The Shame About Afro Samurai is The Boondocks Did It Better

I finally finished Afro Samurai, and it was good fun—but it should’ve been great fun. The series is at once a throwback to ridiculously violent 80s and 90s OVAs/old samurai flicks, and a shout-out to the black community who dubbed such films “wu-tang.” (Notably, the RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan did the music for Afro Samurai.) I’m all for blacksploitation and turbo-violence, especially if it involves high-budget animation and Samuel L. Jackson, but the trouble with Afro Samurai is just that it’s not very well thought-out.

The plot isn’t supposed to be deep, the acting isn’t supposed to be good, and the action is only supposed to be violent, but that doesn’t mean it can’t go further. The best stylistic throwbacks are the kind by the likes of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, which have so much love and thought put into them to make them something special. It’s not just about being a samurai blacksploitation film, but about being a damn fucking good one.

A lot of my readers probably haven’t seen the American cartoon The Boondocks, which is a show that covers every aspect of black culture at one point or another in a hilarious and always entertaining light. Being as series creator Aaron McGruder is an anime fan, it’s hardly a surprise that anime styles frequently find their way into the series, both in character design (a lot of the women look like Street Fighter characters) and in the awesome fight scenes. It’s also worth mentioning that Madhouse worked on the show, though supposedly they didn’t handle most of the fight scenes.

The Boondocks is always well thought-out and thorough, and it shows especially in the action scenes, which are brilliantly choreographed and directed, as well as chock full of references (see above video). For all of its quality of art, Afro Samurai usually falls flat in its action scenes, which pretty much lack choreography and direction altogether, only held up by some cool moments of turbo-violence.

Compare this blatant send-out to chanbara flicks in The Boondocks to a fight from Afro Samurai:

This is one of the best action scenes in the OVA, and while no doubt it looks better than the scene from The Boondocks, I found it less entertaining as a fight because it’s nothing but a showcase of gore (and don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against gore at all). I even like the music more in the scenes from The Boondocks. It’s just a shame that Afro Samurai didn’t combine those good looks with the care that a great send-up should have.

Now check out this crazy ass fuckin’ John Woo shit.

(BTW fun fact: Teenage Afro and several other characters in the show were played by Phil LaMarr, one of those voice actors who’s in half the shows on Cartoon Network. He was also Marvin in Pulp Fiction, a friend of Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) who Vincent (John Travolta) accidentally shoots in the face. I wonder if this is the first time LaMarr and Jackson have been in something together since?)

(And here’s a re-enactment of Jackson’s big scene in Pulp Fiction, combined with LaMarr’s car scene, in The Boondocks, with Jackson voicing the character quoting himself.)

10 thoughts on “The Shame About Afro Samurai is The Boondocks Did It Better

  1. I think Boondocks is a solid show (and yes, brilliant coreographies), but it’s so dark sometimes I end up feeling depressed after watching it..

  2. I’m just gonna go ahead and say that anything with Sameul L Jackson yelling is immediately awesome. Therefore, both shows are immediately awesome.

    Love Afro Samurai
    Love Boondocks

    For the record, I also love Wu Tang, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino (favorite director of my favorite movie [Kill Bill {used to be Pulp Fiction}]).

    Pretty much everything in this post are things I love.

  3. Hey ive seen boondocks and its super its got evrythink the arerican strees way of talking an stuff but also the violance is great

    But the boy with the swords heuy should have had more fighting secnse with a sword like in afro samurai

    PS srry my english sucks ass im from holland soo thats why

  4. To be honest, It’s not fair picking the (in my opinion) worst fight scene from Afro Samurai, and the best fight scene from The Boondocks. They’re both hilarious, great shows (The Boondocks is funnier), but apples to oranges; They were both aiming for different things in the series’, although Afro Samurai would get a better rating from me for having a more intense story, a bad ass main character, and a better setting for their fights, while The Boondocks (in its hilarious, half-way unique way) is random as hell, like the Simpsons, or any other animated, popular Fox TV series. (Except Bob’s Burgers. It’s a bad show, though.)

  5. isnt that fight from boondocks an afro samurai parody? same outift, voiceover like a lot of scenes in afro samurai & a Wu soundtrack? all seems pretty similar to me

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