Netflix’s Yasuke Season 2 anime could continue the story of the Black Samurai with its bewildering mixture of Jidaigeki fantasy, giant mecha, and supernatural ronin warriors.
After all, Yasuke’s history is an open book in real life after he left the service of Oda Nobunaga. Director Thomas LeSean Thomas has already mentioned “multiple adventures” and stated that “it would be great” to do a second season.
What’s more, executive producer Flying Lotus tweeted, “We hope these 6 episodes would serve as an introduction to this world and get you hype for more. We have big plans for Yasuke. It’s just the beginning.”
“The enthusiasm for the show is crazy. All the feedback in both directions boils down to one thing. Y’all want more”, Flying Lotus added. “I wanted to see at least 10-12 eps for this season. I’m game for more, though.”
But when will Yasuke Episode 7 come out?
The Yasuke anime is being produced by animation studio MAPPA, the studio that has given us anime such as Garo, Punch Line, Yuri On Ice, Kakegurui, Inuyashiki, Banana Fish, Zombie Land Saga, Dororo, and Dorohedoro.
In 2021, MAPPA released Zombieland Saga Season 2, Attack On Titan Season 4 (Attack On Titan Season 4 Part 2 release date is confirmed for 2022), Jujutsu Kaisen (a Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie is confirmed), and they’re working on the Chainsaw Man anime.
The anime project is being helmed by executive producer and director LeSean Thomas, whose previous work includes notables like Cannon Busters, The Boondocks, The Legend of Korra, and Black Dynamite. The Yasuke anime will be the director’s second collaboration with Netflix.
As the creator of the Yasuke anime, Thomas says he first heard about the historical figure Yasuke about 12 years ago.
“I got a hold of PDFs, files, and images online about a children’s book called Kurosuke. It was my first time seeing, you know, a really cool illustrated children’s book about the story of a foreign Samurai who helped Nobunaga during the whole regime,” Thomas told Anime News Network in an interview. “And I found out that that foreign Samurai was Black, and I was like, ‘This is kinda cool! There’s a Japanese creator being influenced…telling this kind of story…is this a story that Japanese children read? Do they know about this book?’ because it was a children’s book and I thought it was fascinating.”
In recent years, when Thomas started working with Netflix he was developing the idea of an action-adventure, Jidaigeki, fantasy adventure series that used Yasuke. He refined the idea and brought other talents like Fly-Lo (Flying Lotus) on board.
Flying Lotus is credited as both an executive producer and the music composer. Thomas told Polygon that he pitched the Yasuke idea in 2017 to Taiki Sakurai, chief producer of anime at Netflix Japan, and he convinced MAPPA CEO Manabu Otsuka to bring Takeshi Koike onto the project.
“[Koike] jumped on it because he thought it was a really interesting take, a fascinating story, and it was a part of Japanese history that he didn’t really know about either,” Thomas explained in the interview.
Koike (Dororo OP, Redline writer, Afro Samurai pilot) is the main character designer, providing “over 200 illustrations and character designs”, while Kenichi Shima (Parasyte -the maxim-) is the sub-character designer.
Satoshi Iwataki (A Certain Magical Index, Dororo) is the chief animation director, while Yuki Nomoto (Dorohedoro) is the 3D CG director. Junichi Higashi (Cowboy Bebop, Kingdom) is the art director.
Nick Jones Jr. (Samurai 7, Rambo) was the lead writer for the series.
Here is the Yasuke English dub voice cast:
- 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
- William Christopher Stephens as Achoja
- Dia Frampton as Ishikawa
- Don Donahue as Abraham
- Amy Hill as Daimyo
- Noshi Dalal as Kurosaka (Dark General)
The Yasuke Season 1 release date was on April 29, 2021.
- Updated June 24, 2021: Yasuke manga announced.
- Updated May 3, 2021: Added comments from Flying Lotus regarding Yasuke Season 2 and the history of real-life Yasuke.
This article provides everything that is known about Netflix’s Yasuke Season 2 and all related news. As such, this article will be updated over time with news, rumors, and analysis. Meanwhile, let’s delve down into what is known for certain.
Yasuke manga released in 2021
In June 2021, it was announced by Shogakukan’s Monthly Big Comic Spirits manga magazine that the anime would receive a Yasuke manga adaptation. The monthly magazine will release the first chapter on July 27, 2021.
The Yasuke manga will be drawn by artist Satoshi Okunishi.
Netflix Yasuke Season 2 release date predictions: Yasuke sequel likely to be renewed
As of the last update, Netflix, Studio MAPPA, or any company related to the production of the anime has not officially confirmed the Yasuke Season 2 release date. Nor has the production of a Yasuke sequel been announced.
Once the news is officially confirmed this article will be updated with the relevant information.
In the meantime, it’s possible to speculate about when, or if, the Yasuke 2 premiere date will occur in the future.
The good news is that the first season made it onto the Netflix Top 10 list shortly after premiering. Netflix has a history of renewing its anime exclusives fairly quickly than the standards anime fans are used to from the Japanese animation industry.
The Seven Deadly Sins Season 5, Ultraman Season 2, Grappler Baki Season 4 (Baki: Son of Ogre), and Aggretsuko Season 4 were all confirmed in production shortly after their respective previous seasons were released.
But it’s not like being on Netflix signifies an automatic renewal. Netflix’s Children of the Whales Season 2 and Netflix’s Kakegurui Season 3 were never announced. Anime fans are still waiting on Netflix’s 7 SEEDS Season 3 to finish the manga’s story. Even LeSean Thomas’ Cannon Busters Season 2 was never announced.
Yasuke Season 2 could be different based on how the story was designed. Similar to Netflix’s Castlevania anime series, Netflix’s Yasuke Season 1 is essentially the length of a 3-hour movie since the first season is only six episodes.
The basic premise was that the Black Samurai takes a little girl with mysterious powers under his wing and transports her to a doctor while bloodthirsty warlords target her.
The first season featured a big climax that provided resolution for multiple story arcs. The Dark General Mitsuhide is killed and the spider-like Honjo Daimyo defeated. Saki is reunited with her friend who becomes her new family. Yasuke makes his peace with Natsumaru’s family after harboring guilt for 20 years.
While the story ends with complete closure it also left an open door for more stories to be told with the after-credits scene. Yasuke is shown to traveling while carrying a new sword with Ichika’s necklace hanging from its hilt, which signifies a new beginning for the Black Samurai now that his past is behind him.
The fact that the ending seemed to be teasing more isn’t surprising. Before the premiere, director Thomas stated in an interview that he planned the franchise out with “multiple adventures” in mind.
“We wanted to create a new hero that no one had a stake in because there’s no estate who owns Yasuke as a historical figure. That would allow us to create someone who’s unique to tell multiple adventures with, potentially. It was very, very intentional and self-aware,” the director said.
Comicbook.com directly asked the director about his plans for Yasuke Season 2 and Thomas replied, “I can’t say too much, but the response has been really great and it would be great to become more than what it is. I’m just really excited for the fans digging into this, and then we’ll see. Obviously, it would be great to have a big splash and then keep things going.”
At the same time, the director also made it clear that he’s more into making “adult limited series”, which is what he watched as a child.
“I was never a fan of long-running anime in shonen. That stuff was kids stuff for me,” he said.
The good news is that Yasuke Episode 6 definitely left the door open for Yasuke Season 2. But is history any guide to what we might expect next?
Yasuke: History of the Black Samurai
History buffs who simply want to see Yasuke’s story adapted as historical fiction will probably need to wait until a Yasuke live-action movie is made.
“I think there are some people want to see Yasuke’s “true” historical story but I think that would work better for live-action,” Flying Lotus wrote on Twitter. “Chadwick Boseman passed before they could get that version made. They will hopefully make it at some point though.”
Part of the appeal about the Yasuke anime is that it extends the story of the historical figure way beyond what is known. Obviously, the giant mechs and supernatural magic aren’t part of history, but the anime’s story begins where history essentially ends.
The short version is that Yasuke was an African servant who was brought to Japan by Jesuit trader Alessandro Valignano in 1579. Yasuke served under real-life Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga as the only known Black Samurai.
“On [March 23, 1581], a black page came from the Christian countries. The man was healthy with a good demeanor, and Nobunaga praised Yasuke’s strength. Nobunaga’s nephew gave him a sum of money at this first meeting,” stated the historical account, Lord Nobunaga Chronicle.
What’s unknown is Yasuke’s origins. Like in the anime, Nobunaga gave Yasuke his name, but the long name that Yasuke himself stated was fictional. History doesn’t record Yasuke’s name before this incident, although history does provide a glimpse.
In 1627, Francois Solier of the Society of Jesus wrote that Yasuke was from Mozambique, which makes sense since the East African nation was under Portuguese control at the time.
However, there are multiple competing theories about his earlier life. Some claim Yasuke was really a Makua named Yasufe, or from the Yao people or the Dinka of South Sudan, while others like Thomas Lockley claimed Yasuke might be from Ethiopia.
“But they’re all still theories. No one knows what his real name is. No one knows where he came from. No one knows how old he was. No one can confirm how actually tall he was, what his day-to-day life was, what languages he spoke, and what was his accent,” director Thomas explained. “If he’s Jesuit and then he’s speaking Japanese, well what were his languages, from whatever country in Africa he’s from, which no one can confirm. Some say Mozambique, others say Sudan, some say Egypt.”
Notably, the anime chose to say that he was from the Yao people, a group of Southeast Africans who live in modern Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It’s possible that Nobunaga came up with the name Yasuke by combining the sound of Yao with the common Japanese male name suffix “suke”, thus his new name was essentially Yao-suke.
The idea that Nobunaga demanded that Yasuke be washed and cleaned is accurate. Historically, when Nobunaga first saw Yasuke, the Japanese Daimyo wrongly thought the black man’s skin must be colored by ink and demanded that he strip and scrub his skin.
Realizing that Yasuke’s skin was indeed black, Nobunaga took an interest in the African man. Nobunaga was also impressed by Yasuke’s stature, with history recording his height at 6-feet-2-inches.
It’s unclear when Yasuke entered Nobunaga’s service, but he was assigned the duty of weapon bearer and given a short, ceremonial katana. Yasuke became fluent in the Japanese language (or was taught by the Jesuits) and quickly rose through the ranks of the warrior class, earning the rank of Samurai in 1581.
Yasuke became one of Nobunaga’s trusted servants, riding into battle alongside him. The Black Samurai was even given the privilege of dining with his lord, which was an honor reserved for a limited few.
The idea that religion was part of the conflict was a theme not overly developed by the anime. While the anime featured a wicked mutant priest wanting to use Saki’s powers in Europe, in reality, Nobunaga destroyed monasteries belonging to the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism after dissolving the Ashikaga Shogunate in 1573.
The Ikkou sect was very religious and opposed Nobunaga’s attempts to unify the country. Nobunaga fought against the Ikkou for years and reduced the power and influence that the Buddhist temples held on politics and economics.
Nobunaga even protected the Christian Jesuit missionaries and assisted them in building a church in the capital. Nobunaga wasn’t a Christian believer but he had a keen interest in European culture and by encouraging the spread of Christianity in Japan he further reduced the political influence of the Buddhist temples.
Yasuke was part of Nobunaga’s forces for a fairly short time since Nobunaga was defeated by the traitorous samurai general Akechi Mitsuhide’s army on June 21, 1582. When Nobunaga visited Honno-ji temple in Kyoto for a weekend Akechi took advantage and staged a coup. Like in the anime, Nobunaga was forced to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide.
During these events, Yasuke valiantly fought back against Akechi’s forces. After Nobunaga’s death, Yasuke joined Nobunaga’s son Oda Nobutada at Nijou Castle and attempted to rally a defense. When the outnumbered Oda forces were defeated, Nobutada committed seppuku like his father, and Yasuke was captured.
One of the major themes of the anime was the racism of General Mitsuhide, who clung to the “old ways”. This antagonism was presented as a major source of conflict and the reason why the general turned traitor against his lord.
History doesn’t provide such insight. We do know that Mitsuhide was actually the reason Yasuke survived his lord’s demise.
When the captured Black Samurai was presented to Mitsuhide, it’s uncertain why the general allowed Yasuke to live, but we do know Mitsuhide made the decision.
Some accounts say Yasuke surrendered his sword rather than commit seppuku like the Japanese. Some historians believe Akechi was concerned that executing Yasuke would harm diplomatic relations with the Jesuits. Some say the general simply took pity, while some claim the general allegedly said that since Yasuke was an “animal” and also not Japanese that Yasuke should not be killed.
Whatever the truth may be, what’s known for certain is that the general had Yasuke taken to a Jesuit mission in Kyoto. At this point, history becomes unclear since there are no further written accounts of Yasuke’s fate since this turbulent period in Japanese history is poorly documented.
Little is known about Yasuke’s life after being a Samurai, but it’s believed he may have returned to service under the Jesuits. We don’t even know the year Yasuke died, so the rest of his story is an open book.
And that’s where director LeSean Thomas chose to pick up the story. 20 years after the violent end of Nobunaga’s reign, Yasuke abandons the sword and assumes a new life as a reclusive ferryman.
The director used the history of that time period in creating the Black character Achoja, a shaman from the Benin Kingdom, which is now Southern Nigeria. Introducing Achoja was based on the motif that Yasuke was “not the only Black in Japan.”
“At that time period in 1602 the Benin Kingdom was, I believe, at the height of its powers. We introduced Achoja because we wanted to play around with the idea that in Yasuke’s time in his story he was the only Black character, but just 20 years later, there are far more foreigners coming in,” Thomas explained.
“In 1602, the Nanban trade was nearing its end, Japan was about to go into isolation at the beginning of the Edo era, the Battle of Sekigahara had already happened with Tokugawa having defeated Toyotomi, and now Tokugawa rules all of Japan.”
The director said he wanted to wanted to introduce the idea of foreigners coming to Japan during the Nanban trade period, between the mid-1500s all the way to the early 1600s. Africans traveling to Japan with the Jesuits was a regular occurrence during this time period.
“I mean, it was actually encouraged at a certain point where you bring Africans with you on your ships when you arrive for trade, import, export, or whatever, because it made you more valuable,” director Thomas said.
“So this idea that Yasuke was the only Black guy in Japan is not true — there were tons of Africans arriving as servants, as crewmen, and so on. When you look at a lot of the old Ukiyo-e paintings of the Nanban trade online, you’ll find portrayals of Black men everywhere, just all over those Japanese paintings. So they were around, but for the sake of the story, we wanted to play with that idea of Achoja as the Black guy foil to Yasuke.”
Yasuke Season 2 would take place some time after the year 1602. This was a transition time between the Azuchi–Momoyama period and the peaceful Edo period. The Warring States Era (Sengoku period) ended in 1615, so there are plenty of conflicts left to entangle Yasuke.
Nobunaga’s successor was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who died in 1598. His son, Toyotomi Hideyori, was young and Hideyoshi’s five regents began jockeying for power. In 1600, the feudal system was re-established under the Tokugawa Shogunate after regent Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated the others at the Battle of Sekigahara.
During these years, Hideyori becomes a young daimyo living in Osaka castle. The samurai who believed Hideyori was the rightful rule of Japan rallied around the young daimyo.
Thus, Yasuke’s new adventures will take in this turbulent time when the Toyotomi clan is in conflict with the Tokugawa Shogunate.
While history is silent on what happened to Yasuke next, let’s just hope that Netflix’s Yasuke Season 2 anime TV series is renewed for multiple adventures. Stay tuned!