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Entry updated 11 October 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese/US animated online tv series (2021). MAPPA. Created by LeSean Thomas. Directors include Takeru Satō. Written by Flying Lotus, Nick Jones Jr, Alex Larsen and LeSean Thomas. Voice cast includes Darren Criss, Dan Donohue, Amy Hill, Takehiro Hira, Kenji Kitamura, Shunsuke Kubozuka, Julie Marcus, Hiroki Nanami, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Jun Soejima, Lakeith Stanfield, William Christopher Stephens, Kiko Tamura; Rie Tanaka; Maya Tanida, Shigeru Ushiyama and Gwendoline Yeo. Six 30-minute episodes. Colour.

Japan, 1579: Yasuke (Soejima/Stanfield), the African servant of a European trader, impresses the feudal warlord Oda Nobunaga (Hira), who persuades him to become a samurai in his service. Nobunaga nearly succeeds in unifying Japan, but in 1582 a betrayal drives him to commit seppuku, with Yasuke present. The above is history, save that Yasuke was originally a servant or slave of a Jesuit missionary. Little is known of the real Yasuke's life after Nobunaga's death.

We cut to twenty years later. Yasuke is now a peaceful ferryman – until he agrees to help a young woman, Ichika (Tanaka/Yeo), take her sickly adopted daughter Saki (Tamura/ Tanida) into the war-torn north, where there is a doctor with the knowledge to treat her. They are attacked by mercenaries: Nikita (Nanami/Marcus), a Russian were-bear (see Werewolves); Achoja (Kitamura/Stephens), a Magic-wielding Benin shaman; and Haruto (Kubozuka/Criss), an AI Robot. Fortunately Saki has Psi Powers, so she and Yasuke escape, though Ichika dies. The mercenaries are employed by the Mutant Abraham (Ushiyama/Donohue), a priest who wishes to use Saki to control Europe and the Catholic church; he is an agent of Yami no Daimyō (Sakakibara/Hill) a spider-like mage who sees Saki as both a threat and – if she can absorb her powers – an opportunity. Abraham is killed by Saki, impaled with a giant Cross: Yasuke then delivers her to the doctor, who is training similarly powered youngsters. However, Daimyō's forces now arrive, comprising troops, magicians, Monsters, Mecha and giant robots: battle commences, with Yasuke's side now supported by the mercenaries. Saki and Yasuke go to confront Daimyō, eventually defeating her – Yasuke dies, but Saki's tears bring him back to life.

Primarily a fantasy, but with robots whose origins are unclear – Haruto, who provides most of the show's Humour (and also one of its saddest moments), seems to be from the future, having "Haruto Prototype 00001" printed on his chest. Though a little Clichéd, this Anime is an exciting Alternate History with an interesting story and colourful, visually interesting battle scenes. Though its brevity does not allow much depth, there is some characterization; for example we get Yasuke's backstory, including the love of his life (who also cared for him) proving to be an agent for a rival clan, the tragedy of her death always hanging over him. [SP]


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