Author: Ben Tran
In a futuristic feudal Japan, Afro Samurai is an anime heavily influenced by soul, hip hop, and modern day American media combined with Japanese culture. An anime that appeals to viewers with eye-popping action, samurai, and seinen genre, Afro Samurai introduces a familiar and typical theme: revenge. Aside from some few comedic reliefs, the five-episode Afro Samurai revolves around its morbid theme seriously. This motif is the epitome of Afro Samurai’s plot and the development the viewer sees in the protagonist, Afro, and the characters that he interacts with
Afro Samurai, immediately ascertained from the title and the opening scene, contains the genre of mostly samurai. However, Afro Samurai is different from typical samurai anime genre. Bushido (the Way of the Warrior), often seen in the samurai genre, is rarely seen because of the series’ plot. In a system where the strongest win and the rest die, it is not surprising that there are no elements of Japanese chivalry or morals in Afro Samurai’s feudal world. The plot allows the anime to be categorized under the seinen genre, because revenge is always involved in any plot that contains casualty from combat. Also, the styles of the anime, violence and sex (influences from American media), are used under the seinen genre and in combination with the samurai genre to bring a serious tone to the series, rather than the light-hearted feel of other samurai anime. However, atypical of action anime that combines the samurai genre, there are multiple scenes that combines entertaining action with unique styles of drawing and angles.
The theme present in Afro Samurai is focused on revenge, as it reoccurs several times in the main character and in the plot, in general. After witnessing his father's death, Afro as a child to adulthood becomes obsessed with avenging his father and slaying "Justice", the second strongest titled cowboy-guised fighter, because he killed Afro's father for the title of the greatest warrior in the world. The story of the series delivers the same moral message that a fable may come up with, that revenge should never be the only existence to live. Afro Samurai reflects upon this, following Afro's quest in his search for the man who killed his father. But revenge, as the series shows, demands sacrifice and Afro sacrificed his friends, his master, his lover and a part of himself to avenge his father. Afro, by taking up the title of second strongest in the world in order to challenge his nemesis, bears the burden of slaying all who challenge him for his title, just for the sake of revenge.