seas imprint. The manga was also released in Italy through Panini Comics' manga publishing division Planet Manga, starting on April 9, 2009. The manga was released in one volume in Japan on December 18, 2009. The limited edition came with all the issues of the original d?jinshi included in a separate volume.

No.TitleRelease dateISBN
1Nothing personal...it's just revenge.September 2008ISBN 978-0-7653-2123-7
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Translation Notes
  • Supplemental Material
Afro witnessed his father get killed by Justice. Afro, now with the No. 2 headband sets forth to avenge his father's death. On his way Afro encounters several foes.
2Death isn't the end...it's only the beginning.February 2009ISBN 978-0-7653-2239-5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8
  • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Honorifics Guide
  • Translation Notes
  • Creator Interview


Anime
One of Takashi Okazaki's friends decided to make action figures based on the character, which were released in small amounts. After the action figures were created, a producer from the Japanese studio, Gonzo, happened to find them and thought of an animated TV project based on the series. The anime took three years to develop, and in the three years the studio also created a trailer, which happened to fall into the hands of Samuel L. Jackson. It was announced that the project would be a five-episode "creative collaboration" between Samuel L. Jackson, Takashi Okazaki, and Gonzo, with a music score by hip hop artist RZA from the rap group Wu-Tang Clan. In 2006, it was announced that Funimation Entertainment acquired the rights to the anime series which would premier on Spike TV (now simply known as "Spike") later that year, and that Samuel L. Jackson would voice Afro.Afro Samurai debuted on Spike TV, on January 4, 2007. The series' worldwide premier was on Spike TV's website where they streamed the first episode online. The anime was later released on Japanese television Thursday, May 3, 2007, in English with Japanese subtitles. The Japanese air was released completely uncut. On Friday, May 11, 2007 Funimation released the first Afro Samurai DVDs at Anime Central, at their own booth, the regular Afro Samurai: Spike Version and the uncut Afro Samurai: Director's Cut. Both DVDs were released to the public on May 22, 2007. On September 4, 2007, all five episodes of Afro Samurai were released on iTunes. To promote this, Funimation released eight custom designed iPods by Takashi Okazaki. In 2008, Funimation released the Afro Samurai anime series onto Xbox Live in high definition format and also debuted on Blu-ray Disc in that year. Also in 2008, Afro Samurai was shown at the German Film Festival in Germany.

#TitleOriginal air date
01"Revenge"
"Number One"  
January 4, 2007
As a boy, Afro witnessed his father's death by the hands of a man looking to claim the title of No. 1. Now a grown man, he has the title of No. 2 and sets out on his journey of revenge. 
02"The Dream Reader"
"OKIKU"  
January 11, 2007
Afro relives his harsh past through his dreams when he is discovered by a local by the riverbank who tends to his wounds. 
03"The Empty Seven Clan"
"THE EMPTY SEVEN CLAN"  
January 18, 2007
As The Clan of the Empty Seven continues to put pressure on Afro, he must battle his deadliest foe yet, himself. 
04"Duel"
"KUMA"  
January 25, 2007
The past comes back to teach Afro a lesson about the consequences of choosing revenge over family, and what it really means to wear the No. 2 headband. 
05"Justice"
"JUSTICE"  
February 1, 2007
Afro battles with his childhood friend and makes his final ascension towards the number one, Justice. 


Films
In an Associated Press interview in 2007, Takashi Okazaki confirmed there would be a sequel to the anime series, and that it would also be shown on Spike TV. In 2008, the sequel was announced to be a TV movie titled Afro Samurai: Resurrection, and that actors Lucy Liu and Mark Hamill would join the voice acting cast. Hip hop artist RZA also came back to provide the soundtrack for the movie. Afro Samurai: Resurrection debuted on Spike TV on the night of January 25, 2009. On July 16, 2009, Afro Samurai: Resurrection was nominated for an Emmy in the "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming one hour or more)" category in the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards and the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. At the Emmy awards, Afro Samurai: Resurrection lost to Destination Imagination, a TV movie based on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. The art director of Afro Samurai: Resurrection, Shigemi Ikeda, won an Emmy for his work on Resurrection, which is the first ever awarded for work on a Japanese-animated production.Afro Samurai: Resurrection was the first Japanese anime to be nominated for and win an Emmy.

Late 2009 also saw the release of Afro Samurai: Complete Murder Sessions on Blu-Ray and DVD. A 4-disc collection of both Afro Samurai Director's Cut and Afro Samurai: Resurrection, together in one complete boxset.

Announced at the 2006 Comic-Con, a live action version of Afro Samurai was said to be in the making.

Video games
In 2005, Gonzo had awarded Namco Bandai Games exclusive rights to publish to Afro Samurai video games, as announced that year. The debut trailer of the first game was released at the company's Editor's Day presentation.Afro Samurai was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 27, 2009.

Soundtracks
Wu-Tang Clan member RZA produced the soundtrack for both the Afro Samurai TV series and the TV movie sequel Afro Samurai: Resurrection. The first soundtrack for the anime series, The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai: The Soundtrack was released on January 30, 2007 by Koch Records (now known as E1 Music). The second soundtrack for the TV movie, The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai: Resurrection: The Soundtrack was also released by Koch Records on January 27, 2009.

Cast

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Afro Samurai

  • Samuel L. Jackson - Afro Samurai, Ninja Ninja
  • Kelly Hu - Otsuro
  • Ron Perlman - Justice
  • Jeff Bennett - Foo, Hachiro
  • Steven Blum - Assassin
  • S. Scott Bullock - Dharman (Director's Cut Version)
  • T.C. Carson - Sword Master, Brother 4
  • Grey DeLisle - Oyuki, Woman
  • John DiMaggio - Brother 2, Giant, Ivanov, Patron #2
  • Greg Eagles - Rokutaro, Brother 6
  • John Kassir - Soshun
  • Phil LaMarr - Brother 1, Brother 3, Brother 5, Dharman (original version), Kuro, Teen Afro Samurai
  • Yuri Lowenthal - Jinnosuke/Kuma
  • Jason Marsden - Sasuke
  • Liam O'Brien - Kihachi, Patron #4
  • Crystal Scales - Young Afro Samurai
  • Dwight Schultz - Assassin #1, Patron #1, Ronin
  • Tara Strong - Jiro, Otsuro
  • Fred Tatasciore - Juzo, Patron #5, Shuzo
  • James Arnold Taylor - Yasichi
  • Dave Wittenberg - Assassin, Matasaburo, Patron #3, Punk


Afro Samurai: Resurrection
  • Samuel L. Jackson - Afro Samurai, Ninja Ninja
  • Lucy Liu - Sio
  • Mark Hamill - Bin, Oden Shop Master
  • Jeff Bennett - Brother 3
  • Steven Blum - Assassins, Man A
  • S. Scott Bullock - Dharman, Kidnapper
  • Grey DeLisle - Tomoe, Ogin
  • Greg Eagles - Rokutaro
  • Zachary Gordon - Kotaro
  • Phil LaMarr - Teen Afro Samurai
  • Yuri Lowenthal - Jinnosuke/Kuma
  • Liam O'Brien - Shichogoro
  • Kevin Michael Richardson - Blacksmith, Takimoto
  • RZA - DJ
  • Ariel Winter - Young Sio
  • Dave Wittenberg - Adolescent, Fencing Brother


Crew

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  • Samuel L. Jackson - Executive Producer
  • Jamie Simone - Casting and Voice Director


Reception

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The Afro Samurai manga series has received generally positive reviews from critics. Scott Green, writer of the Anime AICN segment of Ain't It Cool News said that the manga "is a work of design" and that it "utilizes the medium to which it is applied as a platform rather than as an ends unto itself." Scott notes that Okazaki does not have a "head for manga as a storytelling form" and that the "manga labors to show off Okazaksi' [sic] design."Anime News Network reviewer, Carlo Santos stated about the anime that "like most typical action-adventures, the story starts out slow and only picks up toward the middle and end when the blades really start flying" and that "Afro Samurai is hardly a complex story" and that it only has "a handful of characters and a straightforward beat-the-next-guy plotline". Carlo Santos also noted that "the original Afro Samurai manga is pretty lousy" and that Takashi Okazaki often gets lost in "incomprehensible scribbles" and "style over substance." Volume 2 of Afro Samurai also charted 147 on ComiPress' "Top 250 Manga Volumes" of February 2009. The Blu-ray release of the anime series charted #16 on VideoScan's Blu-ray charts. Zac Bertschy of Anime News Nerwork stated about Afro Samurai: Resurrection that "it's a gorgeous film," with "incredible animation, spectacular action setpieces [sic] and a thumping score by The RZA". Zac noted that the plot is just "window dressing" and that if it's about anything it's about "cool". Zac criticized that the film is just an excuse to string fight scenes together and that the farther it goes on it becomes clearer how "weak the writing is".Hyper commends the anime for its art, saying, "stylised poses and sharp, dynamic visuals have long been a trademark element of this series, and they hold true [in the anime]." In January 2009, IGN ranked Afro Samurai 90th on a list of the top 100 animated series, saying that the over-the-top violence and quirky story and characters made the show enjoyable

Some of the content on this page has been provided by the following page on Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro_Samurai


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