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Afro Samurai (2007 – )

by on 2013/05/19

afro_samurai“Can’t you see the brother is down…?”

* * * *

Who would have thought the origin story would have so much blood in it?

Blood –  Afro Samurai has it by the slurping, slopping bucketful. There are great arching spurts, pressurized arterial sprays, giant billowing gusts and ocean waves of blood.

There’s also heads popping off like the fourth of July.

Afro Samurai is one crazy, bloody, violent, incredibly engaging, cartoon.

I don’t know what it is with me and mostly silent action heroes whose origin stories involve their parents being decapitated or otherwise killed bloody in front of them, but there’s a definite thread there.

Afro Samurai is pretty much what you’d expect from the moment you lay eyes on the cover animation.

Afro is like Shaft, a bad mother, a cat who won’t cop out, with a samurai sword at his side …you know, when he isn’t plunging it into a bad guy’s throat. He’s taciturn, tortured and when he speaks, which is rare, his voice is that of incredible voice acting and comedic talent Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise) and as the elder Afro, Samuel L. Jackson (The Spirit).

I’m not normally a fan of anime but for Afro Samurai I will make an exception.

Samuel L. Jackson is also the white-haired Ninja Ninja, the Iago, trickster and old man in the hero’s journey, all rolled into one jumpy old dude.

This is feudal Japan with cell phones, brain scans and psychic espionage. There’s tragedy, pathos, action, sex and blood. I found myself really hoping for Afro, but he just kept getting screwed over, again and again.

Afro is deadly, but he is vulnerable. You get to know him as a child in flashbacks, making his quest for revenge wholly sympathetic.

The thugs are inhumanly evil, the women are lovely, the plots are complex, the action sequences are bloodily balletic.

Afro is cool, flinty, a blaxploitation superhero in a kimono. Ninja Ninja said it best, “Man, you really are a cold-blooded motherfucker.”

Not sure that cartoons get any better than this – for me, anyway.

* * * *

125 minutes

Rated 18A for intense violence, adult situations and nudity

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  1. A Goth’s Month in Review: May 2013 | Geek vs Goth

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