Season 1 Episode 1
When her young daughter is stricken by a mysterious malady, Ichika asks Yasuke to bring them upriver to a special doctor, but Yasuke refuses.
From the opening sequence, you know that there are going to be a lot of different elements to this series. The opening sequence is filled with mechs, magic and war and I was immediately drawn into the beauty of the characters and the animation. Everything is gorgeously detailed and the violent, bloody nature of the series lets you know it is not for kids.
In the midst of the final battle against the Daimyo, lord Nobunaga knows defeat is at hand and implores his loyal samurai Yasuke to perform a final rite for him. It is a tense scene and definitely informs the character and his motivations going forward.
Twenty years later, Yasuke is known as the black boatsman Yassan. Still haunted by his past, he hides who he really is and makes his living in a small village keeping a wall up between himself and the villagers including the young boy Ichiro who wants to be trained by him. When he is approached by a local singer named Ichika who needs his help, he initially refuses to help her transport her sick daughter to a local doctor.
The young girl, named Saki, is exhibiting strange powers and her power attacks the attention of a group of mercenaries charged with bringing her to a powerful foreigner. As the plot moves along, we see flashbacks to Yasuke’s past including how he came to be trained as a samurai. It’s a great sequence that illustrates the beauty of the animation as well as the subtlety of the performances. Nothing is overdone and the episode hits the right notes as far as tone and pacing.
The first episode of Yasuke is engaging. You are drawn in by the character and his struggles. The larger story around him is also compelling as it delivers on the trope of the man looking for peace, but being drawn back into war. I’m excited to see what directions this series takes.