Volume one of the Afro Samurai manga remake, first released in America by Tor Books and Seven Seas Entertainment.
|Genre||Chanbara, science fantasy, avant-garde, black comedy, comedy-drama|
|Written by||Takashi Okazaki|
|Published by||Self-funded dōjinshi|
|English publisher||Seven Seas Entertainment NA|
|Magazine||Nou Nou Hau (dōjinshi)|
|Original run||September 1999 – May 2000|
|Volumes||1 JP, 2 NA|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Fuminori Kizaki
|Written by||Tomohiro Yamashita
|Licensed by||Funimation Entertainment NA
Madman Entertainment AUS
|English network||Spike NA
Adult Swim/Bravo UK
|Original run||January 4, 2007 – February 1, 2007|
|Afro Samurai: Resurrection|
|Directed by||Fuminori Kizaki
|Produced by||Shin'ichiro Ishikawa
Samuel L. Jackson
|Written by||Takashi Okazaki
|Licensed by||FUNimation Entertainment NA
Madman Entertainment AUS
|Released||January 25, 2009 NA
February 3, 2009 JP
|Runtime||90 minutes NA
100 minutes JP
Afro Samurai (アフロサムライ Afuro Samurai ), also written AFRO SAMURAI, is a Japanese seinen dōjinshi manga series written and illustrated by manga artist Takashi Okazaki. It was originally serialized irregularly in the avant-garde dōjinshi manga magazine Nou Nou Hau from September 1999 to May 2000. Inspired by Takashi Okazaki's love of soul and hip hop music and American media, Afro Samurai follows the life of Afro Samurai who witnessed his father (owner of the No. 1 headband) being killed by a gunslinger, Justice (owner of the No. 2 headband) while he was a child. As an adult, Afro sets off to avenge his father's death and kill Justice.
The Afro Samurai dōjinshi was adapted into a 5-episode anime TV mini-series by studio Gonzo in 2007. The same studio also went on to produce a made-for-TV movie sequel entitled Afro Samurai: Resurrection in 2009, which gained two Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation, which it won, and Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More).
After the release of the anime series, Takashi Okazaki remade the original Afro Samurai dōjinshi into a two-volume manga. To be only released in North America, Tor Books and Seven Seas Entertainment licensed the title and published it under their new Tor/Seven Seas imprint.
In addition to the success of the anime series, Afro Samurai has also been adapted into a video game and an upcoming live-action feature film. For the TV series and the film, two soundtracks by the RZA of Wu-Tang Clan have been released as well as a profile book in Japan.
Afro Samurai 
In a futuristic yet feudal Japan, it is said that the one who wields the Number 1 headband is the fiercest fighter in the world and shall possess god-like powers. The only way to obtain the Number 1 headband is to challenge the current wearer of the headband and defeat him in combat. However, only the Number 2 can challenge the Number 1 while anyone can challenge the Number 2 which causes a constant struggle for the Number 2 headband.
Justice, the owner of the No. 2 headband, goes to fight the owner of the No. 1 headband Rokutaro (Afro's father). The two battle, ending with Justice beheading Afro's father and claiming his headband. His head rolls in front of his son Afro as he sobs and vows revenge.
Now an adult, "Afro Samurai" is the current No. 2 and a master swordsman. He travels Japan trying to make his way to the mountain-top keep where Justice awaits. As he makes his way to Justice, he recalls his journey from a frightened young boy to a master samurai. Along the way, many people challenge Afro for his headband, including the "Empty Seven Clan" who send various agents including a robotic Afro to kill him throughout his travels. He is also being hunted by his vengeful childhood friend Jinno (who was long thought to be dead). It is revealed that Afro's childhood samurai master called the Sword Master became the new No. 2 after Justice killed Afro's father. When Afro confronts his master, they are both attacked by assassins leading to the death of everyone except Afro, Jinno, Atsura (Ukikio) and their master. Jinno begs Afro not to kill their own master, claiming he is selfish and he is to blame for the death of their friends. Afro defeats the master and claims the number 2 headband. Filled with rage and hatred for Afro, Jinno throws himself off a nearby cliff. Afro as an adult finally confronts Justice. Afro learns that there are other headbands in existence, ranging to an unspecified higher number, and sees that the corpses of those who wore them are skewered throughout the room where Justice awaits. Afro defeats Justice and takes the No. 1 headband, and the other headbands disappear.
Afro decides to live in the mountains once again. Jinno, adorned with every headband in existence, returns and confronts Afro for the No. 1 band and his revenge. The final scene shows Justice still alive and smiling.
Afro Samurai: Resurrection 
Afro refuses to wear the No. 1 headband as the rules require, and spends his days making wooden sculptures of people from his past instead of fighting. On a bridge after fishing, a group of people challenge him, but he easily slays all of them. One dark and stormy night, Jinno (now mindlessly taking orders) and a mysterious woman named Sio attack Afro. Jinno easily defeats him and takes the No. 1 headband for Sio and then robs his father's grave of his remains. Sio is revealed to be Jinno's sister. Sio tells Afro her plans to resurrect Afro's father Rokutaro so she can torture him as revenge against Afro for the lives he has destroyed including her brother's and her own. Sio challenges Afro to find the No. 2 headband to earn the right to challenge her. Afro, determined to recover the No. 1 headband and his father's remains, sets off to find the No. 2 headband. At "Lady's Luck Town" in a stripper/sex club, finds brothers Brother 1 (who is in a stand-up wheelchair and has a catheter) and Brother 3 and has to play a dice game against Brother 3. Brother 3 cheats and Afro finds out, threatening to kill him and eventually learns from Brother 3 that the bearer of the No. 2 headband is a man named Shichigoro.
Afro, in search of Shichigoro, coincidentally kills the kidnapper of Schichigoro's son and prompts Shichigoro to buy him a drink. They eventually fight to the death with the No. 2 headband at stake, and upon victory, Afro continues on toward Sio. Shichigoro's adopted son Kotaro (who witnessed his father's death) sobs and then vows revenge over the dead body of his father much like Afro and Justice. Along the way he is observed by three masked android warriors from his past. The warriors are revealed to be a part of Sio's original plan to overwhelm Afro in the final battle, but apparently had decided to battle Afro early in an attempt to finish him off before Sio had to dirty her hands.
Afro battles and defeats the three while Sio attempts to resurrect a mind-controlled version of Rokutaro. However, Rokutaro is revived before he is completely restored, leaving him merely a mindless, though apparently somewhat controllable, killing machine. Afro defeats the three and is soon confronted by Sio, Jinno, and Rokutaro. With Afro hesitant to fight his father, Rokutaro defeats and kills him (stops his heart from beating by strangling him). Jinno comes to Afro's aid, though pointless as Sio points out, in a sudden flash of selective memories of being a childhood friend and sparring partner with Afro. Landing only a few blows, Jinno is quickly killed by Rokutaro, who kills Sio in the same blow when she attempts to come to Jinno's aid. The cybernetic remains of Jinno give off an electrical surge which, conducted through the spilled blood of Sio, restarts Afro's heart. Afro apparently defeats Rokotaro and emerges from the scene wearing the No. 1 headband.
Afro walks away from the battle, wearing the No. 1 headband and clutching the No. 2 headband in right hand. He comes across Shichigoro's orphaned son, who had been following him, and hands him the No. 2, telling him to challenge him when he's ready. In the final scene, Takimoto meets up with a mysterious person who turns out to be Justice.
Takashi Okazaki started drawing African-American characters on items like Kleenex boxes when he was a teenager, inspired by his fondness for hip hop and soul music. He also drew ideas from American media and their depiction of Japanese culture. Takashi started combining elements of samurai into his work, eventually developing the design for Afro. Takashi Okazaki began writing the original dōjinshi, then called Afro Samurai!, when he and his friends started independently publishing the art magazine Nou Nou Hau. The preparatory "issue 0" of Nou Nou Hau was released in November 1998 with Afro Samurai artwork featured on the cover. Takashi Okazaki wrote the entire manga in the English direction, with elements from English and Japanese comics. He also used Afro Samurai for a cat food advertisement in the last pages of his manga book.
In addition to the anime production, Takashi Okazaki re-made the dōjinshi, with much better art skills. At the Japan Society from March 13 to June 14, 2009, original Afro Samurai dōjinshi artwork (as used on issue 0 of Nou Nou Hau) was showcased at the KRAZY!: The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games exhibition.
Written and illustrated by Takashi Okazaki, Afro Samurai was originally published in the self-funded Nou Nou Hau dōjinshi magazine. First appearing in issue 0, the dōjinshi version was first published from September 1999 to October 2000. After the release of the anime version, Takashi Okazaki recreated the original dōjinshi. Although the recreation of the original manga was created in Japan, it was first published in the United States by Seven Seas Entertainment and Tor Books in two tankōbon volumes. As a special supplement, thumb-nail sized clips of the original dōjinshi were shown at the end of the first volume. The English release of the manga was Tor Books and Seven Seas' first publication under the newly formed Tor/Seven Seas imprint. The manga was also released in Italy through Panini Comics' manga publishing division Planet Manga, starting on April 9, 2009. The manga was released in one volume in Japan on December 18, 2009. The limited edition came with all the issues of the original dōjinshi included in a separate volume.
|1||Nothing personal...it's just revenge.||September 2008||ISBN 978-0-7653-2123-7|
|Afro witnessed his father get killed by Justice. Afro, now with the No. 2 headband sets forth to avenge his father's death. On his way Afro encounters several foes.|
|2||Death isn't the end...it's only the beginning.||February 2009||ISBN 978-0-7653-2239-5|
One of Takashi Okazaki's friends decided to make action figures based on the character, which were released in small amounts. After the action figures were created, a producer from the Japanese studio, Gonzo, happened to find them and thought of an animated TV project based on the series. The anime took three years to develop, and in the three years the studio also created a trailer, which happened to fall into the hands of Samuel L. Jackson. It was announced that the project would be a five-episode "creative collaboration" between Samuel L. Jackson, Takashi Okazaki, and Gonzo, with a music score by hip hop artist The RZA from the rap group Wu-Tang Clan. In 2006, it was announced that Funimation Entertainment acquired the rights to the anime series which would premier on Spike TV (now simply known as "Spike") later that year, and that Samuel L. Jackson would voice Afro. Afro Samurai debuted on Spike TV, on January 4, 2007. The series' worldwide premier was on Spike TV's website where they streamed the first episode online. The anime was later released on Japanese television Thursday, May 3, 2007, in English with Japanese subtitles. The Japanese air was released completely uncut. On Friday, May 11, 2007 Funimation released the first Afro Samurai DVDs at Anime Central, at their own booth, the regular Afro Samurai: Spike Version and the uncut Afro Samurai: Director's Cut. Both DVDs were released to the public on May 22, 2007. On September 4, 2007, all five episodes of Afro Samurai were released on iTunes. To promote this, Funimation released eight custom designed iPods by Takashi Okazaki. In 2008, Funimation released the Afro Samurai anime series onto Xbox Live in high definition format and also debuted on Blu-ray Disc in that year. Also in 2008, Afro Samurai was shown at the German Film Festival in Germany.
|#||Title||Original air date|
|January 4, 2007|
|As a boy, Afro witnessed his father's death by the hands of a man looking to claim the title of No. 1. Now a grown man, he has the title of No. 2 and sets out on his journey of revenge.|
|02||"The Dream Reader"
|January 11, 2007|
|Afro relives his harsh past through his dreams when he is discovered by an old friend at a riverbank who tends to his wounds. It seems she is out for revenge as well|
|03||"The Empty Seven Clan"
"THE EMPTY SEVEN CLAN"
|January 18, 2007|
|As The Clan of the Empty Seven continues to put pressure on Afro, he must battle his deadliest foe yet, himself.|
|January 25, 2007|
|The past comes back to teach Afro a lesson about the consequences of choosing revenge over family, and what it really means to wear the No. 2 headband.|
|February 1, 2007|
|Afro battles with his childhood friend and makes his final ascension towards the number one, Justice.|
In an Associated Press interview in 2007, Takashi Okazaki confirmed there would be a sequel to the anime series, and that it would also be shown on Spike TV. In 2008, the sequel was announced to be a TV movie titled Afro Samurai: Resurrection, and that actors Lucy Liu and Mark Hamill would join the voice acting cast. Hip hop artist The RZA also came back to provide the soundtrack for the movie. Afro Samurai: Resurrection debuted on Spike TV on the night of January 25, 2009. On July 16, 2009, Afro Samurai: Resurrection was nominated for an Emmy in the "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming one hour or more)" category in the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards and the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. At the Emmy awards, Afro Samurai: Resurrection lost to Destination Imagination, a TV movie based on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. The art director of Afro Samurai: Resurrection, Shigemi Ikeda, won an Emmy for his work on Resurrection, which is the first ever awarded for work on a Japanese-animated production. Afro Samurai: Resurrection was the first Japanese anime to be nominated for and win an Emmy.
Late 2009 also saw the release of Afro Samurai: Complete Murder Sessions on Blu-Ray and DVD. A 4-disc collection of both Afro Samurai Director's Cut and Afro Samurai: Resurrection, together in one complete boxset.
Announced at the 2006 Comic-Con, a live action version of Afro Samurai was said to be in the making. On 2011-07-21, Gonzo K.K. and Indomina group announced Indomina group had obtained the rights to produce the film, with Samuel L. Jackson, Jasbinder Singh Mann (Indomina Group Vice Chairman and CEO), Shin Ishikawa (Gonzo Studios) as producers; Eli Selden of Anonymous Content as executive producer.
Video games 
In 2005, Gonzo had awarded Namco Bandai Games exclusive rights to publish two Afro Samurai video games, as announced that year. The debut trailer of the first game was released at the company's Editor's Day presentation. Afro Samurai was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 27, 2009.
Wu-Tang Clan member RZA produced the soundtrack for both the Afro Samurai TV series and the TV movie sequel Afro Samurai: Resurrection. The first soundtrack for the anime series, The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai: The Soundtrack was released on January 30, 2007 by Koch Records (now known as E1 Music). The second soundtrack for the TV movie, The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai: Resurrection: The Soundtrack was also released by Koch Records on January 27, 2009.
The Afro Samurai manga series has received generally positive reviews from critics. Scott Green, writer of the Anime AICN segment of Ain't It Cool News said that the manga "is a work of design" and that it "utilizes the medium to which it is applied as a platform rather than as an ends unto itself." Scott notes that Okazaki does not have a "head for manga as a storytelling form" and that the "manga labors to show off Okazaksi' [sic] design." Anime News Network reviewer, Carlo Santos stated about the anime that "like most typical action-adventures, the story starts out slow and only picks up toward the middle and end when the blades really start flying" and that "Afro Samurai is hardly a complex story" and that it only has "a handful of characters and a straightforward beat-the-next-guy plotline". Carlo Santos also noted that "the original Afro Samurai manga is pretty lousy" and that Takashi Okazaki often gets lost in "incomprehensible scribbles" and "style over substance." Volume 2 of Afro Samurai also charted 147 on ComiPress' "Top 250 Manga Volumes" of February 2009. The Blu-ray release of the anime series charted #16 on VideoScan's Blu-ray charts. Zac Bertschy of Anime News Nerwork stated about Afro Samurai: Resurrection that "it's a gorgeous film," with "incredible animation, spectacular action setpieces [sic] and a thumping score by Ghostface". Zac noted that the plot is just "window dressing" and that if it's about anything it's about "cool".
Zac criticized that the film is just an excuse to string fight scenes together and that the farther it goes on it becomes clearer how "weak the writing is". Hyper commends the anime for its art, saying, "stylised poses and sharp, dynamic visuals have long been a trademark element of this series, and they hold true [in the anime]." In January 2009, IGN ranked Afro Samurai 90th on a list of the top 100 animated series, saying that the over-the-top violence and quirky story and characters made the show enjoyable 
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- Official website
- Official Afro Samurai: Resurrection website (Japanese)
- Official Gomanga page
- Afro Samurai (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Afro Samurai (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Afro Samurai: Resurrection (film) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Afro Samurai (film) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Afro Samurai at the Internet Movie Database
- Afro Samurai: Resurrection at Internet Movie Database