The show will follow Yasuke, believed to be the first Black man to enter Japan nearly 500 years ago. Set in an alternate, fantastical version of the country, Yasuke is called back to his samurai lifestyle "in order to protect a mysterious girl from the dark forces,” per Netflix.
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Other characters, all designed by Takeshi Koike (pictured above), will be voiced by actors including Takehiro Hira, Maya Tanida, Ming-Na Wen, Gwendoline Yeo, Paul Nakauchi, Dia Frampton, Darren Criss, and Amy Hill in the series’ English version.
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Thomas, who also serves as the series’ director, writer, and executive producer, first pitched Yasuke to Netflix in 2017. He told High Snobiety that he purposefully chose the “classic redemption hero story arc” to ease new audiences into the genre.
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“I wanted to show Yasuke being a bad-ass, being dope, and inspiring as a character," added the series' composer Flying Lotus. "Yes, he's had a traumatic life, but I didn't want to dwell on certain things that we see so much in Black cinema and Black culture.”
As for what sets Yasuke apart from other shows US viewers watch, Thomas explained, “I think a lot of American anime fans tend to watch children's shows... Those shows are usually for kids, and the storylines tend to be spelled out the way the comic books are spelled out.”