Afro Samurai: Resurrection, on Fuji TV (Japan) / Spike (USA)
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This TV movie is a sequel to the 5-episode series Afro Samurai. My previous review doesn't mention how that show ends, but I'll tell you now: Afro kills Justice, and takes the Number One headband. As the sequel begins, Afro doesn't seem to be ruling the world or anything, as he might. He's just wandering around, but people keep trying to kill him. You'd think they'd follow the rules, and only challenge him if they had the Number Two headband, but no. They mostly want revenge for their loved ones having been killed by him, in the course of his quest to get revenge against Justice. Of course, they're no match for him. Though he does seem to at least sometimes avoid killing them, if he can help it.
Anyway, while most people are no real threat to Afro, there are those who are. He gets attacked by Jinno (who really should've been dead), and taken to a woman named Sio (Lucy Liu). She turns out to be Jinno's sister, and the two of them want revenge against Afro for people he killed who were close to them, as well as for what he did to Jinno. Sio (who is clearly crazy) takes the Number One headband, and tells Afro that she intends to resurrect his father, and torture him. (This will actually be done by Professor Dharman, a mad cyborg scientist who was working for the Empty Seven in the original series.) In spite of the fact that Sio and Jinno ignored the rules (just like everyone else), Afro is determined to find and obtain the Number Two headband once again, before challenging them.
So, of course, he sets off on a journey, followed once again by Ninja Ninja. There'll be plenty of fights, and some flashbacks to when Afro and Jinno were young men, still friends, and Sio was a young girl. (Afro was voiced in flashback by Phil LaMarr and Sio by Ariel Winter.) There's great animation and music and everything, just like the original. There's also a subplot involving a man named Shichigoro (Liam O'Brien), the keeper of Number Two, who had hidden it away, hoping for an end to violence. And Kotaro, a boy Shichigoro was looking after, the son of a friend who had been killed... Of course, the battle between Afro and Shichigoro will lead to a certain ironic situation.... Anyway, eventually Afro obtains the headband, so he can challenge Sio and Jinno, but his ultimate fight isn't with them....
Well, I think I like this story better than the original, perhaps because it's more straightforward and cohesive, or perhaps just because I watched it all at once, instead of one episode per week. Or maybe just because I had a sense of familiarity with the basic concept and characters. I dunno, though, if I do rewatch the original series (in one sitting) someday, maybe I'll like it better than I did the first time. But even if this movie is a bit better (IMHO), I still wasn't as into it as I might've liked to be. Awesome animation, though.