Review: Afro Samurai: Resurrection

Afro Samurai: Resurrection is a sequel movie to Afro Samurai, which was a short, five-episode series made by Gonzo that aired in 2007. The series was notable for its take of the samurai + hip hop style and Hollywood voice talent in the form of Samuel L. Jackson and others. The story didn’t make all that much sense, but it was very well animated and gloriously violent, and that’s probably the main reason why I like the series. Resurrection works along the same lines as the predecessor, but I feel that it wasn’t as good as the series.

The story of Resurrection takes place some time after the events of the first series. After defeating Justice and avenging his father’s death, Afro (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) has gotten tired of all the killing and spends most of his days praying and making little statues. Unfortunately, Afro’s violent past catches up with him and he is dragged out of his hiding place by Jinno/Kuma (Mr. Teddy Bear Head, who Afro still hasn’t killed for some reason) and his sexy and crazy sister Sio (voiced by Lucy Liu). The siblings beat up Afro, take the No.1 Headband, and dig up the grave of Afro’s father. Sio states that she’ll revive and torture Afro’s father, and if Afro wants to stop her then he’ll have to find the No. 2 Headband and challenge her. And so Afro is forced pick up his sword once again and go on the quest to reclaim the No. 1 Headband.

Like its predecessor, Resurrection is another revenge story, but this is time is other people getting revenge on Afro rather than Afro trying to avenge his father. The revenge story makes sense since it’s a logical consequence of Afro’s ruthless revenge quest in the first series, but what doesn’t make sense is how Sio is going about on her revenge scheme. Sio states at the beginning that she’s going to revive Afro’s father Rokutaro, but what she actually did was to revive Afro’s father in order to kill Afro. Come to think of it, most of the things Sio said that she would do never happened the way she said them would, and she doesn’t really do anything in the film other than showing off her curves and trying to convince people that she is twisted. Yes, we get that you are bootylicious and out of your mind. Now can you do something else please? Jinno/Kuma isn’t much better. He looked good at the beginning where he was dragging the hapless Afro around on his bike, but after that he just faded away. All of you who are hoping for a big Afro vs. Kuma rematch will be disappointed.

Moving on from the disappointing main villains, we have our titular character Afro Samurai, who is as silent and serious as ever. He doesn’t seem to be as powerful as he was in the series, but he makes up for it with the ability to take an unbelievable amount of punishment which allows him to outlast superhuman and robotic foes. This durability is especially handy since Afro has the tendency to walk straight into traps. Resurrection also sees the return of some characters from the previous series. Brother 3 (along with Brother 1, who’s on life support thanks to Afro) makes a brief appearance, and mad scientist Dharma works for Sio. More importantly, Afro’s imaginary friend Ninja Ninja (also voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) is also back as the principle comic relief. Ninja Ninja is still as snarky as ever and he’s also probably the sanest among the main players in the story. Ninja Ninja is an important character in the series since he provides a nice foil to not only Afro but all the characters who are insane, out for revenge, or both.

Afro Samurai is of course really all about the fights. As a premier Gonzo effort, the animation of Resurrection is top-notch as expected. The fights are as violent as ever, with plenty of blood splattering and limbs flying along with lots of explosions. The final showdown was unfortunately a letdown, especially during the final moments where Gonzo suddenly decided to go for artistic style points instead of showing us what really happens. The disappointing final showdown pales in comparison to the earlier fights such as Afro vs. the current No. 2 or Afro vs. Sio’s three cyborg cronies, and I won’t even bother comparing it to the Afro vs. Afro Droid or Afro vs. Kuma fights in the series.

Afro Samurai: Resurrection follows the footsteps of the Afro Samurai series, but it’s not quite as good as the original series. Perhaps the novelty of the series has worn off, but mostly I was disappointed by the main villains and the final fight. If you didn’t like the Afro Samurai series, there’s nothing new in Resurrection that will change your opinion. Those who absolutely need a sensible story should probably stay away as well. However, if you just want to see some well-animated and very violent combat with hip-hop music playing in the background (ex you liked the series), then Afro Samurai: Resurrection fits the bill perfectly. The end of the movie suggests that another sequel might be made, so this probably won’t be the last time we hear of Afro Samurai.

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