Netflix has released several new images from its upcoming anime series Yasuke, which will hit the streaming service on April 29.
Created by producer-director LeSean Thomas (Cannon Busters), the six-episode show features the voice of LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta) as the title character – the first African samurai.
The anime series takes place in an alternate, fantastical Japan during a war-town feudal era filled with mechs and magic. The genre-bending story follows Stanfield’s samurai warrior Yasuke – the greatest ronin never known – as he returns to his life of sword-fighting and violence in order to protect a mysterious girl from dark forces and bloodthirsty warlords.
Yasuke hails from the world-renowned Japanese animation studio MAPPA (Attack on Titan: The Final Season) and will feature original music from Grammy-nominated artist Flying Lotus, who will also serve as an executive producer on the project, which also boasts designs from noted animation director Takeshi Koike (Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine).
“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,” Thomas wrote in a Netflix blog post . “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.”
Thomas went on to address the actual historical figure known as Yasuke, who inspired him to create the anime series.
“Yasuke is a fascinating, mysterious figure in Japanese history (who has) drawn a growing interest in today’s media over the decades. 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,” added Thomas.
Netflix has high hopes for the series, as Thomas’ blog post, co-written with Netflix VP John Derderian, is titled “Redefining what Anime can be with Yasuke.” Clearly, the streamer is hoping Yasuke will prove to be an inclusive breakout of sorts among anime fans, who can also look forward to a new Terminator series from The Batman scribe Mattson Tomlin. – Collider