Film and TV

The first season of ‘Yasuke’ is not the end for the Black Samurai

Following an acclaimed first season of Netflix original anime Yasuke, composer Flying Lotus has declared the Black Samurai will return.

With the first season of Yasuke under his belt, Flying Lotus has not only established himself as one of the most interesting musicians of our generation, but a legendary jack of all trades.

We’ve seen him rap as Captain Murphy, we’ve seen him provide score for Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe on a promotional piece for Blade Runner 2049, and we’ve seen him debut his film career in 2017 with the disgustingly disturbed Kuso. So while it’s not a surprise that FlyLo made the jump to creating his own anime, it’s still amazing that he actually did it.

Produced by MAPPA – the studio behind some of 2020’s biggest anime events (JuJutsu Kaisen, Shingeki No Kyojin’s “Final” SeasonYasuke embellishes the story of the ‘Black Samurai’, a very real figure in feudal Japanese history who served as a swordsman under Oda Nobunaga.

That’s about as much historical influence as it takes however, as we’re almost instantly dropped into a world of sentient robots, demons, cultist magicians, laser-shooting monks, and gargantuan mechs. It’s balls to the wall in its presentation and is backed very strongly by the badass accompanying score that Flying Lotus wrote himself.

The whole production is a great collaborative effort, with direction from LeSean Thomas of Adult Swim’s Black Dynamite and The Boondocks, vocal performances from Lakeith Stanfield, and soundtrack features from Denzel Curry, Thundercat and Niki Randa. And for a six-episode run, it’s not a bad watch.

But this is also the first venture that this American team has taken into crafting their own anime and as a result, it does hit a couple of spikes in the road. The English dub features a pretty flat and underdone performance from Stanfield, the overall story does lack some depth, and a couple of the characters seem more trope-y than fleshed out.

As a jumping-off point, it’s a great proof of concept for a larger series, and according to Flying Lotus on Twitter, there are plans for future arcs.

For such a well developed and rich story world, it will be interesting to see just how the team tap into the potential that Yasuke has to offer. In its most enthralling moments, it’s a heartfelt, gritty, and super-charged spectacle to be witnessed, and we’re excited to see more of this series.

The first season of Yasuke can be watched on Netflix.