screening of Afro Samurai in Santa Monica

Mark Mays tetsuwan
Wed Aug 8 05:00:04 EDT 2007

When you get to the roots of it, it's really far less interesting than you
think. I don't know that I'd agree the "gangsta" ethic is similar -- unless
you're talking about films. Yakuza films and samurai films and "hood" movies
have a similar trajectory and an emphasis on personal and in group moral
codes, not to mention the hyper masculinity and closeted male love bonding
(or not closeted, though only the samurai film has dared to come out).

The Afro Samurai series has aired on American TV on Spike TV (a network that
used to be touted as TV for guys). It was a terrible bore, a adolescent
remix of martial arts revenge films and Blaxploitation movies, unnecessarily
violent (even for a Takashi fan like me) and worst of all, corny, as if
written by a 13 year old version of Quentin Tarantino. The series *is* a
kind of cultural translation -- a White, Western view of two "foreign"
cultures young White men tend to think are cool. I don't know that this
would have been the result had things been left totally to the original
artist of the manga.

I've always been a bit skeptical of RZA's talk about the influence of East
on his West. There's a chapter in a book about the making of classic rap
records, and in the piece other Wu Tang Clan members do recall that he was
talking about incorporating the 36 Chambers stuff in the group's earliest
days. He was influenced by "samurai" in a sense that in his youth, RZA may,
like a lot of people here in the states grouped samurai with Wu xia and kung
fu/Bruce Lee. Perhaps as he became more worldly his ability to talk about
what he loved as a kid grew in depth even though the original influence was
aesthetic not so much informed by Bushido. I don't know if it's a "remix" as
much as a flattening -- taking a very specific icon and broadening the
definition (from "Japanese" to "Asian")

Samurai Champloo is the most interesting "remix" so far (the remixing goes
much further than the soundtrack) 

I could go on

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-KineJapan at
> [mailto:owner-KineJapan at] On Behalf Of
> jesty at
> Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 4:09 PM
> To: KineJapan at
> Subject: Re: screening of Afro Samurai in Santa Monica
> This is a really interesting phenomenon. The sound track for
> Ghost Dog was also done by the RZA, and I heard a fantastic
> interview with him on NPR's Fresh Air where he talks about
> how influenced he was as a youngster by kung fu films and
> the samurai mythos.
> Does anyone know more about this phenonmenon (ie. Hip Hop
> remixing of the samurai character)? I guess the gangsta and
> samurai ethic are quite similar in the end, but who else is
> doing the actual cultural translation work?
> Justin Jesty
> ---- Original message ----
> >Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 12:42:02 -0700
> >From: Anne McKnight <annekmcknight at>
> >Subject: screening of Afro Samurai in Santa Monica
> >To: KineJapan at
> >
> >   An interesting test run of the first 5 parts of the
> >   upcoming anim? series Afro Samurai--seems like
> >   ninja movie + Afro-futurism, starring Samuel L.
> >   Jackson's voice. Apparently there is a live action
> >   film in the works. Screening is being held at the
> >   Aero, the Santa Monica outpost of the American
> >   Cin?math?que, as part of their horror sci-fi
> >   series. From the Egyptian's website:
> >
> >   Sunday, August 12 ? 7:30 PM
> >
> >   Los Angeles Premiere!
> >
> >   AFRO SAMURAI, 2006, Takashi OKazaki, Gonzo/Samurai
> >   Project/FUNimation, 125 min (5 episodes). This
> >   classic samurai story, with a revolutionary
> >   animation style and hip-hop flavor, tells the tale
> >   of a black swordman set in a futuristic, yet feudal,
> >   Japan who is on a mission to avenge the wrongful
> >   death of his father. Samuel L. Jackson voices the
> >   title role of "Afro," a mysterious warrior who
> >   travels a solitary path encountering a myriad of
> >   enemies, friends and challenges beyond imagination.
> >   Renowned rap artist & producer RZA provides the
> >   original soundtrack for the series. The cast also
> >   includes Ron Perlman as "Justice," a lightning quick
> >   gunfighter, responsible for the death of Afro?s
> >   father and Kelly Hu as "Okiku," a seductively
> >   beautiful girl and healing arts expert. The concept
> >   was created by graphic designer/illustrator Takashi
> >   "Bob" Okazaki, and the series is a creative
> >   collaboration between Jackson (executive producer),
> >   Okazaki, and Japanese animation company Gonzo.
> >   Discussion following with producer Eric Calderon.
> >
> >
> Horror_SciFi_Aero_2007.htm#AFRO%20SAMURAI,

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