John Derderian, Netflix, Vice President of Japan & Anime
From Tokyo to Los Angeles to New York, we’ve brought together the very best global talent to make this show — creator, executive producer and director LeSean Thomas, revered Japanese animation studio MAPPA, world class director and animator Takeshi Koike, award-winning actor LaKeith Stanfield, and Grammy Award-nominated artist Flying Lotus have reimagined this story of the first African samurai.
Yasuke is a six-episode anime series created by LeSean Thomas, set in alternate fantastical Japan during the feudal era. The story follows a samurai warrior of African descent who must return to his life of sword-fighting and violence in order to protect a mysterious girl from dark forces. The story, just like the passionate creative team, transcends borders, cultures and languages and is one that we’re so proud to tell at Netflix and share with the world.
Today we’re excited to reveal the first look and announce the launch date for the series. Here are a few words from LeSean on this unique genre-bending story premiering around the world on April 29, 2021.
LeSean Thomas, Creator, Executive Producer and Director
There is a serendipitous nature about this project, how an African-American man goes to Japan to live and work amongst the very best in Japanese anime to create an anime about an African who goes to Japan to live amongst the Japanese elite and become a warrior. Part of me deep down feels I was meant to create this adventure series with MAPPA, Flying Lotus, LaKeith & the rest of this talented team.
Yasuke is a fascinating, mysterious figure in Japanese history that’s drawn a growing interest in today’s media over the decades. I first learned of Yasuke’s role in Japanese history over a decade or so. The children’s book, Kuro-suke by Kurusu Yoshio, featured images that piqued my curiosity. To eventually learn that he wasn’t just a fictional character, but a real person, was exciting material for an adventure story.
I’m so excited for both longtime fans and newcomers to enjoy our reimagined take on this historical figure.
In a war-torn feudal Japan filled with mechs and magic, the greatest ronin never known, Yasuke, struggles to maintain a peaceful existence after a past life of violence. But when a local village becomes the center of social upheaval between warring daimyo, Yasuke must take up his sword and transport a mysterious child who is the target of dark forces and bloodthirsty warlords.
Episode count: 6
Debut date: April 29, 2021