Afro Samurai is a decent anime miniseries from 2007, based on a manga with the same name. In a world where a headband known as the “No. 1 headband” determines who is the best swordsman in the world and is thought by some to give godly powers or immortality there lives a boy. That boy’s name is Afro and his father is the owner of the No. 1 headband. One day a man named Justice, wearing the No. 2 headband, challenges the father to e fight for who gets to be No. 1.
Justice then kills the boy’s father and takes the headband. Leaving Afro with the words “Challenge me, when you’re ready to duel a God.”. This puts young Afro in a tricky position because only the owner of the No. 2 headband can challenge No. 1, so he needs to be No. 2. But anyone can challenge No. 2 so whoever has that headband is constantly under attack.
Through the anime we follow the grown up Afro, in possession of the No. 2 headband, and his partner Ninja Ninja as Afro seeks to get revenge for his father by killing Justice and becoming No. 1. The two main characters are voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. The series has a highly stylized art style and a soundtrack by RZA from Wu-Tang Clan.
All the potential
You would think that a game with this premise, published by Namco Bandai Games would be a shining gift from the heavens. But no. They made a game and it was pretty bad. Then they made another. That one was even worse… This fact makes me very sad because as a fan of stylish art, the Wu-Tang Clan, samurai movies, anime, hack and slash games, Samuel L. Jackson and a combination of all of the above, my expectations were through the roof.
Both Afro Samurai games are pretty bad. Hack and slash gameplay is fun when done right, but when the camera is the one that you are constantly fighting, it becomes a matter of time until you want to break a controller or even a monitor. If the camera does not make you want to break stuff the boss fight surely will. Generic three stage fights with cheap mechanics and an overwhelming difficulty curve do not sound like a good time. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the gameplay is as bland as bread. In the second game you don’t even get the cool factor from playing as Afro. You play as Kuma instead. Those things might have been forgivable if the unforgettable style of the anime was present but sadly the games fall short there as well.
Don’t make more of these!
In behind the scenes footage from the anime, Samuel L. Jackson said “We are not trying to change the world with this. We are trying to entertain it.”. And entertain the world they did. If only the same could have been said about the games. Well at least there is one hip-hop, samurai anime that is left untainted. Samurai Champloo… OH NO!