‘Yasuke’ Review: An ancient samurai kicks back from the past

A partial list of wonders in the Netflix samurai anime series “Yasuke” includes a magician. A transformed wife, a duel on an astral plane, and a giant robot in feudal Japan. The novelty that strikes her character the most is a black man who speaks Japanese.

Yasuke (Lakite Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah”) is an actual African figure. Who served under Shogun Nobunaga Oda (Takehiro Hira). In the 16th century and approached the unification of Japan under his rule. (When they first met, Nobunaga agreed that should cover up the man’s skin colour.)

“Yasuke”, whose first six episodes will be released on Thursday:

It is loosely based on the protagonist’s story. (Very loosely based; refers you back to giant robots.) But if you’re expecting this quiet historical drama. This creative genre chaos by LeSean Thomas (“Cannon Busters”) offers fewer and more views.

After the initial battle sequence – magic and laser-assisted version of the actual battle from 1582. In which Nobunaga was betrayed by one of his officers – Yasuke leaps forward 20 years. A former samurai, whose master died and his struggles defeated. It is now a nameless ronin in a small riverside village. Where he spends his days alone on a fishing boat or at the bottom of a bottle. “Real soldiers pray especially for peace,” he said and shot a boy. From the area who asked him to practice a sword.

Yasuke made many leaps and bounds, both between decades and between regimes. In his youth, the protagonist comes to Japan. When a servant of a merchant joins Nobunaga’s service and is attacked. By activists who see the appearance of an outsider like him as a betrayal of their culture. She is now being awakened from retirement. As all retired swordsmen need to be awakened – by her cross-country colleague Saki (Maya Tanida). A country girl whose mystical powers are growing. It can free a terrorized country if they don’t kill her first.

The journey features several colourful criminals. Including the magical western priest (Dan Donohue) and the quasi-arachnid daimyo (the insanely evil Amy’s Hill). But in the past and present, Yasuke has also struggled with forces. It is hostile to him as a foreigner and with a history of loss and betrayal.

Stanfield, an actor whose strength lies in his reserves:

He skillfully modulates himself between the idealistic young samurai and the stubborn and persistent older man. (Supporting cast includes Ming-Na Wen as a female samurai. With external ties to Yasuke and Darren Chris. As a robot mercenary with a heart or at least a gold CPU.)

However, Yasuke’s the real star is his visual and acoustic landscape. The fight scenes are bloody, but the animation from the MAPPA studio. It has a lonely beauty that matches the main character’s temperament. And all this is delivered by the sparkling jazz-influenced. By the electronics output of Flying Lotus. Who is also an executive producer? (Her frequent collaborator, Thundercat, sings the haunted opening theme, “Black Gold.”) In the short animation season. Vibrations count for many things, and it’s an afterlife befitting the fairy tale. Of an African immigrant in Japan, played by a black American Creator.

But I have to go back to magic and robots. An action-adventure at heart:

“Yasuke” feels fast-paced and packed in a compelling urge to twist genre elements and mythology into six half-hour episodes. Is this the story of an outsider in a solid national culture? Explore the character of a warrior with scars from battle and overcome his regrets? A mystical epic about an anointed child fighting the greatest evil?

All of this happens with several rest episodes, the parts of which may have coexisted and supported each other. Yasuke’s calmer. Newer aspects are drowned out by his stronger, less distinctive storyline. There is seemingly to be a lot of untapped potential in the protagonist’s story or in the alternative story, which he doesn’t realize. Leading him to the relatively conventional magical story about children fighting crime.

Yet, there are many things you can see and hear and love in this story. The ballet swordsmanship, hallucinatory visions of psychic struggles. The more subtle wrestling between competing concepts of honour. By filling in the gaps in the story, Yasuke has created an interesting character. Even if you can stop him by getting to know him better.