Famed Japanese daimyo Oda Nobunaga has taken on a lot of different forms in anime. From an attractive woman, a Pokémon trainer, and even a Shiba Inu, there’s nowhere Nobunaga hasn’t shown up in some shape or form. However, Nobunaga’s most famous role is in fact one where he’s greatly overshadowed by his own actions: by allowing the African retainer of an Italian missionary to become a samurai.
Very little is known about the retainer-turned-samurai Yasuke, and so far all inroads into research on his life before, during, and after becoming part of Oda Nobunaga’s service have been largely based on theory, as there’s a lack of concrete historical documentation. What we do know based on history can be summed up in these few bullet points:
- Yasuke came to Japan in 1579, as a retainer for an Italian Jesuit missionary.
- He entered Nobunaga’s service at an unknown date and was present for at least two battles; the Battle of Tenmokuzan and the Honno-Ji Incident; at which time Nobunaga committed suicide.
- He then attempted to aid Nobunaga’s son Oda Nobutada in removing the invading army led by general Akechi Mitsuhide, but failed and was captured. There are reports he was spared by Mitsuhide, but these have never been corroborated.
While upcoming Netflix anime Yasuke may not be heading into unraveling any of the historical mysteries surrounding the only known Black samurai, it still looks like it’ll be a lot of fun either way. Spearheaded by LeSean Thomas (The Boondocks, Cannon Busters), and animated by studio MAPPA (Yuri!!! on Ice, Attack on Titan, Kakegurui) the story of Yasuke will take a more fantasy-based angle, where mechs and magic take center stage alongside warring daimyo and mysterious children. Yasuke will be voiced by Lakeith Stanfield.
The series’ first season will contain six episodes and will debut worldwide on Netflix, on April 29th.