Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Afro Samurai: Resurrection DVD Impression

The path to number one is long and bloody, and as we learn in Afro Samurai: Resurrection from FUNimation, not every casualty is a dead body. Having avenged his father and become number one Afro is now at peace until an old friend comes calling. Geno shows up proving he is not as dead as once thought, the reason, his sister Siyo. In her quest for vengeance, Siyo will torture Afro by bringing back the one thing which can bring the most pain … his father. As Siyo and Kuma step in, whoop up on Afro and take the number one headband a new quest is undertaken, one to reclaim number two then head to confront Siyo. On his journey Afro will encounter the new number two, Shichigoro and his young son, take on a new trio of assassins in Siyo’s technologically ramped up Bin, Michael and Tomoe, face off in a crooked game of dice with the remaining brothers and of course be tailed non-stop by the smart ass Ninja Ninja. The journey is not as long, but the enemies and bloodshed will leave a deep a mark on Afro as any gash he’s ever received.

Ah, Afro Samurai, a bridge between East and West, anime and hip-hop and so much more. Spike TV helped make Afro Samurai popular with its initial run, and thus the promo of the sequel Resurrection. The animation is as beautiful and stylish as any anime on the market (Blu-ray is hot1) and the design continues to mix feudal Japan with modern hip-hop style into which the collaborators on this project just fit. So animation and design is outstanding, something to praise creator Takashi ‘Bob” Okazaki for, not just of for his creation but what he did with Afro that many may not realize and something I really learned about form interviews and the Afro Samurai manga from Tor. Bob opened up his creation to a collaborative powerhouse team and game them the freedom to make Afro what it is today.

While I can praise all day the animation and design, the later of which was juiced up from Bob’s original works, it’s the music, style and voice work that shines as an example of what Afro Samurai is, and how Resurrection came to be. First the music, inspired and created by the RZA of Wu-Tang fame (btw, the Wu had a short comic run of their own set in a similar setting). The music sets the pace and action and just accentuates the cool, bad-ass feel of the entire franchise. Resurrection starts off with a motorcycle sequence that just jams with the music, it is great and never once slows down the entire feature. Next up the style which Okazaki was very wise in going urban with. This is his franchise, but he has let many smart people be involved and the viewers are the beneficiary of a style that is as cool as Cowboy Bebop, Trinity Blood and Bleach combined. It’s that cool and stylish folks. Finally when you lead with Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Hamill and Lucy Liu then as a viewer you are expecting gold and with Resurrection you get it. There is emotion in all the flavors from too cool for school to utter panic and fear.

So Afro Samurai: Resurrection offers up a stylish, great sounding, well sound tracked, beautifully animated thrill ride backed by an outstanding creative team and great voice work. The special features also give great insight into how this collaboration came to be. The only issue I have with this feature is one little story trait which honestly could ruin the whole movie for sticklers for detail. How does Afro, as the number one, have his headband taken by someone who is not the number two, and then in turn why must he seek the number two headband to challenge for number one again? I’ll leave you with that thought as you drool over this feature.

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