Revisited: Afro Samurai Resurrection

Afro Samurai Resurrection

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Afro refuses to wear the No. 1 headband as the rules require, and spends his days making wooden sculptures of people from his past instead of fighting. On a bridge after fishing, a group of people challenge him, but he easily slays all of them. One dark and stormy night, Jinno (now mindlessly taking orders) and a mysterious woman named Sio attack Afro. Jinno easily defeats him and takes the No. 1 headband for Sio and then robs his father’s grave of his remains. Sio is revealed to be Jinno’s sister. Sio tells Afro her plans to resurrect Afro’s father Rokutaro so she can torture him as revenge against Afro for the lives he has destroyed including her brother’s and her own. Sio challenges Afro to find the No. 2 headband to earn the right to challenge her. Afro, determined to recover the No. 1 headband and his father’s remains, sets off to find the No. 2 headband. At “Lady’s Luck Town” in a stripper/sex club, finds brothers Brother 1 (who is in a stand-up wheelchair and has a catheter) and Brother 3 and has to play a dice game against Brother 3. Brother 3 cheats and Afro finds out, threatening to kill him and eventually learns from Brother 3 that the bearer of the No. 2 headband is a man named Shichigoro.

Afro, in search of Shichigoro, coincidentally kills the kidnapper of Schichigoro’s son and prompts Shichigoro to buy him a drink. They eventually fight to the death with the No. 2 headband at stake, and upon victory, Afro continues on toward Sio. Shichigoro’s adopted son Kotaro (who witnessed his father’s death) sobs and then vows revenge over the dead body of his father much like Afro and Justice. Along the way he is observed by three masked android warriors from his past. The warriors are revealed to be a part of Sio’s original plan to overwhelm Afro in the final battle, but apparently had decided to battle Afro early in an attempt to finish him off before Sio had to dirty her hands.

Afro battles and defeats the three while Sio attempts to resurrect a mind-controlled version of Rokutaro. However, Rokutaro is revived before he is completely restored, leaving him merely a mindless, though apparently somewhat controllable, killing machine. Afro defeats the three and is soon confronted by Sio, Jinno, and Rokutaro. With Afro hesitant to fight his father, Rokutaro defeats and kills him (stops his heart from beating by strangling him). Jinno comes to Afro’s aid, though pointless as Sio points out, in a sudden flash of selective memories of being a childhood friend and sparring partner with Afro. Landing only a few blows, Jinno is quickly killed by Rokutaro, who kills Sio in the same blow when she attempts to come to Jinno’s aid. The cybernetic remains of Jinno give off an electrical surge which, conducted through the spilled blood of Sio, restarts Afro’s heart. Afro apparently defeats Rokutaro and emerges from the scene wearing the No. 1 headband.

Afro walks away from the battle, wearing the No. 1 headband and clutching the No. 2 headband in right hand. He comes across Shichigoro’s orphaned son, who had been following him, and hands him the No. 2, telling him to challenge him when he’s ready. In the final scene, Takimoto meets up with a mysterious person who turns out to be Justice.

REVIEW:

Not that long ago on Spike TV, there was a little anime show called Afro Samurai. Yes, that is a bit of a silly name for a serious, violent cartoon, but who really cares? A couple of years later, a second season aired, but it was in the form of a film, Afro Samurai: Resurrection. Fans of the show were pleased and to this day, we want more, but if this has to be the swan song for Afro, so be it.

What is this about?

When he learns that the body of his father has been stolen from its grave, Afro and his sidekick, Ninja Ninja (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson), set out on a bloody trek through futuristic Japan to exact revenge.

What did I like?

Daddy. If you’re not familiar with the mythos of Afro, it is as follows…as a boy he watched his father get killed for the #1 headband, a token signifying the best fighter in the world, and spend his life training and hunting down the killer, a man called Justice. At the end of the series, he defeated Justice, avenged his father, and earned the #1 headband. The series never really tells us much about the father, other that he must have been a really good fighter and his death is what drives Afro. With his return, Afro seems to be not as deadly as he was. It is almost as if his father was a weakness for him. The reason I liked this is because it showed a human side to Afro that we rarely saw in the series.

Lady Sio. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, they always say. This is no truer than with the vixen known as Lady Sio. A couple of things about this character. In the series, she is the little girl who young Afro and his fellow students consider a little sister. For her to come back as a busty dominatrix (watch as she plays with the doctor using her boots) makes you see how scarred she ended up being after the events of the series. Second, Lucy Liu has a great voice for this character. The love she has for her brother and contempt for Afro comes through loud and clear.

Animation. There is a certain style of animation that sets Afro Samurai apart from every other anime and cartoon. I think the closest thing to it is the second season of The Boondocks, and even that is nowhere near the same. I appreciate the quality of this animation, as well as the different look it has. Not to mention, it really shines in the bloody action scenes…and yes, they are bloody. No one said this was for kids!

What didn’t I like?

Distraction. So, in order to challenge Lady Sio for her currently pilfered #1 headband, Afro must earn the #2 headband. It just so happens that this is being held by a man he meets and saves named Schichigoro and his young son. The fact that he has an adopted son, isn’t my qualm with this, but rather the fact that he is such a likable guy, so much so that it pains the audience to know what Afro has to do to the guy. Sure that was done for a reason, but it was done in the series with Swordmaster and to a lesser extent. I almost want to say they should have made this guy a lowlife scumbag, but there are so many of those running around, already that it wouldn’t have done any good. I don’t know, it was just a distraction for Afro, more than anything.

Freaks come out at night. Sio has these odd characters working for her that set out on their own to soften up Afro Samurai, a task that they do succeed in doing. However, I felt that it might have worked better had it turned out that they were the mutated, mangled, cybernetic bodies of the other students that were at the school with Afro, but met their unceremonious end, thanks to his lust for the #1 headband.

Plot. Maybe I had too high of expectations, but this story doesn’t really measure up to the storyline in the series. It just seems to either be weaker or not flow as well, and I’m not really sure why that is. It isn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but it just lacks the imagination and focus of the series. I guess you could say it suffers from the “sophomore slump”.

Afro Samurai: Resurrection provides fans of the series a second season, a film, and a fitting end to a beloved character that still doesn’t get the respect he deserves. This is the kind of anime film that many can watch but, as I said before, this isn’t for kids. It is bloody, violent, has a few choice words, and there are some sexual innuendos spoken. That being said, for those of us that aren’t young ‘uns, I very highly recommend this as a must see before you die! I do suggest that you watch the series first, though.

5 out of 5 stars

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