Yasuke - new anime series set in 16th century Japan

Netflix will be debuting a new anime series later this week, which will tell the story of an African man who became a warrior in 16th century Japan.

Yasuke will premiere on April 29th with six episodes. It is a fictionalized account of the story of the real-life Yasuke, who arrived in Japan in 1579 along with a Jesuit missionary. He would soon gain the attention of Japanese officials, and become a retainer of the daimyō Oda Nobunaga. Yasuke would even take part in the Battle of Tenmokuzan in 1582.

The story of Yasuke has been retold in a variety of media in recent years. The Netflix series was created and directed by LeSean Thomas, working with the Japanese animation studio MAPPA. Thomas explains, "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."

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