LaKeith Stanfield has signed on to lead the voice cast of Yasuke, a new Netflix anime series in which Stanfield portrays the first African samurai of the same name. The actor is not new to voice acting in an animated series as he secured the role of Guy on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman in 2014.
Set in war-torn feudal Japan and accompanied with mechs and magic, Yasuke will account the real story of the first Black samurai. According to BBC, many historians say that he was from Mozambique and later traveled to Japan as a part of a “Jesuit missionary entourage.” The Netflix series will follow Yasuke’s struggles to maintain a peaceful living after a lifetime of violence. The warrior is thrown back into battle when a local village becomes the epicenter of war and becomes tasked with transporting a mysterious child who’s targeted by dark forces.
This highly anticipated anime series features a brilliant cast and crew starring LaKeith Stanfield and directed by animation veteran LeSean Thomas, who co-created the iconic socio-political Black comedy, The Boondocks. In addition to these important animated series, he’s also the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of another Netflix original anime known as Cannon Busters. LeSean is certainly securing the animation bag.
Music will be provided by renown music producer The Flying Lotus. The Grammy Award-nominee has created music for Adult Swim, in addition to working with artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu. He’s no stranger to anime, having written the soundtrack for the short film Blade Runner Black Out 2022 in addition to contributing music to Carole and Tuesday.
Flying Lotus shares his excitement for Yasuke in 2018 via Twitter:
YASUKE is gonna be great, we are working with one of the top anime studios in the world to bring this crazy story to life. So proud to be part of it and glad to finally share the news thats been brewing for almost a year now @netflix
— FLYLO (@flyinglotus) November 8, 2018
— FLYLO (@flyinglotus) October 27, 2020
All three masterful creatives are credited as executive producers for the show. Character designs were created by Takeshi Koike while animation production will come from MAPPA, which worked on Netflix’s popular animated series Attack on Titan: The Final Season.
Netflix makes obvious moves to become a streaming destination for anime. According to the company, more than 100 million households around the world watched at least one anime title on Netflix between October 2019 and September 2020. Anime titles also appeared on the platform’s Top 10 list in almost 100 countries in 2020.
Anime fans, celebrity friends and supporters of the cast and crew show their excitement for this historic project on social media even defending the first African samurai’s actual existence. While some people are somehow arguing the series cultural appropriation.
Not the whiteys thinking yasuke isn’t a real person and trying to jump on the “ but this is cultural appropriation isn’t it??????” train. Y’all are really mouth breathers https://t.co/j03UshO6Fn
— Sy D. Loc Don // sogeking stan (@SyTheLocDon) October 27, 2020
Yasuke was a real guy lmao https://t.co/rtTD4U5fuI
— Neo (@NeoWokio) October 27, 2020
Hopefully with this new animated series, more people will educate themselves on the riveting story of the first Black samurai. Yasuke is set to release in 2021 on Netflix.
Update (April 2, 2021): The Netflix original animated series, Yasuke, gets an official teaser ahead of its’ April 29th release date. Watch the latest teaser clip below.