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Last checked: June 15, 2015
Afro Samurai (アフロサムライ, Afuro Samurai), also romanized AFRO SAMURAI, is a Japanese seinen dōjinshi manga series written and illustrated by manga artist Takashi Okazaki. It was originally serialized at a random frequency in the avant-garde dōjinshi manga magazine Nou Nou Hau from September 1999 to May 2000. Inspired by Takashi Okazaki's love of soul and hip hop music, Afro Samurai follows the life of Afro Samurai who witnessed his father (owner of the No. 1 headband) being killed by the hands of a gunslinger named Justice (owner of the No. 2 headband). As an adult, Afro sets off to avenge his father's death and kill Justice.
The Afro Samurai dōjinshi was adapted into a 5-episode anime TV series by studio Gonzo in 2007. The same studio also went on to produce a made-for-TV movie sequel entitled Afro Samurai: Resurrection in 2009, which gained two Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation, which it won, and Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or More), which it lost. After the release of the anime series, Takashi Okazaki remade the original Afro Samurai dōjinshi into a two-volume manga. To be only released in North America, Tor Books and Seven Seas Entertainment licensed the title and published it under their new Tor/Seven Seas imprint.
In addition to the success of the anime series, Afro Samurai has also been adapted into a video game and an upcoming live-action feature film. For the TV series and the film, two soundtracks by the RZA of Wu-Tang Clan have been released as well as a profile book in Japan.
In a futuristic yet feudal Japan, it is said that the one who becomes "No. 1" will rule the world, wielding powers akin to a god. Someone becomes No. 1 by killing the previous No. 1 and taking his ceremonial headband. The only rule is that only the No. 2 (also designated by a sacred headband) is allowed to challenge the No. 1. In contrast, the No. 2 can be challenged by anyone (and typically everyone). Due to this, few people ever reach the mountain where No. 1 waits because the No. 2 headband is constantly changing owners.
Rokutaro, the owner of the No. 1 headband, goes to fight a gunslinger named Justice, the owner of the No. 2 headband. The two cross swords and it ends with Justice decapitating Rokutaro and claming his headband. Rokutaro's head rolls in front of his son, a young boy named Afro, as he sobs and vows revenge. Now an adult, Afro Samurai is the current No. 2 and a master swordsman. He travels Japan trying to make his way to the mountain-top keep where Justice awaits. As he makes his way to Justice, he recalls his journey from a frightened young boy to a master samurai. Along the way, many people challenge Afro for his headband including the "Empty Seven Clan" who send various agents, including a robotic Afro, to kill him throughout his travels. He is also being hunted by his vengeful childhood friend Jinno, who was long thought to be dead. Afro eventually defeats his enemies, Jinno, and confronts Justice, whom he defeats and takes the No. 1 headband.
Afro resides to live in the mountains once again when Jinno, adorned with every headband in existence, confronts Afro for the No. 1 and his revenge.