Title: Afro Samurai Genres: Action, Science Fiction Author: Takashi Okazaki Artist: Takashi Okazaki Publication: Seven Seas Entertainment Start Date: September 1999 End Date: May 2000 Number of chapters at review: 10 Number of chapters read by reviewer: 10
General Overview: It is said that the one who becomes "Number One" will rule the world, wielding powers akin to a god. Someone becomes Number One by killing the previous Number One and taking his ceremonial headband. However, only the "Number Two" is allowed to challenge the Number One. Because of this, few people ever reach the Number One because the Number Two headband is constantly changing owners. Afro's father was the old Number One, until he was brutally killed in a duel by a gunman right in front of Afro. Now an adult, Afro is the current Number Two and a master swordsman; he is constantly searching for Number One, hell-bent on claiming revenge by winning the Number One title.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Although It’s not the most detailed manga the art still manages to be visually striking, it's aesthetic style suits feudal Japan very well. However the action sequences can frequently become a blur, rendering it difficult to grasp what exactly is occurring. Besides the usual shades of black, white and grey, blood is coloured red, this adds to the hectic atmosphere of the battles and also allows one to distinguish when someone has being killed in a fight.
The plot is simplistic and straightforward; it goes through the basic motions of a revenge tale until near the very end. The story at times feels like a video game, where it’s just enemies being slain one after another. There exists no complex or parallel storylines as one must also take into consideration the fact that the manga is only 10 chapters long. All in all it tells a simple tale quite effectively with no hiccups and at a fast pace.
80% of the characters are just generic goons and mini bosses, none of whom have much depth. Afro himself has no humanity, hardly any redeeming qualities and shows virtually no attachments to the supporting characters. The protagonist’s dedication towards his lone goal is killing No.1 spells doom for most of whom he encounters. The fact that Afro is essentially remorseless means he rejects any growth he is being subjected to. And thus he remains just a badass til the very end, but also consequentially little more than a simpleton. The length of the manga means there’s little time to develop the other characters; as a result their deaths are also less impactful.
First and foremost is the theme of revenge, which branches out into other concepts, such as the loss of one’s humanity in pursuit of vengeance, and the relevancy of personal vendetta against the greater good of the world. Other themes include friendship, forgiveness, and the fragility of society. The themes and messages were cliched but I felt that it was presented in an acceptable manner.
I suppose the idea of a lone samurai seeking revenge isn’t exactly original, nor is the concept of fighting for the title of the world’s strongest. The world of Afro Samurai is a nice blend of technology and feudal society, which is quite pleasing but again, not entirely original. The author does however add enough of his own personal touch the idea of a status quo to keep it interesting.
The story is fast paced and there is constant action, albeit a lack of depth in characters and plot is the main issue. Ultimately Afro Samurai feels like a short parable of some sort that proves to be a semi-decent light read.