Netflix is once again teaming up with writer Nick Jones Jr. to produce Yasuke, a five-part live-action series based on the real life Black samurai’s story starring Omar Sy.
Former Marine and now writer Nick Jones Jr. is the showrunner and the writer of the upcoming series. Just last year he was the head writer and producer of Netflix’s Yasuke anime adaptation. Unlike the anime, the live-action series will not have any fantasy elements, but will be a serious dramatization of the real-life story of Yasuke and his friendship with samurai Oda Nobunaga. Jones jr. commented:
“Getting a chance to finally bring Yasuke’s legendary true story to life has been a dream of mine ever since I served in Japan as a Marine.”
Jones and Sy will both serve as executive producers alongside 21 Laps’ Shawn Levy and Josh Barry (Stranger Things, Shadow & Bone) as well as Significant Productions’ Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi. She said:
“This is the perfect project for what Forest and I strive for — the intersectionality of two cultures through great storytelling, To bring a real-life, historical figure to the forefront, paired with incredible action, with faces that represent both Black and Asian heritage — behind the camera and in front of the camera — equates a total dream scenario.”
21 Laps is under an overall deal with Netflix and has released numerous projects over the past few years, with more to come.
Here’s everything else we know about Netflix’s live-action Yasuke series:
What’s the plot of Yasuke and its historical background?
Netflix’s Yasuke will tell the tale of the real-life legend, an African man brought to feudal Japan under enslavement who became the country’s first non-Japanese samurai. Whereas last year’s Yasuke anime incorporated fantasy elements, this new live-action series will be a dramatization of the historical story, focusing on Yasuke’s friendship with samurai warrior Oda Nobunaga as he rose through the ranks.
Per the Harlem World Museum, here’s a bit more background:
In 1579, Yasuke arrived in Japan in the service of the Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano, Visitor of Missions in the Indies, in India. Yasuke was one of the several Africans to have come with the Portuguese to Japan during the Nanban trade and is thought by some to have been the first African that Nobunaga had ever seen. He was also present during the Honnō-ji Incident, the forced suicide of Nobunaga at the hands of his general Akechi Mitsuhide on 21 June 1582.
Yasuke’s exact origins are unclear. Some clues point to him being from Mozambique, others from Sudan or Ethiopia. The Netflix series will likely choose one of those theories, but it’s yet unclear which one it will run with.
You may be familiar with Netflix’s anime Yusake, helmed by Lesean Thomas and released in April 2021.
Who is cast in Yasuke?
It has been announced that Lupin and Intouchables star Omar Sy will lead Netflix’s Yasuke as its eponymous character. No other character have been revealed as of yet. Sy commented in a statement:
“I’ve been inspired by Yasuke for quite a while. With this superb team, we are creating a remarkable series showcasing what it meant to be an African samurai in Japanese history. The action sequences alone are going to be phenomenal and ingenious.”
What’s the production status of Yasuke?
Netflix’s Yasuke is currently in its early development stage, where the team behind the project is penning the scripts as we speak with pre-production following after.
How many episodes will be in Yasuke?
Netflix’s Yasuke is confirmed to have five hour-long episodes, and it’s being dubbed as an event series, meaning it’ll be a limited series.
What’s the Netflix release date for Yasuke?
Netflix hasn’t announced any dates for Yasuke, but considering its very early development stage, we can probably expect only a late 2023 or 2024 release date.