Anime Review: Afro Samurai: Season One - Director's Cut (2008)

Afro Samurai: Season One - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

This review is for the Blu-ray release.

Afro Samurai: Season 1 is the first part of the Afro Samurai saga, with five 25-minute chapters. The anime is created by Takashi "Bob" Okazaki, directed by Fuminori Kizaki, who also directs Afro Samurai: Resurrection. The tracks in the movie have been produced by "The RZA" of "Wu-Tang clan" fame.

Afro Samurai: Season One - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Storyline: 4/5
Afro Samurai tells the story of *drums...* Afro Samurai, a pseudo Afro American samurai in a feudalistic yet futuristic Japan — think traditional Japanese culture, buildings, people, with modern technology.

The 5 chapters follows the story of Afro, on his quest for vengeance, to regain the famed Number One Headband which was taken from his father after he was defeated and killed right in front of him.

The viewers are introduced to the past of Afro through several flash back sequences in the series. The storyline is not new, samurais embarking on quests of vengeance are common in the anime world. However, the characters give this tried and true storyline a refreshing breath. The unique mixture of different cultures (traditional Japanese Samurais and American Afro Hip Hop) works surprisingly well, much credit is due to the creator Takashi "Bob" Okazaki.

Afro Samurai: Season One - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Video Quality: 2.5/5
Afro Samurai: Season 1 was animated to follow the manga by creator Takashi "Bob" Okazaki as closely as possible, therefore the animation looks pretty much as it would on manga.

The colours at most parts of the animation looks almost entirely monochromatic, there are almost no scenes in the animation that justifies buying the animation on Blu-ray. You would probably be better off getting the DVD release of this instead of the Blu-ray.

Animation wise, the action sequences are pretty well done. A lot of samurai anime fighting sequences are overly exaggerated. Not as elegant and smooth as I would have liked, but overly the actions are well choreographed and animated.

Afro Samurai: Season One - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Audio: 3.5/5
Not much surprises in the audio quality, you get the typical Dolby TrueHD quality that you would expect from Blu-rays.

The music and soundtracks though, deserve some mention. The background music tracks are produced by The RZA (of The Wu-Tang clan), and features several genres of music - Soul, Rock, Techno, and Hip-Hop. the music profiles for each of the main characters are created to bring out their styles, Hip-Hop for Afro, Techno for Afro Droid and Rock for Justice. The tracks do quite a lot to bolster the lack in video quality and blend very well with the animation.

Afro Samurai: Season One - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Extras: 2/5
Afro Samurai comes with normal frills and thrills in the extra features.

  • In The Booth - Voice Talent of Afro Samurai
    This part introduces the various voice talents behind Afro Samurai - Kelly Hu, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ron Perlman.
  • RZA Music Production Tour.
    This section features the RZA introducing the viewers to the different kinds of music in the series. You would be surprised that Afro Samurai actually has a musical storyline. Rock kills Soul, 'little' Soul grows up, evolves, and becomes Hip-Hop, and Hip-Hop kills Rock. This part is pretty interesting.
  • Character Profiles with commentary by Co-Producer: Eric Calderon.
    This section features the co-producer of Afro Samurai going through the character profiles of the characters in the series, who they are, the source of their characters' inspiration etc.
  • Trailers
    (1) Desert Punk
    (2) Burst Angel
    (3) Samurai 7
    (4) Speed Grapher
    (5) Claymore
    (6) Basilisk
    (7) Trinity Blood
    (8) Hana
    (9) Origin

Conclusion: 3/5
Afro Samurai: Season 1 is a pretty good anime series. The animation is smooth, but suffers from the director's decision to have the animation follow the manga as closely as possible, resulting in seemingly lackluster colours throughout the series. The animation fails to take advantage of the quality that blu-ray is capable of, but seeing as how this animation was produced way before blu-ray came in, this shortcoming is understandable.

Get the Blu-ray director's cut version for the cut scenes (nudity and excessive violence), swearing and elongated ending. Otherwise there is not much to lose if you simply get the normal DVD version.

For more on Afro Samurai, check out the official

Afro Samurai: Season One - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

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Where to find it

Visit the links below to read more reviews on Amazon. There are other disc formats available also. Do note the region code for the disc and your player before buying.

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Artwise, something I would

Artwise, something I would like to recommend is Mushishi. A slow, thoughtful show featuring some of the more beautiful art in recent anime. It reminds me a bit of the nature-themed Ghibli movies, such as Mononoke hime.

Too bad there isn't a decent blu-ray available, as I believe even the japanese release is just an upscale of the dvd. Also, avoid the live-action feature they did, which more or less loses everything that was charming about the show.

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