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This article is about the anime and manga series. For the video game, see Afro Samurai (video game).


Afro Samurai (アフロサムライ Afuro Samurai?), also written AFRO SAMURAI, is a Japanese seinen dōjinshi manga series written and illustrated by manga artist Takashi Okazaki. It was originally serialized irregularly in the avant-garde dōjinshi 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 dōjinshi 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 dōjinshi 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

Afro Samurai

In a futuristic yet feudal Japan, it is said that the one who wields the Number 1 headband is the fiercest fighter in the world and shall possess godlike powers. The only way to obtain the Number 1 headband is to challenge and defeat him in combat. However, only the Number 2 can challenge the Number 1, while anyone can challenge the Number 2, which causes a constant struggle for the Number 2 headband.

Justice, the owner of the No. 2 headband, goes to fight the owner of the No. 1 headband, Rokutaro. The two battle, ending with Justice decapitating Rokutaro and claiming his headband. Rokutaro's head rolls in front of his son, a young boy named Afro, as he sobs and vows revenge.

Now an adult, Afro Samurai is the current No. 2 and a master swordsman. He travels Japan trying to make his way to the mountain-top keep where Justice awaits. As he makes his way to Justice, he recalls his journey from a frightened young boy to a master samurai. Along the way, many people challenge Afro for his headband, including the "Empty Seven Clan" who send various agents, including a robotic Afro, to kill him throughout his travels. He is also being hunted by his vengeful childhood friend Jinno, who was long thought to be dead. Afro eventually defeats his enemies, Jinno, and finally confronts Justice. Afro learns that there are other headbands in existence, ranging to an unspecified higher number, and sees that the corpses of those who wore them are skewered throughout the room where Justice awaits. Afro defeats Justice and takes the No. 1 headband, and the other headbands disappear.

Afro decides to live in the mountains once again. Jinno, adorned with every headband in existence, returns and confronts Afro for the No. 1 band and his revenge.

Afro Samurai: Resurrection

Afro refuses to wear the No. 1 headband as the rules require, and spends his days making wooden sculptures of people from his past instead of fighting. One dark and stormy night, Jinno (now mindlessly taking orders) and a mysterious woman named Sio attack Afro. Jinno easily defeats him and takes the No. 1 headband for Seo and then robs his father's grave of his remains. Sio is revealed to be Jinno's sister. Sio tells Afro her plans to resurrect Afro's father, Rokutaro, so she can torture him as revenge against Afro for the lives he has destroyed, including her brother's and her own. Seo challenges Afro to find the No. 2 headband to earn the right to challenge her. Afro, determined to recover the No. 1 headband and his father's remains, sets off to find the No. 2 headband and eventually learns that the bearer of the No. 2 headband is a man named Shichigoro.

Afro, in search of Shichigoro, coincidentally kills the kidnapper of Schichigoro's son and prompts Shichigoro to buy him a drink. They eventually fight to the death with the No. 2 headband at stake, and upon victory Afro continues on toward Sio. Along the way he is observed by three masked, android warriors from his past. The warriors are revealed to be a part of Sio's original plan to overwhelm Afro in the final battle, but apparently had decided to battle Afro early in an attempt to finish off before Sio had to dirty her hands.

Afro battles and defeats the three while Sio attempts to resurrect a mind-controlled version of Afro's father. However, Rokutaro is revived before he is completely restored, leaving him merely a mindless, though apparently somewhat controllable, killing machine. Afro defeats the three and is soon confronted by Sio, Jinno, and his resurrected father. With Afro hesitant to fight his father, Rokutaro defeats and kills him (stops his heart from beating). Jinno comes to Afro's aid, though pointless as Sio points out, in a sudden flash of selective memories of being a childhood friend and sparring partner with Afro. Landing only a few blows, Jinno is quickly killed by Rokutaro, who kills Sio in the same blow when she attempts to come to Jinno's aid. The cybernetic remains of Jinno give off an electrical surge, which, conducted through the spilled blood of Sio, restarts Afro's heart. Afro apparently defeats Rokotaro and emerges from the scene wearing the No. 1 headband.

Afro walks away from the battle, wearing the No. 1 headband and clutching the No. 2 headband in right hand. He comes across Shichigoro's orphaned son, who had been following him, and hands him the No. 2, telling him to challenge him when he's ready.

Characters

Production

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.[1] Takashi started combining elements of samurai into his work, eventually developing the design for Afro. Takashi Okazaki began writing the original dōjinshi, then called Afro Samurai!, when he and his friends started independently publishing the art magazine Nou Nou Hau.[2] The preparatory "issue 0" of Nou Nou Hau was released on November 1998 with Afro Samurai artwork featured on the cover.[3] 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.[4]

In addition to the anime production, Takashi Okazaki re-made the dōjinshi, with much better art skills.[4] At the Japan Society from March 13 to June 14, 2009, original Afro Samurai dōjinshi artwork (as used on issue 0 of Nou Nou Hau) was showcased at the KRAZY!: The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games exhibition.[5]

Media

Manga

Written and illustrated by Takashi Okazaki, Afro Samurai was originally published in the self-funded Nou Nou Hau dōjinshi magazine.[2] First appearing in issue 0, the dōjinshi version was first published from September 1999 to October 2000.[3] After the release of the anime version, Takashi Okazaki recreated the original dōjinshi.[4] 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 tankōbon volumes.[6] As a special supplement, thumb-nail sized clips of the original dōjinshi were shown at the end of the first volume.[7] The English release of the manga was Tor Books and Seven Seas' first publication under the newly formed Tor/Seven Seas imprint.[6] The manga was also released in Italy through Panini Comics' manga publishing division Planet Manga, starting on April 9, 2009.[8] The manga was released in one volume in Japan on December 18, 2009. The limited edition came with all the issues of the original dōjinshi included in a separate volume.[1]

<tr style="border-bottom: 3px solid #CCF"><th style="width: 4%;">No.</th><th>Title</th><th style="width: 24%;">Release date</th><th style="width: 24%;"> ISBN</th></tr> <tr style="text-align: center;"><td id="vol1">1</td><td style="text-align: left;">Nothing personal...it's just revenge.</td><td>September 2008[9]</td><td>ISBN 978-0-7653-2123-7</td></tr><tr style="vertical-align: top; "><td colspan="4">
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Translation Notes
  • Supplemental Material
  • </td></tr><tr style="border-bottom: 3px solid #CCF; text-align: left;"><td colspan="4">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.</td></tr>

    <tr style="text-align: center;"><td id="vol2">2</td><td style="text-align: left;">Death isn't the end...it's only the beginning.</td><td>February 2009[9]</td><td>ISBN 978-0-7653-2239-5</td></tr><tr style="vertical-align: top; border-bottom: 3px solid #CCF;"><td colspan="4">
    • Chapter 6
    • Chapter 7
    • Chapter 8
    • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Honorifics Guide
  • Translation Notes
  • Creator Interview
  • </td></tr> </table>

    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.[10] 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.[11][12] 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.[13] Afro Samurai debuted on Spike TV, on January 4, 2007.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18][19] Also in 2008, Afro Samurai was shown at the German Film Festival in Germany.[20]

    # Title Original air date
    01 Revenge
    "Number One" ()
    January 4, 2007 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
    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 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
    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 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
    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 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
    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 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
    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.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24][25] 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.[26] Afro Samurai: Resurrection was the first Japanese anime to be nominated for and win an Emmy.[25]

    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.[27]

    Video games

    In 2005, Gonzo had awarded Namco Bandai Games exclusive rights to publish to Afro Samurai video games, as announced that year.[28] The debut trailer of the first game was released at the company's Editor's Day presentation.[29] Afro Samurai was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 27, 2009.[30][31]

    Soundtracks

    Wu-Tang Clan member RZA produced the soundtrack for both the Afro Samurai TV series and the TV movie sequel Afro Samurai: Resurrection.[12][23] 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).[32] 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.[33]

    Cast

    Afro Samurai

    Afro Samurai: Resurrection

    Crew

    Reception

    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."[34] 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."[35] Volume 2 of Afro Samurai also charted 147 on ComiPress' "Top 250 Manga Volumes" of February 2009.[36] The Blu-ray release of the anime series charted #16 on VideoScan's Blu-ray charts.[19] 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".[37] 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]."[38] 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 [39]

    References

    1. 1.0 1.1 Script error
    2. 2.0 2.1 Epstein, Daniel Robert; Takashi Okazaki. "Afro Samurai: Takashi Okazaki Interview". 670 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012: UGO.com/UGO Networks, Inc. Retrieved August 31, 2009.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
    3. 3.0 3.1 "NOU NOU HAU vol.0". Kugelblitz. 2005–2006. Retrieved August 31, 2009. 
    4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Script error
    5. Aoki, Deb (2009). "Afro Samurai by Takashi Okazaki". About.com. Retrieved September 19, 2009. 
    6. 6.0 6.1 "Tor Books Partners with Seven Seas to Form New Manga Imprint and Announces Publication of Afro Samurai". ComiPress. December 8, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
    7. Okazaki, Takashi (2009) [2009]. Adam Arnold, ed. Afro Samurai 1 (1 ed.). Seven Seas Entertainment. ISBN 978-0-7653-2239-5. OCLC 248983719.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
    8. Script error
    9. 9.0 9.1 "Afro Samurai" (PHP). Seven Seas Entertainment, LLC. 2004–2009. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
    10. "Afro Samurai Vol 1". 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010: Macmillan. 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2009. 
    11. "Afro Samurai Press Release". Anime News Network. May 5, 2005. Retrieved September 2, 2009. 
    12. 12.0 12.1 "The RZA Gets His Afro Samurai On". Anime News Network. June 2, 2006. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
    13. "Funimation Acquires Afro Samurai". Anime News Network. February 27, 2006. Retrieved September 2, 2009. 
    14. "Afro Samurai Hits Spike TV on January 4". Anime News Network. October 31, 2006. Retrieved September 2, 2009. 
    15. "Afro Samurai to Air on Japanese TV in May". Anime News Network. March 8, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2009. 
    16. "Funimation to Sell Advance DVD Copies at Anime Central". Anime News Network. May 11, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2009. 
    17. "Funimation Puts Afro Samurai on iTunes, Gives Away Custom iPods". Anime News Network. September 1, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2009. 
    18. "Free Bakugan #1 on iTunes; HD Afro Samurai on Xbox Live". Anime News Network. February 29, 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
    19. 19.0 19.1 "VideoScan: Afro Samurai Debuted on Blu-ray at #16". Anime News Network. September 10, 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
    20. "Eva:1.0, L, Afro Samurai to Run in German Film Fest". Anime News Network. August 8, 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
    21. "Afro Samurai Creator Takashi Okazaki Confirms Sequel". Anime News Network. October 25, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
    22. "Lucy Liu, Mark Hamill Join Afro Samurai: Resurrection (Updated)". Anime News Network. July 24, 2008. Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
    23. 23.0 23.1 "Afro Samurai: Resurrection Movie Debuts Sunday Night". Anime News Network. July 25, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
    24. "Afro Samurai: Resurrection TV Film Nominated for Emmy (Updated)". Anime News Network. July 16, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
    25. 25.0 25.1 "Foster's Home Wins Emmy over Afro Samurai: Resurrection". Anime News Network. September 15, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
    26. "Afro Samurai: Resurrection's Shigemi Ikeda Wins Emmy (Updated)". Anime News Network. August 27, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
    27. "Comic-Con: Live Action Afro Samurai". Anime News Network. July 22, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2009. 
    28. "Namco to Publish Afro Samurai Video Games". Anime News Network. August 30, 2005. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
    29. "Namco Bandai Announces Afro Samurai Game". Anime News Network. June 17, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
    30. "Afro Samurai". Amazon.com. January 27, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009. 
    31. Szadkowski, Joseph (Thursday, February 19, 2009). "Zadzooks: Review of Afro Samurai, the video game". The Washington Times. 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C.: The Washington Times. Retrieved September 15, 2009.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
    32. "Afro Samurai [EXPLICIT LYRICS]". Amazon.com. January 30, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2009.  delete character in |title= at position 14 (help)
    33. "Afro Samurai Resurrection [EXPLICIT LYRICS] [SOUNDTRACK]". Amazon.com. January 27, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009.  delete character in |title= at position 27 (help)
    34. Green, Scott (Friday, September 19, 2008). "AICN Anime-Afro Samurai Manga, A Survey of Upcoming Events, News and More!". Austin, TX 78718-0011 USA: Ain't It Cool News/Ain't It Cool, Inc. Retrieved September 17, 2009.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
    35. Santos, Carlo (November 4, 2008). "Afro Samurai Blu-Ray". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
    36. Blind, Matt (March 10, 2009). "2009-02: Manga Top 250 Volumes and Top 100 Series for February 2009". ComiPress. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
    37. Bertschy, Zac (January 27, 2009). "Afro Samurai: Resurrection Director's Cut DVD". Anime News Network. Retrieved October 29, 2009. 
    38. "Afro Samurai: Resurrection". Hyper (Next Media) (192): 89. October 2009. ISSN 1320-7458. 
    39. http://tv.ign.com/top-100-animated-tv-series/90.html

    External links

    Template:Afro Samuraiit:Afro Samurai ms:Afro Samuraipl:Afro Samurairu:Афросамурай tl:Afro Samurai

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