Funimation Flashback: A Look Back at Afro Samurai

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By Cheyenne Ewulu

Look! Another samurai anime! Yeah, that’s right. And I am not ashamed. Because this time around, we’re doing it for the culture.

Welcome back, anime fans! Get ready for another episode of Funimation Flashback, the video series where I, Cheyenne, revisit some of my favorite anime titles from my childhood!

So that means anime from the late ’90s through the early ’00s! But before we jump into today’s topic, be sure to follow Funimation everywhere for more anime content like this! I’m not gonna tell you again.

Now, you know we had to do it to ’em. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about one of the most iconic samurai anime of all time. Yeah, I said it. The man, the myth, the legend…Afro Samurai. I love how that name just rolls off your tongue. Afro Samurai. I’ve been waiting a long time to talk about this one.

Afro Samurai

I’m just gonna get into it—sorry but NOT sorry. This anime is and will forever be THE most unapologetically Black anime you will ever lay your sweet eyes on. Period. It really needs no introduction.

The series follows the life of a young Afro Samurai who had the misfortune of seeing his father, the OG Afro Samurai, be beheaded and stripped of his Number 1 title. Now, the current Afro Samurai is on a journey to find the new Number 1 and avenge his father. That description alone? Fire.

Man, there are a MILLION reasons why you should be giving this show another watch. First of all, we hadn’t seen anything like it back then and still have yet to see another piece of work like it in the anime world to this day. The artwork alone draws influences from tons of different genres.

The fusion of different cultures like Japanese and Black culture is something that we as anime fans have sort of started to see more and more of following the debut of anime like Shinichiro Watanabe’s Samurai Champloo in 2005; however, no anime has yet to do it on the level of Afro Samurai. The original creator, Takashi Okazaki-san, definitely let his love for hip-hop culture be known with this series. (Anime and hip-hop? My two favorite things. Say less.)

You thought the awesomeness stopped there? Nope. Let’s talk about the voice cast. The English dub voice cast consists of showstopping icons like Lucy Liu, Phil LaMarr, Mark Hamill and the one and only…Samuel L. Jackson! Mr. Jackson also helped co-produce the series. That last blow alone should be enough to make you stop reading now and go rewatch this masterpiece. Do I even need to go on? Probably not. But for the sake of time, I will.

Afro Samurai

Let’s get more into the music. The music in this animation is one of a kind. Specifically, because it was curated by the one and only Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA. RZA? In MY anime? It’s more likely than you think. The soundtrack features tons of notable names in the hip-hop community and is one that you definitely do not want to sleep on if you’re a fan of the genre. I mean, if there was an anime that was truly for the culture, it’s Afro Samurai.

Now, chances are you were pretty young when this anime came out, and as dope as it was, you really had no business watching it at your age because of all the violence. Don’t worry, I won’t tell Mom. So I am encouraging you, looking at you in your now-adult eyes, to give this iconic show another watch. Because I promise you, it hits a lot different when you’re older.

You’ll appreciate a lot of the bigger moments more. I know I did. I mean, at least give it a rewatch just for Ninja Ninja alone. And guess what? You already know what I’m going to say. Yes! All episodes are available on the what? The Funimation app. Including the movie.

Oh, you didn’t know there was a movie? Stop sleeping on Afro Samurai and go watch it! That concludes this entry of Funimation Flashback! If you haven’t already, be sure to follow Funimation on all of their social media for more anime goodness, and I’ll see you all on the next one.

UP NEXT: How a Dub From Home Gets Made


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