The comic project, Yasuke: The African Samurai, by Koji Steven Sakai and Jamie Noguchi launches today on Kickstarter! This is the first issue in a three issue series is based on the first African to visit Japan and the story of how he became a full-fledged samurai. For those that enjoy action, adventure, samurai, with a healthy dose of history, you won’t want to miss out on this series!
Sword fighting, blood, archery, gun battles, death, chivalry, backstabbing, political intrigue, vendettas. This is the world of medieval Japan, where samurais—and sometimes even ninjas—are constantly fighting each other for control of Japan.
Thanks to countless stories of their honor and heroism, the samurai are perhaps the most legendary warriors in history. However, we know very little of the most unusual samurai of all time. The man named Yasuke has a special place in Japanese history as the first and only black samurai.
Yasuke (originally Yasufe), a slave warrior originally from Mozambique, is taken by a Jesuit missionary to Japan in the late 16th century. Once warlord Oda Nobunaga lays eyes on him, he’s captivated and becomes the African slave’s new master, giving him his Japanese name, and making him a full-fledged samurai.
Nobunaga is a complicated leader—cruel and bloodthirsty in battle yet curious and open to the West. Yasuke, who has been separated from his parents since childhood, has continuously struggled to find a sense of home since being taken as a slave. Surprisingly, it’s in Japan where he feels a sense of belonging. While he feels a sense of loyalty to Nobunaga, he finds himself increasingly attracted to Nobunaga’s wife, Lady Nō, who has largely been cast aside because of her inability to conceive children.
As Nobunaga pursues his relentless campaign to unify Japan, which has been broken into various fiefdoms, people close to him, including his wife, seeks his downfall. Yasuke struggles to negotiate the changing and shifting loyalties of people around his master, and finally goes to war to protect him from turncoat Akemi Mitsuhide, who had once been a trusted general. Yasuke fails in his effort and must witness Nobunaga commit seppuku (or ritualistic suicide).
Upon his master’s death, Yasuke is free to become the hero he was always destined to be, all the while plotting revenge on the people who killed his master and friend, and trying to find a place he can call home.