Jan 19, 2017
Romantic18 (All reviews)
Want a very stylized, mindless hack-and-slash gorefest of an anime? Look no further than Spike TV and their 2007 production of Afro Samurai.

This anime is a mixed bag depending on how you approach it (as can be seen just by briefly looking through the reviews on here). If you are seeking a deep story and complex characters, this anime is going to disappoint you royally. However, if you are looking for an action-packed product to get the man juices flowing, Afro Samurai will look like the best piece of animation you have ever witnessed.

As stated, the story is about as basic as it gets: Boy's father is killed, boy vows revenge, boy trains up, boy kills his way to his father's get the drift. As it is only a five-episode miniseries, you can't expect much in the form of deep subplots or a vast network of strongly developed characters (though that is not to say that this franchise doesn't have its own collection of lore to read into). The timeline of the story very flatley sees Afro cut down a challenge and proceed to the next opponent (usually stronger and more intimidating in scale than the last) until he ultimately reaches his "final boss on the top floor".

The animation and art is where this show really shines. It is extremely fluid and the darker tones of the anime really come out in its shading and dreary hues. As it was made for an American audience first and foremost, it is a very "western" piece of Japanese animation, causing it to be quite unique in the library. The piece definitely stands out in comparison to most other family members of the typical action anime genre.

This show is exclusively in Dub and with its voice cast roster, it is clear why. It features many dynamic actors who bring their chops to the table in all the right ways. Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Die Hard 3) stars as Afro Samurai and his internal voice Ninja Ninja, Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy) provides the voice of the series' main antagonist Justice, and the likes of Kelly Hu (X2), Terrence C. Carson (God of War), Tara Strong, James Arnold Taylor, Grey DeLisle, and Steve Blum provide various supporting roles throughout the series along the way (large and small).

The characters of the series, though simple, are pretty solid and serve their purpose well. Afro Samurai himself is obviously the most developed character and receives the lion's share of the treatment on progression. Ironically, Afro himself is a fairly silent and stoic character and Jackson ultimately gets to shine through the almost-constant annoying chatter dialogue of his companion Ninja Ninja (Afro's 180° degree antithesis) more so than the actual protagonist. Besides the main character, the side characters do not see a lot of development and can suffer from a lack of depth if one decides to fixate on it (aka. shallow archetypes such as generic love interest character, typical villain posse, best friend, former master/mentor, etc.).

Your enjoyment of this show will depend on your desire to see, a LOT of blood (Arms flying, decapitation, pierced eye sockets....the works). This anime is all about violence and you won't go over three minutes without seeing a character spill their bowels on the ground in some shape or form. Besides that, this anime doesn't hold back on cursing and swearing either (definitely more so if you watch the Director's Cut). The anime also contains a smattering of nudity throughout the first few episodes and a full sex scene in the second (The miniseries has a solid and deserved TV-MA, so you shouldn't be blind if you are considering a watch to begin with.). All in all, Afro Samurai is a mindlessly fun anime full of stylized gory action. It's really that simple. It's "nothing personal, it's just revenge."