On the back of an Oscar nomination for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah, LaKeith Stanfield finds himself playing the eponymous character, Yasuke, a black Samurai in ancient Japan. The empire is under attack from various forces—diabolical, scientific, and political. The fate of the empire rests in the hands of a former black slave turned samurai. Yasuke is set to be released on Netflix.
The trailer opens at a seaside where a trader is marketing goods to customers. Nearby, a scuffle ensues between a bully and Yasuke, a black man, who is defending a child. The fight ends quickly, in Yasuke’s favour. The inscription, “Netflix Original Anime Series” appears on screen. The next scenes show Yasuke as an actual samurai warrior, slicing his way through a number of enemies in a very bloody scene. Finally, a noble lady demands the name of “the samurai that was once a servant.” He replies with his name and she pledges her respect to him.
There is the question of acceptance posed within the trailer. Noblemen discuss amongst one another whether Yasuke is one of them and they seem confident that he won’t be accepted by the people. At this point, the villain is introduced and a new element is added to the mix; magic. The world crumbles around Yasuke as his master loses everything and demands that Yasuke kill him with his honour still intact.
The following scenes suggest that some time has passed after that incident, and Yasuke went into self-exile. He has grown out his hair into dreads and his beard is full. Yet again, another element of magic is added. A woman beseeches Yasuke to help her ailing daughter upstream where she’d be cured of her ailment. This child, however, is a special child with powerful magical powers coveted by powerful dark forces. It becomes Yasuke’s duty to protect this child from the bullies of the world as he protected that younger child earlier in the trailer. The action-packed closing sequences of the trailer find Yasuke battling these forces and that singeing declaration by an enemy of his is presented: “You will always be a servant, no matter what armour you wear.” To which Yasuke ripostes violently, first swinging his blade then throwing it at his opponent, and declares, “I serve no man.”
The series creator is LeSean Thomas, who worked on The Boondocks. Yasuke will be available on Netflix from April 29.