Netflix Anime Series Yasuke Centers on the First Black Samurai

My father is a man of history. Lemme rephrase that. My father is a man of Black history. All thangs Black. African American, African, Indigenous, Aboriginal, etc. He is bout that Blackness. I say this because I remember being in college and playing the video game Samurai Warriors back in 2004.

In that game, you got to play through famous samurais and legends of Japan. I must have mentioned this to my Dad over a call and he told me that there was once a Black samurai. This real-life samurai served under Nobunaga Oda in the 1500s.

Dad told me the tale of how the Black samurai came to Japan and stunned the people with his dark skin. Lord Nobunaga had the samurai bathed, believing his skin was painted. Seeing that it wasn’t, Lord Nobunaga took this man, Yasuke (some believe his original name was Yusef) out of slavery and trained him as a samurai.

It was so wild to hear that story 17 years ago. Now, Netflix’s Yasuke, an anime series about this same Black samurai is coming April 29th.


In the trailer, we see Yasuke serving under Nobunaga as a samurai and the issues that come with being a Black samurai. Also, let it be known that Lord Nobunaga Oda was the Samuel L. Jackson of lords. Mans was about that action. He often gets painted as the bad guy in a lot of lore when all he was doing was trying to unify Japan, same as others. Anyhow, all of Nobunaga’s folks betray him (I know the mutha fucka that did it too but I’ll keep quiet) except for Yasuke.

Yasuke is now out of the samurai gang. Mans put the sword down and is just trying to live his best life and keep that racism toward him at a casual level of manageability. That’s too bad tho Yasuke – cause this is anime, baby. Ain’t gonna be no peace for you. We got a supernatural element taking place in this tale, pushing Yasuke to pick the sword back up on some Man on Fire/The Golden Child shit to protect a very special kid somehow connected to it.

Lakeith Stanfield voices Yasuke in this anime. Lakeith got a real calm demeanor for Yasuke. But when that samurai armour gets put on and the sword is back in hand like it never left? Lord. Yasuke out here getting fucking busy. Be clear. Yasuke wasn’t just a samurai in name only or an honorary samurai. No, mans was really out here in the field getting busy with the katana for a number of years in real life. So, seeing this man cutting the census down and raising the murder rate is actual factual happenings. It’s as we say in the media biz, the real rap raw. No chaser.

Y’all wanna see a Black man in an anime getting busy? Putting men, demons, and whoever is trying to step to the gawd, six-feet deep? Then I suggest checking out Yasuke on Netflix. I’m fucking here for it.


Add Wiretap to Chrome to post your comments and reactions along with Omar while watching Netflix’s Yasuke on your laptop or desktop, beginning April 29, 2021.

Images Courtesy of Netflix

Omar Holmon

Omar Holmon is a prolific poet, co-founder of Black Nerd Problems, and Wiretap user.

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