Netflix has released a new featurette in which the creators of Yasuke break down what went into making a series about the Black samurai.
Subtitled "East Meets West," the video features clips and interviews with the people behind the scenes of Yasuke, discussing how such a unique project came together. "Nationalities and languages are irrelevant. You can work with any creators," declared Manabu Otsuka, CEO of MAPPA, the animation studio behind Yasuke. "I thought that I would be able to see what type of animation could be enjoyed by an international audience. I saw that as a fascinating opportunity, and took this task."
Series creator and director LeSean Thomas said "It wasn't until we started actually working with MAPPA that concept of East meets West really, really came to play."
"We recorded English voices first," Otsuka continued. "Then we created a video to match the lip movements." CGI director Fuminori Nomoto explained that the process was "Quite challenging. I noticed that the director saw the details that the Japanese usually don't see. Several different races appear in this anime."
Chief among the English voice actors is LaKeith Stanfield as the eponymous samurai. Stanfield talked about his role in the featurette, saying "Yasuke is an old warrior, a samurai, who had seen a lot of battle. [He] decided 'Now I want to settle down,' but he has to reawaken himself when he's called into action again. But now it's not so much about the fighting and the bravado, it's more about surpassing his own expectations internally."
On becoming involved with project, Stanfield said "I want to get into voice acting more, and once I saw the talented people involved, it was easy for me." He concluded, "It was such a different beast than acting on the screen."
Thomas closes by saying, "I feel like the stuff that I make is essentially gateway anime. Projects like this allow the audience that is not familiar with it but curious about it to lean in and [say] 'What's this about? I'm not really into anime but LaKeith is playing a Black samurai. I want to check that out.'"
Created by LeSean Thomas, Yasuke stars LaKeith Stanfield as Yasuke, Takehiro Hira as Nobunaga, Maya Tanida as Saki, Ming-Na Wen as Natsumaru, Paul Nakauchi as Morisuke, Darren Criss as Haruto, Julie Marcus as Nikita and William Christopher Stephens as Achoja. The series is out now on Netflix.