A revenge story set in the 17th-century Edo-period Japan, Blue Eye Samurai is arriving on the Netflix streaming platform on November 3rd. It will be an 8-episode series. This animated project was created by a wife and husband team who were initially inspired by the birth of their daughter, who was born with blue eyes, which the wife, half-Japanese Amber Noizumi saw as a big deal. Noizumi and her husband Michael Green (writer for films such as Logan and Blade Runner 2049) would have “creative conversations” that would eventually span 15 years, as they began with spinning a tale about how times were different in 17th-century Japan if you were not completely Japanese. And at some point in the 15-year conversations, “We said something like, ‘She’s like a little blue-eyed samurai. I wrote that down, knowing it was a good title,” Green said of the inspiration their daughter gave them.
See the official trailer here:
The summary of the story is:
In 17th-century Japan, when borders are closed to the outside world, citizens would never see a face that was not Japanese, except in rare cases of illegal trade. Our hero, Mizu (Maya Erskine), knows there were only four white men in Japan at the time of her birth and sets off to kill these men, one of whom might be her father, who made her a “creature of shame.” But revenge is not an option for women, so Mizu must forge her revenge quest while hiding her gender as well as her blue eyes.
Mizu is joined on her journey by Ringo (Masi Oka), an overeager soba maker who dreams of greatness; Taigen (Darren Barnet), a pompous samurai whose rivalry leads to an uneasy truce; and Princess Akemi (Brenda Song), Taigen’s betrothed, whose gilded life seems a foil to Mizu’s. Her revenge quest leads us across Edo-era Japan in a provocative series that immerses the viewer in vivid adult animation with a live-action edge.
Other cast members include George Takei (Seki), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (The Swordmaker), Randall Park (Heiji Shindo), Kenneth Branagh (Abijah Fowler), Stephanie Hsu (Ise), Ming-Na Wen (Madame Kaji), Harry Shum Jr. (Takayoshi), and Mark Dacascos (Chiaki).
“It’s an Edo-period tale of revenge — Kill Bill meets Yentl,”Amber Noizumi
As fans much of fans of anime as Green and Noizumi are, they themselves would not classify this as anime. Green says, “It’s a 2D/3D hybrid, utilizing technologies of both. But even when we use 3D, we wanted it to have a 2D handcrafted feel.” Green went on to explain that they used a lot of filmmaking techniques that don’t always show up in animated series, including a pre-visualation department, stuntvis department, and a wardrobe department.
This will be their first animated project, and they’ve been help with supervising director and producer Jane Wu, who’s previous work includes storyboarding for Mulan 2020, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Game of Thrones. Wu’s previous producer work is the 1997-2001 animated series Men in Black: The Series.
Green said of Wu, “Jane is a once-in-a-generation talent who can see a story visually, put it down on paper, and then teach everyone around her how to make that vision a reality. She not only assembled the team that made this show, she then patiently taught everyone how to make a show like this.” The couple had complete trust in Wu and her team, which Wu appreciated. They told her, “You do anything you want,” due to their lack of experience in the animation world.
Jane thought about her approach to how to create the animation and the visuals, and realized she couldn’t do anime. “Not because I’m not a fan, but because there’s been such great samurai animation out there that I was just going to get lost in that voice and I couldn’t do better,” she said. “I didn’t want this to look like a game. I knew that I didn’t want this to look like a Pixar- or a Disney-animated story.”
Instead, Jane Wu took inspiration from Japanese art. “I designed the characters after Bunraku puppets, which is a traditional Japanese puppet performance that dates back over 300 years, and these puppets are about 3-feet tall. They aren’t for children,”
Erwin Stoff is the executive producer who’s past works include The Matrix and Constantine. Blue Eye Samurai was animated by studio Blue Spirit, which is located in Paris. Blue Spirit’s previous works include Ernest & Celestine, The Secret of the Kells, and the animated series The Long Long Holiday.
What do you think? Will you be tuning in to check it out? Let us know in the comments below!
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