Premiering this Thursday, April 29, Netflix has released the official trailer for Yasuke, the anime telling the true story of one of the few, if not only, Black men to hold the rank of samurai. Well, mostly true, besides the magic and giant robots stomping about 16th century Japan.
Developed by Studio MAPPA (Attack on Titan) and under the direction of LeSean Thomas (Black Dynamite, The Legend of Korra), the series features LaKeith Stanfield in the title role, as Yasuke braves a shadowy Sengoku Era Japan filled with all sorts of sorcery and snares. Like the real Yasuke, our bloodletting warrior served under Japanese war lord Oda Nobunaga before turning to life as a drifter, surviving on the fringes of society as a feared curiosity among the Japanese elite. Caught up in a feud over a magical child with dark magic and conniving generals, Yasuke takes up arms to fight the good fight. “Just when I thought I was out…”
With a score by the iconic Flying Lotus and more action than you can shake an odachi at, Yasuke will likely find its audience with the familiar sword and sorcery anime tropes, but also its basis in the fascinating history of its main character. The depiction of Black characters in anime is a fascinating and sometimes-problematic field, though that portrayal would seem to stem largely from basis in African American culture. The real Yasuke arrived from Mozambique, it’s believed, by way of Portugeuse missionaries, eventually working his way into the service of Oda Nobunaga, achieving rank as one of his retainers.
The story of Yasuke is one being pined by multiple projects, including a film adaptation that, at a time, was set to star the late Chadwick Boseman. Wherever other projects may be in development, Netflix’s anime looks to be a solid leaping off point for those interested in the man’s story. At the very least, it should be a bloody good time when it hits the service this week, on April 29th.