Netflix’s ‘Yasuke’ series to receive manga adaptation

An adaptation of Netflix’s Yasuke, made by LeSean Thomas, will debut on 27 July on the pages of Monthly Spirits magazine in Japan. Yasuke is an anime about the legendary black samurai and will be made into a manga in the last week of July.

Following Flying Lotus‘ tweet teasing that it’s only just the beginning for Yasuke, the series is now getting a manga adaptation by young author Satoshi Okunishi featuring new plot lines.

The series’ protagonist is based on the historical figure of Yasuke, a samurai of African origin who served under Oda Nobunaga, a man regarded as Japan’s first ‘great unifier’ during the warring states period in the 16th century.

Netflix describes Yasuke’s plotline as: In a war-torn feudal Japan filled with mechs and magic, the greatest ronin ever 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. The story of Yasuke, the first African samurai who actually served the legendary Oda Nobunaga, will be released to the world.

Okunishi, who is also known for other titles like A Certain Magical Index and Dororo, is the chief animation director of Yasuke. He also worked with Takeru Sato, who served as the chief technical director. LeSean Thomas (better known for his work on The Boondocks) is the creator and director. Yasuke is animated by renowned Japanese animation studio MAPPA (responsible for titles like Attack on Titan Season 4, Yuri on Ice, and Kakegurui) and executive-produced by Emmy Award-winning artist Flying Lotus. 

The 37-year-old Steven Ellison, who is famous by his stage name Flying Lotus said, “I think that just the mere existence of Yasuke is the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard. Just the fact that this isn’t just some character, but this is a person who actually existed and is very much a part of history.” He describes his emotional connection to the story of Yasuke, both in his feelings as an outsider and as a Black man. “I’m used to being an outsider all the time. When I travel to Europe and there’s no Black people; when I go to Japan, we’re the only Black people in who-knows-what distance.”

The anime itself has become a big name within the Black anime community, as it is one of the few titles to have a black character be the protagonist. 

Yasuke is now streaming on Netflix, and the new manga will be released on 27 July in the next issue of Shogakukan’s Monthly Spirits magazine.

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