Lakeith Stanfield
Lakeith Stanfield (Photo: Alberto Pezzali-Pool/Getty Images)

Netflix’s latest anime tells the legendary tale of the Black Samurai and, lucky for us, LaKeith Stanfield is embodying the titular star of the show. Yasuke, created by LeSean Thomas and designed by animation studio MAPPA that brought us Attack on Titan: The Final Season, will bring to life the eponymous Black samurai whose revered legacy in feudal Japan rose to great heights during an era of political espionage and civil unrest. 

Across the six episodes of the first season,  the Judas and the Black Messiah actor will voice the servant-turned-ronin as he navigates finding peace in a local village that needs him to take up his sword to defend a mysterious child who is the target of evil forces and warlords.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the creator says this project is unique in that it isn’t the typical anime produced out of homogenous Japan. “The stuff that I tend to make I consider gateway anime,” Thomas says. “These are projects that have a combination of ingredients that you wouldn’t normally get from the Japanese industry because of the history, the regional differences, and our cultural approaches.” 

Over the years, Black anime fandom emerged in the United States as anime became a part of American culture in the 90s and, thanks to streaming giants, the popularized animation is here to stay. Prior to his death last fall, Chadwick Boseman was tapped to portray Yasuke in a historical biopic. Nodding to the fantastical elements of his adaptation of Yasuke over a “hardcore biopic,” Thomas continues, “I didn’t want to be trapped by the elements of history, so to speak, and I wanted to add a sense of fantasy, a sense of romanticism to it, much like the Japanese do with their historical figures.”

Although this is Stanfield’s first voice acting stint, his diversified portfolio (which recently scored him an Oscar nomination) leaves us assured that he’ll get the job done in his latest venture. The Netflix original anime premieres April 29.

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