Afro Samurai: ResurrectionAfro Samurai: Resurrection
Director's Cut (FUNimation) (2 DVDs)
WARNING: SOME MINOR LEAGUE SPOILERS AHEAD
In today’s multicultural world, just about everyone is familiar with the idea of karma. It’s the universal law that as they say in street vernacular, says “what goes around, comes around.” you want to get more Biblical, one could say you reap what you sow.
In Afro Samurai, the inciting event, the seed, was the slaughter of hundreds of people, whether they were killers or not. With the sequel, Resurrection, it’s time to sow the poisoned crop.
The first Afro Samurai centered on the titular young warrior and his “companion” - Ninja Ninja (both voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). In the futuristic yet feudal Japan of the series, Afros Samurai’s father was the “Number One” Samurai in this post-apocalyptic world. As the rules of the world stood, only “Number Two” – the second best could challenge Number One. When Afro was a child, Number Two, a gunman named Justice (Ron Perlman) challenged and killed Number One. Even though he was a child, the cycle of revenge had begun for Afro Samurai.
Afro traveled along his warrior’s path, fighting and killing not only all those who want their hands on the title of Number Two, but his sword teacher and his fellow students as well – including his “brother,” Jinno (Yuri Lowenthal), and Jinno’s little sister Sio (Lucy Liu). When all is said and done, Afro does obtain “justice,” and becomes Number One, but Sio doesn’t take this lightly, and the cycle begins anew.
Roll over to Resurrection. Sio’s plan goes into effect. She has not only stolen the Number One headband, but also resurrected a number of Afro’s victims, including Jinno, and has her eyes set on resurrecting his father. The storyline sets up a battle of epic proportions – brother against brother, father against son.
What set the initial chapter of this hit anime series was not only Gonzo’s trademark graphic style. The story successfully fused elements from Peckinpah/Tarantino/Rodriguez, chanbara/jidaigeki, and a gangster swagger. It was Samurai Champloo gone turbo; with enough body parts flying and Eastwood 1000-yard-stares to please the most discerning of aficionados.
More important than upping the ante on the storyline is the time and care Gonzo has put into the visuals of the sequel. The primary color palette on the original Afro was made of grays and deep reds, “monochrome” as some of the animators put it. With Resurrection, rich blues and golds have been added, making a much richer visual experience. The action sequencing is still top notch, and the vocal performances from Jackson, Liu, Lowenthal and company is on the money. If that isn’t enough, it’s a good thing the special edition comes with a separate soundtrack CD. Once some of the pieces supplied by the RZA get in your head, it will take multiple listenings to get them out. Of course, there’s the additional extra content on the DVD about everything from the success of the series to the creation of this sequel, but it also has its merits.
In all, one can be snarky and say Resurrection is a true cut above the original. The real deal is the Gonzo crew has managed to surpass their original. What more do you need?
Afro Samurai: Resurrection hits stores on February 3rd in both standard and Director’s Cut edition