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New Netflix Anime ‘Yasuke’ Puts a Spotlight on Feudal Japan’s Legendary Black Samurai

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Cat Abanohttps://catherineabano.com/
Catherine Abano is a freelance content creator and a writer and editor for The Hub. She is dedicated to analyzing media representations of marginalized groups and how those representations affect larger beliefs.

Netflix’s new anime series “Yasuke”, which takes a fantasy twist on Japan’s legendary Black samurai, premiered on Thursday, landing a spot on the streaming platform’s top ten movies and TV series.

“Yasuke” was created and directed by LeSean Thomas (“Black Dynamite”), executive produced by “Atlanta” star LaKeith Stanfield, who also voices the main character.

The anime’s soundtrack was produced by Flying Lotus and animated at Japanese animation studio MAPPA, known for popular animes like “Attack on Titan” and “Jujutsu Kaisen.”

The samurai Yasuke was a real-life samurai and historical figure who served under the Japanese daimyo, or feudal lord, Oda Nobunaga after arriving in Japan as a servant to Italian missionaries in 1579.

The anime takes an alternate-reality spin on Yasuke’s life following Nobunaga’s death in 1582, when Yasuke’s whereabouts became less documented.

In the anime, Yasuke has been living a quiet life as a boatsman after the fall of Nobunaga’s forces. He is forced back into battle when he offers to ferry a mother and her sick child to a doctor in another village.

Oda Nobunaga, one of the most important figures in Japanese history, at first did not understand that Yasuke was born with dark skin.

When they met, Nobunaga had Yasuke strip and scrub his skin, thinking that Yasuke had inked his skin black. This event makes its way into the anime.

After Nobunaga realized Yasuke was indeed Black, the daimyo took an interest in him and eventually asked him to enter his service.

Yasuke was the only non-Japanese retainer that Nobunaga held in his service.

He rose through the ranks and was present at many important battles throughout Nobunaga’s reign, including the battle at Honno-ji Temple where the daimyo was forced to commit seppuku.

In 2019, prior to his death, it was announced that Chadwick Boseman would play the role of Yasuke in a live-action film.

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