Afro Samurai: The Hunt for Number One


The hottest anime on American TV right now is undoubtedly Afro Samurai. The entire show is based on an action figure seen by Eric Calderon and created by Takashi Okazaki. Though the story of Afro Samurai spans just his life, Okazaki’s original idea spanned a timeline of 1,000 years!

As a boy Afro watched his father killed by Justice, voiced by Ron Perlman, for the right to be called the number one fighter in the world. Left with only his father’s severed head, young Afro is left in the wilderness. He is eventually taken in by a sword-master, where he learns the way of the samurai.

We catch up to Afro after he has become the number two fighter in the world, a rank earning him the right to challenge the number one to take vengeance for his father’s death. But this status comes at a price. Any punk or swordsman can challenge the number two for the chance to take his rank. As a result Afro walks a path carved in blood in his search for Justice.

The show takes place in an alternate time. In both setting and style it’s something of a blend between Samurai Jack and Samurai Champloo. The world has a definite medieval Japanese look and feel to it but Afro faces opponents with rockets, hand grenades, guns and cybernetic implants. These juxtapositions work perfectly to create a wholly unique and engrossing setting for the story.

The animation is fluid and beautiful. Fight scenes are horrific and awesome, with no swing of the blade unseen and every drop of blood accounted for. The voice acting is spot-on as well. I was most curious to see Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as both Afro and Ninja Ninja, Afro’s sidekick. Thankfully Jackson has more than enough acting chops to fill both sets of shoes and it doesn’t hurt that Afro hardly speaks and Ninja Ninja never seems to shut up.

The last episode of the season will have aired by the time you read this, but expect Spike TV to replay the episodes. The show costs about $1 million per episode to create so it has been limited to five shows; a second season has been hinted at, depending on the ratings and sales of the DVD (which is rumored to be out this May). This show is one of a kind and definitely worth your time.