Afro Samurai

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roriconfan's avatar By roriconfan on Dec 26, 2011

THE STAFF 
GONZO is one of the worst anime studios in existence and Afro Samurai is yet another example of that. It even ruins the minds of the people it employs; just look what happened to poor Kizaki Fuminori. His first work was the rather good Basilisk. Instead of improving, GONZO turned his brain to mash potatoes and afterwards he directed this lame Afro Samurai anime, while later on the complete flop X-Men anime. DAMN YOU GONZO! But enough with that; let’s now talk about the anime and how horrible it is even if we don’t know it was GONZO who made it.

SCRIPT 
[Where have I heard that one before?] 

A black samurai (!) wants to revenge his father’s killer, the holder of the No.1 headband. Because he is wearing the No.2 headband, he is targeted by all those who want to make a name for themselves… That’s it.

For starters, an action-based series with revenge being the only excuse for the plot is not original nor it is smart. The series doesn’t try to go any further than that, leaving all characters with a depth in personality that even toadpoles would find hard to live in. 

CAST 
[All show and no meaning] 

- Afro is another cool heavy-dude, ultra-powerful no matter what his opponent may be. He talks too little and doesn’t care about anyone else other than himself. He never tries to reason with someone and simply solves all his problems with brainless violence. He doesn’t care about anything else, other than revenge, making him distant and hard to believe that someone can actually spend his life like that (is this even called life?). 

- There is a sexy woman in the story, supposed to soften his heart. She is there to show him that happiness doesn’t evolve killing a dozen people every day. But all her presence is wasted on that brainless Afro and in reality she’s just there for fan service. 

- There is this funny imaginary guy that follows Afro everywhere. In a way, he is Afro’s inner voice of reason, and is supposed to question his motives of revenge. Again, his words are also wasted on “I don’t care what you say” Afro and becomes just the comic relief in the story. 

- The bad guys are typical insane megalomaniacs that engage with an obviously superior opponent but are too stupid to realize that they can’t win. The only thing they care about is wasting their lives on becoming the No.2 in the world. Why? So murderers like themselves will target them for the rest of their lives. What the hell are they thinking? They can be much better by being just Afro’s famous lap dogs. 

What is there to praise about the characters? The cool way they fight? That’s not personality, nor character development. Personally, I have left behind any respect I had about muscular/shallow heavy-dudes. No matter how awesome they fight, if they don’t have a descent backdrop story or personality, they are like the drone characters of every MMORPG: Cool to look at but without a hint of reasoning behind anything they do (pressing a button is hardly called a reasoning). 

But you know what? I bet the GONZO retards thought that all it mattered was to have some famous dude giving his voice to one of the characters. And thus we have Samuel Jackson voicing the main hero. There you go, half the people ran to watch this just to hear his cool voice. And that is as far as good personalities went. 

PRODUCTION VALUES 
[Brainlessly good] 

The artwork is weird. Rough edges and as black palette colors as the samurai’s race. It was hard to get used to it but then again I prefer this sort of drawings to those so-cute-that-you-want-to-puke Air or Kanon artwork. So, I won’t say they are bad but rather they are “alternative”. More reminiscent of dark-themed American graphic novels than anime; it’s up to your personal tastes if you like them or not.

Action scenes are the whole focus. Animation and sound effects are greatly detailed and flashy but also hardly realistic. Again, it’s your tastes that will decide if you find them to be cool (it’s high-octane action!) or fake (it’s a brainless slug-fest). If realism is set aside, you get to see some of the best fighting a series can offer. 

Villains with cool gadgets and an insane look will engage the grimace-less Afro in faster-than-sound speeds. The speed of the battles is extremely high and has no intervals(like in typical shounen). 

There is apparently a lot of air in the world of the series, as a breeze seems to run through everything and makes headbands, coats and hats to flap endlessly. This gives a non-stop movement to even stale images. You could even say that the breeze is in fact the strength of the characters’ resolve and lust for power! … Or just hot air coming out of those airheads… Whatever it is, it makes everyone a lot cooler and imposing.

The “air effect” also causes a lot of dust. As an optical trick, every action lifts considerable amounts of dust, giving the feeling that the characters are not fighting in a stale image, called the background. It also helps to hide the outcome of every attack … and the mistakes in the animation of the action’s reaction. It makes the battles much more interesting but also more confusing as many moves are hidden and leave you to imagine what happened.

Swords versus rocket launchers and laser guns may sound ridiculous to compare but then again Hollywood is famous just for being extravagant. And this series sure tries to follow Hollywood’s footsteps. 

Music themes are African American-oriented and appeal mostly to people that are accustomed to them (the rest of us are used to hearing J-pop). Personal tastes decide yet again. But they sure do fit with a story that has a black man as a protagonist. Being a combination of rap and techno, there is a lot of strength (and beat!) present to the point of reminding you all those AMVs some make with action clips from anime while awesome music themes play in the background. I still think that Rock and its variations is the best kind of music for battle themes. African American music is about fighting the system and describing the cruel society of the Ghettos black people were left to live; a theme not present in the series. So, it’s not that fitting with the action and becomes another thing that only those accustomed with it will appreciate. 

But to heck with whatever I said about the music so far; most people will only care about the hero being voiced by Samuel f-ing Jackson himself. And he is cursing, and killing, and doing stuff. And that’s pretty much all there is to it. 

LEGACY 
Ever heard of another black samurai? How many series with so well made action scenes are there? These are the good parts that stand out. How many myriad series/movies with heavy-dudes bound on revenge have you seen? This is the bad part that ruins most of the replay value. Meh, besides the quality action scenes, you get a hollow cast and a pitiful story. In other words, a typical GONZO show.

P.S. This series reminded me of the song Dust In The Wind, performed by Kansas. It is full of dust and air. And it dissolves with the slightest wind before other good Samurai series. 

SUGGESTION LIST 
Samurai Seven
Samurai Champloo
Sword of the Stranger 

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 8/10 
General Artwork 2/2 (well-done)
Character Figures 1/2 (weird looking; they stand out but non in a particular positive way)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 2/2 (fluent although it has its problems with the wind and stuff)
Visual Effects 2/2 (basic) 

SOUND SECTION: 8/10 
Voice Acting 3/3 (Samuel f-ing Jackson’s voice is in it)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series) 
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)

STORY SECTION: 3/10 
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 0/2 (zero)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)

CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10 
Presence 1/2 (cool in a blunt way)
Personality 0/2 (cheesy and barely founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (none)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 3/10 
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because there is very little to see in it)
Memorability 2/4 (Samuel f-ing Jackson offers some reason to remember it but that is all)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10 
Art 1/1 (looks cool) 
Sound 1/2 (cool songs, stupid dialogues)
Story 1/3 (generic as hell)
Characters 2/4 (cool but shallow)

VERDICT: 5/10

3/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
3/10 characters
5/10 overall
fosmic's avatar By fosmic on Oct 29, 2009

afro samurai is a world where you cant survive without being a killer.

Theres on goal in life and thats to become the number one and to do that you have to become the number 2 and go all the way up a mountain while fighting through loads of people trying to do the same thing your doing beat the number 1.

If i was him i would have died of old age before someone actually challenged me id be what the heck took you so long ive been sitting on this friggin mountain for years and now you expect me to fight you

i mean the storys all well and good but this is just redicolous but the comedy makes up for it and its neo-fuedal japan style but the way people talk brings it to a mix between samurai ghetto

6/10 story
8.5/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
9/10 characters
7/10 overall
Fullmetalgeass's avatar By Fullmetalgeass on Dec 14, 2009

STORY: 7/10

Basic story structure per episode- Afro Samurai walks through a wonderfully drawn landscape completely ignoring his also afroed cohort who is ranting on and on about some random subject that the viewer cares just about as much as the Afro himself. About 50 people show up out of the blue and Afro predictably slashes through these 50 people. Body parts and other random sh*t flies into midair along with enough blood to fit Gluttony from FMA [the manga]'s stomach. Then a touchy flash back comes on the screen. Lastly, the big warrior dude comes on the screen to challenge Afro. As they fight, the sidekick rants on and on again, saying stuff like, "Yo, Afro! Be careful, man!" or "This guys one bad motherf*cker", and of course, "He's got a gun! A gun!". So, each of these parts have there great moments and not so good. Action scenes are exciting, if a little confusing because of weird camera angle or lighting, or a bit unrealistic because many characters should have died but didn't. i.e. Gino, Afro, and #1. I mean who gets their limbs chopped off, their head lobbed off, and their entire chest completely cut wide open and f*cking lives?! I mean, as long as you put a giant teddy bear over your head, you'll be all right with those few missing limbs! Flashbacks provide nice backstory. But overall, the story is a little too simple, stupid, and cliched. But I stand by with my 7/10 because of touching flashbacks and exciting action scenes.

Animation: 9.5/10

Beautiful landscapes, wonderfully flowing hair and headbands, and gorgeously animated action scenes await in this feast for your eyes.

Sound: 7/10

Opening is rather boring. Ending is more boring. While the background music was decent hip-hop, it felt very held-back and almost half-assed beats.

Characters: 6/10

While some characters were relatable like Gino, I felt others like Afro Samurai were just un-relatable assholes driven by revenge. Also, the villains like #1 (not including Gino) had absolutely nothing else to there character other than "they are the bad guys". I really wish I knew more about #1 and why he won't f*cking die!

Overall: 6.5/10

If you had a long day at work and you want to watch some heads fly off their bodies, go ahead and watch this. Also, since this is only 5 episodes, you might as well come and stay for the kicks. But if you're looking for something deeper, skip over this one.

Here's some pics :)

7/10 story
9.5/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
EBunny13's avatar By EBunny13 on Apr 16, 2010

THE STORY:

The Afro Samurai series is action packed to the brim!  So much so that it’s story line seems to be a bit stifled. I watched it all in one go, as I’m sure many have, since the five episodes flow more like a movie than your traditional series. Like in many movies, I was watching our hero enter odds far against him, and him coming out unscathed, which gets old, fast.  Afro enters a plethora of engagements with enemies pouring out of every corner, like a bad termite infestation, and Afro is the last scrap of wood. To be honest, when Afro was having a hard time with things, I found myself to be far more entertained than with the surrounding dominance and genocide that the series offers.  Story is a must for me and in Afro Samurai I found myself following another revenge plot.  To break it down: Someone our main character loves dies.  He fights to avenge them.  That’s it.

Alright Afro Samurai fan club, I’m sure I’ve got you all gunning for me at this point but before you pull the trigger hear me out.  Incredibly over-used, the loved-one revenge plot in Afro Samurai was well executed, and I will not be the first or last to admit being entertained by the series.

THE ANIMATION:

Afro Samurai embodies the pure action, lust, and gore to satiate all masculine viewing pleasures. From the beginning I found myself absolutely fixed on the brutality and fluid motion action that it had to offer.  Every blow glistens with excruciating precision. There are few anime that can stun with visuals as clear and flamboyant as this one does.  I still enjoy showing this series to friends simply because it is a filling course to sate any animation hunger. The dark bland scenery contrasted in a sort of Sin City style with the red blood, the sunset backgrounds, and the fiery explosions.  Visual captivation is one of the few things (aside from the incredibly short length of the series) that kept me going through it. Also I hate leaving anything unfinished! :)

SOUND:

What to say?  The smooth beats that occur throughout the show accent the visual style in a very complimentary fashion although I must admit getting a bit bored of it after a short time.  In some series the repetitive sound structures work for the series. Afro Samurai's, in my opinion, did not do so very well, but in all reality I'm more of a video-phile than audio-phile per se.  As such my criticism here is probably not to be taken with great validity.  The sound wasn't a total loss though when moving from music to the shear effects.  Every single cutting blow can be felt within the nice bass that the sub-woofer sends vibrating throughout the room. Throw in the shrill treble of slicing flesh and it makes for one amazing sound fest.

CHARACTERS:

Finally we come to the next thing that allowed me to grin and bear it all, the characters. I fell in love with Samuel L. Jackson’s work behind the character Afro and adore the quiet, powerful, badass that Afro is as the main protagonist. Afro’s imaginary friend, Ninja Ninja, is a great break in the tension, always voicing the thoughts, insecurities, and over-confidences that Afro is having before, during, and after each intense fight.  Ninja Ninja brings the series’ dark mood out to catch some sunlight and shed’s some of the encumbering baggage that accumulates with each fight. I’m sure many are waiting for the mentioning of Justice, and Justice will indeed be served!  Ron Perlman voices our main antagonist Justice, and he does this incredibly well.  Justice, twisted as he is, is my favorite character in this series simply because of the great voice behind him.  When I catch Ron's vocal talents behind characters in any series, I find myself liking them more and more at an exponential rate. Ron was certainly an unforeseen treat and I was very excited to hear him.

OVERALL:

As for myself, I don’t like the series enough to pay good money on it, but I still HIGHLY recommend it.  It is a great watch if for nothing but the characters and visuals, and I don’t think anyone will be thoroughly disappointed.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
8/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
SeiyaManG's avatar By SeiyaManG on Oct 30, 2009

Afro Samurai is a very solid show. It's got all the combinations for success and yet sometimes it still manages to be a bit boring. Which is why it didn't score higher for me.

The Story gets an 8 for being somewhat original, it definitley takes the idea of the Ronin seeking revenge and gives it's own stylistic flares.

Animation gets a 9 because Afro really does look pretty. It always sticks to a pallete of very dark, vivid and saturated colors to give it that rough edge the show definitely goes for.

The Sound gets a 9 because this show is not only voiced by a great actor (i.e. Samuel L. Jackson) but it also contains beats by The RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. Put those 2 together and it's pretty much as good as it gets.

The Characters only get a 7 not because they didn't have much depth, it was because despite the attempts to make the characters round a lot of them were just unlikeable or very very uninteresting. Afro himself doesn't really say much, but that is made up by his ghostly alter ego who is always filling the conversational void.

Overall I really like watching this show and would recommend highly for anybody to watch.

8.5/10

8/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
7/10 characters
8.5/10 overall