By: Isatou Ndure
To even begin to think that there was a Black Samurai who served under the Japanese hegemon and warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1581 and 1582 is crazy to me. And yes, as you can tell I am thrilled.
I only learned of Yasuke a year ago and to now hear that there will be an animated series based on him is exciting.
Netflix announced the series a few months back and it is to be produced by actor, Lakeith Stanfield of Get Out and Atlanta and co-directed by the artistic legend, LeSean Thomas. A producer, author, animator, director, and comic, he is the brains behind an assortment of extraordinary shows like The Legend of Korra and The Boondocks.
With these two innovative powerhouses behind the anime, I have very high expectations.
Set in a fictionalized version of Japan overflowing with mechs and magic, Yasuke follows the African warrior as he tries to settle down after a lifetime of battle, to then be tossed back into combat when a nearby town becomes the epicenter of warring Daimyo and he is entrusted with transporting a peculiar child who’s earmarked by evil forces.
Be that as it may, whilst Yasuke’s version of Japan is fabricated, the lead character isn’t. Yasuke was a real person with an interesting life story and although there is a lack of a record of his early life, I am certain that he did not need magic to spice it up.
What we do know is that in 1579, Yasuke arrived in Japan from what is now South Sudan, as a slave of Alessandro Valignano, a Jesuit missionary and crowds gathered to see the 6ft tall, ink colored warrior as described by warlord Oda Nobunaga who demanded Yasuke to wash his skin to remove the ink and when he learned that was not possible, he took an interest to the warrior and they created a true bond as time passed. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a trained Samurai.
Much of Yasuke’s history comes to a halt after the suicide of Nobunaga resulting in the betrayal of Akechi Mitsuhide, his general. The first Black Samurai’s legacy still lives on and hopefully, this anime adaption will strengthen it as more people learn about the legend that is Yasuke and I for sure will be keeping up with this one.