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Afro Samurai: Resurrection
Reviewer: Aaron Murphy 02/27/2009

Afro Samurai is back, resurrected as an hour and forty minute movie spectacle with all the trappings of the original. With pounding hip-hop beats by The RZA and some fantastic animation work by Gonzo, there isn’t much left but to have some kick ass fights, gratuitous sex, and a paper thin plot that follows an ever present straight line from beginning to end. It worked in the first, where a mishmash of delicious technical aspects and “oodles of style” made Afro Samurai fun to watch. Even if you did need to turn your brain cells off to get past the one-dimensional storyline and characters. That’s all I expected from its sequel, Afro Samurai Resurrection, but those expectations were summarily dashed. 
Afro Samurai Resurrection continues a few years after Afro claimed the number one headband, following the defeat of his father’s killer, Justice, by his own hands. Losing the will to fight after accomplishing the task of avenging his father, Afro resigned himself from his “responsibility” as the number one and took up carving Buddha dolls in a towering sanctuary away from all the fighting. This shirking of duty, however, apparently resulted in the downfall of society as those who would have aspired to fight the number one turn their murderous intentions onto the population of the world at large. While Afro may wish to escape from his past of relentless and merciless killing, there are many who still hold a grudge for lost loved ones and even more who blame him for the world’s current downward spiral. None more than Lady Sio and her brother Kuma (aka Teddy Bear Darth Vader), childhood friends of Afro who had their lives ruined by his insatiable lust for revenge. They, along with a mad scientist and other childhood cohorts turned evil robotic monstrosities, have decided to get Afro back in the game by reviving his long dead father. Their plan is to bring him back to life and then torture the living daylights out of him as a way to torment Afro and bring back his bloodlust. And so begins a twisted journey of humdrum action scenes, a contrived storyline and an ending that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense any way you slice it.
There’s not much to talk about by way of the characters, since they are typically one-dimensional and, to be quite frank, uninteresting. Afro, with no real back-story left to flesh out his character, could not be more boring to watch as he slowly chases after those who took his father while saying as little as humanly possible. Ninja Ninja, his ever trusty imaginary sidekick, continues to be the true voice of Samuel L. Jackson in this series. I don’t find him nearly as annoying as most people tend to, but maybe that’s because I’m just glad someone is talking. Of course, that’ll depend on if you can actually understand him. With no Japanese language track, since it was made for US release, you’re stuck with the English dub. No need to fear, with names like Samuel L. Jackson, Lucy Liu and Mark Hamill playing the major roles, there’s a generally high level of quality here. You really shouldn’t have a problem with the quality of the voices, the writing sure, but not the acting. 
Then there’s the story… Now I can forgive Afro Samurai Resurrection for having a weak storyline, it’s pretty much a given that being deep or philosophical is not the name of the game here. Afro’s father being resurrected after being dead for decades? Sure. Crazy robotic monsters which insane weapons that are completely impractical? All the better. What doesn’t work is a title with such a simplistic, standard-fare story about revenge (again) wanders into the realm of inanity. This is especially apparent during the finale, which culminates in one of the most ridiculous, idiotic endings I have yet had the pleasure of watching. It didn’t make any sense, characters completely changed their personalities in an instant without any previous foreshadowing or much reason, and it was utterly anti-climactic. Not only because of how absurd it ended up, but with how poorly it was handled in terms of animation and execution. Now I can’t knock Afro Samurai Resurrection for having poor animation, most of the time anyway, since quite frankly 95% of the time it’s pretty damn amazing. From the rich colors and fluent motion to the exquisitely detailed backgrounds there’s little to complain about here. This is what makes it so strange. Why, for the final battle of the movie, would you make it last about half a minute and use black and white sketches of the characters rather than actual animation? It’s probably not as abysmal as that just sounded, but it’s pretty close.     
That’s not even the most unfortunate part. Being the self-proclaimed action junkie that I am, and with such great detail and animation quality to be had here, the action scenes just really disappointed me. In an overall sense, the style and flow that made the fights in the first OVA so noteworthy are nearly thrown out the window. In their place are lazily done, poorly executed action sequences with very little to keep the viewer entranced. Slow motion is often used, but in such an ineffectual manner that it just makes the scene awkward and sluggish rather than highlighting a move or action. That’s not to say they’re all poorly executed, there are some rather engaging scenes with Afro fighting against his foes, but they pale in comparison to what was done in the previous OVA and with what they could have achieved here. It’s really a lost opportunity. Not even the wonton sex scenes and pole dancers could save it.
Afro Samurai Resurrection should have been a bloody good time with lots of action, sex and amazing technical’s mixed in for good measure. Alas, there’s plenty of action but nothing striking, a couple spoonfuls of sex but nothing appealing, and they story gets so nonsensical that you can’t even ignore its stupidity. At least they got the technical’s right; otherwise this really would have been a disaster.             
There are three different versions of Afro Samurai: Resurrection. There's an edited DVD edition that is the same as the one shown on Spike TV, and a director's cut in DVD and Blu-ray formats.
The increase in quality from DVD to Blu-ray is usually a tad suspect with regards to anime titles, but Afro Samurai Resurrection is definitely one you’ll want to get in Blu-ray.

Afro Samurai: Resurrection
Afro Samurai: Resurrection
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Review Title:
Afro Samurai: Resurrection
90 Minutes
General Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Action, Samurai
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