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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Afro Samurai Manga vol. 1 Impression

Afro Samurai Manga volume 1
Afro Samurai manga volume 1 from Tor/Seven Seas takes all the action found in the FUNimation released anime and delivers better than expected. Made famous by its run on Spike TV as well as support and voice work by Samuel L. Jackson, Afro Samurai follows the tale of No. 2 headband wearer Afro Samurai. At a young age Afro witnesses his father, then the owner of the No. 1 headband, slayed before his eyes by No. 2. Fast forward and Afro, now as No. 2 must fend off the attacks of any and every challenger for only No. 2 can challenge No. 1, but anyone can challenge No. 2. The owner of the No. 1 headband gains power, what power we shall learn, but it seems to be godlike, if not eternal life at the least.

As the manga progresses through it’s five chapters we see Afro face off with assassins sent by a group of brothers called the Empty Seven, confront an old warrior on the run from the brothers, use an innocent as a shield, then take on three of the brothers as well as a teddy bear assassin who seems to have a bone to pick. The story ends with Afro, bloodied and close to being buried tossed into a waterfall.

This manga by creators Takashi Okazaki is beautiful. It takes a vivid anime and loses nothing as it moves to 2D black and white pages. The only color used is red, for blood to emphasize the brutality and it works so well. Red, black and white, simple colors yet they work so well to bring the story to life. The art is a mirror of the anime, you can almost hear the hip-hop playing as you read, the style is intact. Learning that Afro Samurai started as a doujinshi manga then evolved into the anime, back into a manga, quite a road and a change in art style. This is an anime East and West collaboration that the industry should be proud of. Storyline you get the basics in place, No. 1 vs. No. 2, the Empty Seven, Teddy Bear assassin, but the stories along the way vary and this is more than enough reason for fans to pick the book up.

This is my first experience with a Tor/Seven Seas published manga, but I assure you it won’t be the last. Like Dark Horse the subtle additions of color and a very premium feel to the book make me proud to have this as a reviewer, fan and collector. High praise, but well deserved.

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