Yasuke (2021)

Let me preface this review by saying that I will watch more of Yasuke.

I did find that the scope of events in the latter half quickly outstripped the amount of episodes allocated to the season, resulting in a pretty rushed feel which left me feeling a little cold toward the show.

If Netflix would simply stand by their creators and not rush out a handful of episodes at a time, maybe it’d be easier for shows to pace their storytelling, to give characters and events room to breathe/develop. (Of course, I don’t know if that is actually what’s happening).

But stepping away from possible production issues, I didn’t need much convincing to try this short anime at all – samurai, supernatural stuff, outsider lead character, all things that I tend to enjoy.

And enjoy them I did. Most of the action was great and while there were times where the dialogue didn’t land for me, the range of character designs and colour palettes balanced that out.

While I didn’t go in seeking historical fiction from the anime, I did really enjoy the flashback portions of the story. In fact, Yasuke’s backstory became more compelling than the main storyline at one point, and I would have watched more in that vein for sure.

That’s not to knock the mentor relationship between Yasuke & Saki but there was a lot about other characters that didn’t work for me.

An example of that would be the sense that Achoja and co were meant to be rogues that come around to the side of the good guys when faced with a bigger evil, and yet the narrative sort of jammed them and their flat banter into events then did away with them before giving enough time to get to know or care about them.   

Maybe I misread the purpose of those characters in the narrative?

As much as I liked the variety in character designs, Saki did sometimes have a little of an ‘adult face in kid’s body’ look and Father Abraham reminded me a bit too much of Anthony Hopkins. Minor things, but I noticed them.

For me, the first few episodes feel like a great beginning to a pretty epic story.

The next ones less so, but I’m still keen to see what happens next with future seasons should they appear and ended up preferring Yasuke over Cannon Busters.

3 Stars

(I should mention that the OST by Flying Lotus really stands out too.)

7 thoughts on “Yasuke

  1. Yeah, I heard that anime was kind of average. I do have some curiosity since Yasuke was a real life person. It does blow my mind that an anime would feature a Mozambican character even if it’s a fictionalized version of the real person, but maybe they should’ve had better execution with the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would love to hear what you think if you check it out – and I agree, don’t think I’ve ever come across anime with a lead character from Mozambique before!

      It’d be interesting to see something more biographical about Yasuke but I also found myself thinking that there was no real reason LeSean Thomas couldn’t mash-up history, magic and mechs – plenty of other directors have done so over the decades 😀

      (Overall, I wish I’d enjoyed it more but as I said, I’ll still watch the next episodes whenever they’re released.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure. The subject matter is intriguing and I do want to read more about the subject since I only know a few things about him. I know, right? I can’t even think of mainstream works who cover anything about that country.

        Sure. I will read more about him. I wonder if there’s a documentary about Yasuke of sorts? There was going to be that biopic about that African samurai with Chadwick Boseman, but that got canceled for obvious reasons (RIP, Chadwick). There’s certainly a way to mash up history, magic, and mechs in an alternate universe way.

        So there will be other seasons then. Okay. Maybe things could improve.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Me too, or maybe a written biography out there somewhere if no docco?

          That would have been great, if only!

          Not long after the first few episodes were released I thought I read that there would be more… but now I’m not sure, Netflix are just too unpredictable, huh? I’d love for the series to have a chance to go further.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yeah. I do wonder if a written biography exists somewhere.

            That’s right. Oh, the tyranny of what if.

            Netflix has been weird for their original series. With the ones they license, at least you can tell if more episodes are happening given the original Japanese broadcasts, but if they are online only, one could only guess.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Yeah, I know what mean. Netflix has been interesting in its approach to anime – able to recognise and secure popular titles but (in my opinion) somehow being impatient and hesitant at the same time when it comes to some of originals.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Definitely. They certainly have enough money to throw down to secure so many licenses worldwide. Not just with anime, but documentaries, K-dramas, and Nollywood. They’ve been weird when it came to anime originals.

            Liked by 1 person

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