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via Netflix Yasuke is all about Japan’s first black samurai, though a history lesson isn’t provided by this six-part Netflix animated series. Driven by an intercultural spirit that blends East and West – and classic and modern – to create something refreshingly unique, the animated adventure of showrunner and director LeSean Thomas (premiered April 29) uses his origins as a springboard for a fantastic feudal war story in which swordsmen and archers fight alongside giant mechas, sentient robots and magical warriors. Think of it as a hybrid of Yojimbo, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Lone Wolf and Cub, much of which is covered in torrents of arterial spray blood.LaKeith Stanfield voices Thomas’ series hero Yasuke, an actual character who, in this fictional story, is acquired in the 16th century from a Western trader by Lord Nobunaga (Takehiro Hira), who aims to unite all of Japan under his rule. This vision includes breaking away from tradition by training both Yasuke and the female soldier Natsumaru (Ming-Na Wen) as samurai – a decision that does not suit their teacher, Mitsuhide, who views Nobunaga’s plan as one. violation of the sacred heritage of Japan. This context is fleshed out in flashbacks that dot the first few episodes, as well as in the opening sequence, which depicts a full-scale skirmish involving blaster-shooting mechs, a trio of wizards with the ability to conjure magical web shields. , and the Dark General, whose forces triumph over those of Nobunaga, thus forcing the vanquished Lord to have his faithful right-hand man Yasuke killed. Netflix’s “ Sexify ” is a wild and fun exploration of female orgasm Yasuke is a perpetual outcast thanks to his skin color, so that on a first meeting with Nobunaga, the Lord (who never saw a black man) tries to have Yasuke’s black complexion cleaned up. Two decades later, the samurai lives in a remote village known as the ‘Black Boatsman’, spending his days transporting the locals and reluctantly training young Ichiro (Jan Chen) to be a warrior – at least, when he don’t drown your sorrows in alcohol at the bar. Yasuke prefers to be alone and miserable, wallowing in his alienation and shame at having killed his beloved master. Nonetheless, a reclusive existence is not in the cards; Yasuke is forced to babysit when singer Ichika hires him to transport her sick daughter Saki (Maya Tanida) to a doctor to treat her mysterious illness – a mission that turns out to be more complicated and perilous than it initially seemed. On a frozen river, Yasuke, Ichika and Saki are attacked by a gang of mercenaries which includes Russian werewolf Nikita, African shaman Achoja (William Christopher Stephens) and a bizarre and wisecracking robot. In the ensuing conflict, Ichika perishes, leaving Yasuke to take responsibility for Saki’s safe passage to his doctor. It doesn’t take long before this quest takes on additional meaning for the samurai, given that Ichika’s necklace pendant is the same one that Natsumaru wore years earlier, and the man Saki seeks help from. is actually another figure from Yasuke’s past. Moreover, Saki herself is anything but ordinary; rather, she is a girl with enormous (albeit still untapped) magical powers. Thus, Yasuke gradually reveals the greater importance of his hero’s enterprise, wavering by then with a fluidity that keeps the action lively and surprises constant. Yasuke’s status as an outsider remains in the foreground. throughout the ensuing adventure, which allows him to protect Saki. against not only the aforementioned bandits, but also their employer, a zealous priest with mutant gifts and a taste for torture. Yasuke also has to face off against towering warriors with supernatural abilities from Daimyo (Amy Hill), an ancient creature who is believed to be a witch with tendrils extending from every part of her body. As it eventually becomes clear, Daimyo covets Saki because the girl’s powers will grant her another century of life and allow her to spread her darkness to every corner of Japan. Yasuke has none of that, however, given that he soon develops a fatherly bond with Saki – though his formidable skills often end up saving him from mortal danger. eclectic formal design in tune with its broader themes. The animation of MAPPA studios is colorful, vibrant and dynamic; there is a quick sharpness in the conflicting movements of the characters and a lyrical triumph for the series’ most extravagant magical moments and detours to the astral plane. Even better, the Tangerine Dream-ish score by Flying Lotus, which combines ethereal electronic horns and jazzy horns with Japanese instruments and melodies in a way that feels at home for a multicultural story that synthesizes the old and the new. Accompanied by Thundercat, the Flying Lotus soundtrack is one of Yasuke’s highlights, creating surprisingly romantic and somber moods for a fable often drenched in crimson blood, as director Thomas punctuates the confrontations with brutal beheadings, eviscerations and bodies literally split in half— Stanfield’s vocal performance has a somber gravity that underscores Yasuke’s isolated condition, which slowly melts as he bonds with a variety of characters who are more like him than their appearances. suggest. Yasuke is an age-old tale of an outcast finding love, family, and community through his dedication to righteous ideals and unwavering courage and sacrifice in the face of towering threats. At just six installments, it feels a bit rushed at times, and there’s a tendency for interesting characters to be introduced and then fatally sent in one episode. Still, such a brevity is also a plus, as it minimizes heavy commentary and keeps you focused on the beautiful visuals of the proceedings, which come off the screen and, during the climax, turn into a beautifully abstract. mind-blowing that is in harmony with the themes of the resurrection and the transformation of the scenario. A standalone affair that’s set for future episodes – think alternate reality Zatoichi – Yasuke is a sci-fi samurai saga that proves the value of diversity in a conventional setting. Both familiar and novel, it remixes disparate parts into a cohesive whole, bringing a new twist to the archetypal samurai hero. Not to mention, when it comes to fighting business, it kills squarely. Read more on The Daily Beast. Get our best stories delivered to your inbox every day. Register now! 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