Netflix’s latest trailer for Yasuke—the LeSean Thomas anime following the story of Japan’s legendary first Black samurai, arriving April 29—gives viewers a glimpse into its titular character’s origins and eventual journey to save a mysterious child.
In the two-minute trailer premiering above, the LaKeith Stanfield-voiced former servant rescues a young child from being struck down, and takes on a group of men, eventually earning his place as an esteemed samurai. The trailer features some bouncy music from Grammy-nominated super-producer Flying Lotus, as well as some bright and stunning animation courtesy of Takeshi Koike.
“There is a serendipitous nature about this project, how an African-American man goes to Japan to live and work amongst the very best in Japanese anime to create an anime about an African who goes to Japan to live amongst the Japanese elite and become a warrior,” LeSean Thomas told Complex. “Part of me deep down feels I was meant to create this adventure series with MAPPA, Flying Lotus, LaKeith, and the rest of this talented team.”
The series follows Yasuke as he attempts to stay peaceful after living through a violent past, and as he eventually must bring a mysterious child, who is wanted by dark forces and warlords, to safety. It’s inspired by the samurai Yasuke, who many believe traveled from Africa to Japan in 1579.
“Yasuke is a fascinating, mysterious figure in Japanese history that’s drawn a growing interest in today’s media over the decades. I first learned of Yasuke’s role in Japanese history over a decade or so,” Thomas said. “The children’s book Kuro-suke by Kurusu Yoshio featured images that piqued my curiosity. To eventually learn that he wasn’t just a fictional character, but a real person, was exciting material for an adventure story. I’m so excited for both longtime fans and newcomers to enjoy our reimagined take on this historical figure.”
Flying Lotus says it took him a while to figure out how he wanted to anime to sound without any guidelines, calling the process “beautiful yet frustrating.”
“You know, no one was like, ‘I had a vision for it.’ So it left me to be the deciding factor on what everything was, which was a beautiful thing, but at the same time it was kind of a daunting task, because I was like, ‘Well what does the show sound like?’ because I don’t want it to sound like anything I’ve ever done before,” FlyLo shared. “So in the end, you know, it was kind of conflicted with how much traditional Japanese elements do I want in there, how many African elements do I want in there? Is it going to be a mashup of all these ideas? Is it gonna be hip-hop? Is it gonna be samples? What’s it gonna be?”
The mastermind behind the Yasuke score says he fell in love with building sounds from synthesizers over the last year, opting to go for a direction the connoisseur of the genre hadn’t “heard much in anime.”
“So, I’m really excited about the musical side of it,” he said. “You know, it’s got so many different influences in the soundtrack and a lot of vintage, rare equipment was used to make it. It was just a fun ride, a beautiful project to work on.”
Check out the trailer for Yasuke, which will be available on Netflix on Thursday, up top.