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Afro Samurai
Reviewer: Aaron Murphy 04/22/2007

Afro Samurai tells the tale of a boy, whose father is brutally murdered before him and his subsequent quest for revenge. Jumping back and forth between the present and the past, we see how he came to be the emotionless killer he is today and follow his journey to seek revenge against the man that killed his father all those years ago.      
Afro Samurai is sort of a black sheep among anime titles. Many anime fans believe that something is only considered anime if it is made in Japan, though I use Japan loosely here, and dubbed in Japanese before being released in the States. Thus, a title like Afro Samurai that is animated by Gonzo, but dubbed in English first, is considered westernized and not a “true” anime title. While I don’t agree with most of that, Afro Samurai does seem to have been made specifically for its western audience. The DVD release in Japan will not even be dubbed in Japanese. So yes, Afro Samurai does appear to be a westernized anime title, but this does not make it inherently bad.
Afro Samurai is an odd mix of samurai style fighting, advanced technology, and hip-hop grooves. Similar to Samurai Champloo in style and feel, the problem here lies in the fact that the characters are flat and the plot is rather simplistic. Our main man, Afro, is an emotionless killer, hell-bent on bringing his father’s killer to justice. He has very few lines across the 5 episodes, trying to stress that strong and silent archetype. He travels with an uninvited sidekick, whose sole purpose is to add some comedy to a rather dark tale, but is only mildly successful at it. The plot it straightforward from beginning to end as Afro keeps chugging along till he finally faces off with his father’s killer at the end. No great revelations or character growth are anywhere near this feature. Now to be fair, it does have a couple of interesting side stories involving Afro and his old childhood friends that aren’t exactly fond of him. These little stories and flashbacks are what make-up the middle three episodes of the release. However, these little side jaunts are not enough to save Afro Samurai from having an exceedingly mediocre plot.
Now while the plot may be simple and the characters one dimensional, the animation is really top notch. It would seem most of the budget went into the technical aspects of this release, rather than trying to write a story with some depth.   The music is more of an acquired taste, with its rap themes and beats; it will really depend on your preferences. However, if you enjoy the music it will definitely enhance to your overall enjoyment of the series, as it mixes well with Afro Samurai’s style.  
Where Afro Samurai really excels is when you combine the animation, music, and style with its fight scenes. Since most of the release focuses on action, one would hope they would get that right.  Well, they did. Featuring enchanting fight scenes, some of which are rather lengthy, all of which carry oodles of style. This is the aspect of the release that most people will enjoy, a badass character with a sword, killing a bunch of people in spectacular battles. If only they done more with the story they might have actually had something here.
The main draw for the English dub, the only one going to be released at this point, is that Samuel L. Jackson voices Afro and his sidekick. The dub’s quality is not so much the problem, though some of the side characters did sound a little off at times. The real problem with the English dub is that it uses a whole bunch of slang. This won’t be a problem for some people, but if you do not like lines such as, “Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, Afro! That was off the chain, cold blooded my brother!” you might want to stay away. Especially with the unedited version, which will throw a, “damn, mother fucker!” onto the end of that.
Afro Samurai is certainly not going to appeal to everyone. Those of you that are looking for something with deep meaning, interesting characters and some brains should look elsewhere. However, for those of you looking to watch some badass kill hordes of people in style, with animation to match, give Afro Samurai a look. It should be able to satisfy your hunger for violence, but little else.        
The unedited version has a number of different extras along with a total of 15 more minutes of footage.

Afro Samurai
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Review Title:
Afro Samurai
150 Minutes
General Rating:
3.5 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Action, Samurai
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