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Afro+headband

Afro Samurai tries to blend American westerns with Japanese samurai mythos and a tale of revenge. The series looks good, it does after all have quite a budget (as having Samuel L. Jackson voicing the protagonist proves), but I felt it lacked depth. The series is comparatively short with only six episodes but I felt there was not enough content, even for such a small amount.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the part of Afro Samurai, a man looking to avenge his father. In the center of the story is a contest for the strongest warrior of them all, called Number 1. The one who owns the title can only be challenged by Number 2, who anyone can try to kill. Both Number 1 and 2 are required to wear headbands signifying their status. In the beginning Afro Samurai’s father, who holds the title of Number 1, is challenged and killed by a mysterious Number 2. The tale of Afro Samurai is the age old one of revenge. When it comes to plot you can expect no surprises.

Screenshot Studio capture #158

The style of Afro Samurai is very dark, almost completely black and white with occasional colors, especially in flashbacks from Afro’s youth. I found the bleakness of the animation and the purposefully ugly characters tiring. This may have something to do with Afro’s character as well. He hardly speaks at all, letting his companion do all the talking for him.

Samuel L. Jackson does a good job voicing Afro’s friend. The way he does it purposefully way over the top, which is sadly the case for the rest of the characters as well. For some reason almost everyone overacts in Afro Samurai. Especially some of the old men had me annoyed, mostly because they didn’t sound convincing. This might be something to do with how the characters have been written. Most of them are very flat and one-sided. None of them had my sympathy at any point, I just could not come to care about what happens to Afro or his friend.

As a good side, the action scenes are occasionally fun to watch. But the weakness of the characters and the clicheyed plot dropped the impact of the action as well. In the end I was happy the series only lasted for six episodes, and even they contained a lot of filler that didn’t really have anything to do with the plot. For me Afro Samurai felt like a trail of drudgery.

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