Get immersed in some good ol’ bushido goodness before diving deep into Ghost of Tsushima next weekend!
Hacking, slashing, slicing, and dicing is gonna be the play next weekend as the much-anticipated game title Ghost of Tsushima is finally releasing on the PlayStation 4. Perhaps one of the last AAA IPs to grace the PS4 before the imminent PS5 takeover either late this year or sometime next year, Ghost of Tsushima’s development is lead by Sucker Punch Studios, previously known for their Infamous franchise and is themed around the Samurai, historic warriors from Japan’s Feudal past, known not only for their skill in battle but also for their distinct code of honor otherwise known as the Bushido code.
With still quite a few days left before the game’s launch, we figured that there’s no better way to anticipate the game’s launch by immersing yourself in the rich and interesting culture of Japan’s Samurai past and of course there’s no better way to do it than to watch anime, samurai themed anime. And with that here’s 5 Samurai-themed anime that we think you should watch before you play Ghost of Tsushima.
Produced by: MAPPA
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Swinging blades and killing demons, Dororo is a classic manga that just recently received a much-deserved anime adaptation by MAPPA and streamed on Amazon Prime Video. While the show itself might veer away from Ghost of Tsushima’s more realistic view of feudal Japan, the war-torn setting of the anime would give you more insight as to how life was during Japan’s feudal age. Even though demons serve as the central antagonist, references to tropes usually seen in other samurai themed work such as warring states, warlords, warrior-turned bandits and even brief instances of the commoner life is present and does give a bit of a glimpse of Japan’s feudal past.
Afro Samurai/Afro Samurai Resurrection
Produced by: Gonzo
Where to Watch: Netflix
Stylish, cool and gloriously bloody Afro Samurai blends tropes from classic revenge plots, a gorgeous sprinkle of samurai goodness blended with present-day and near-future tech to give it its own style. Whether you’re watching the original series or the OVA series, Afro Samurai feature moment after moment of both intense quick slash kills and high tension katana swordplay to satisfy that samurai craving (have we said “Samurai” enough yet?), plus Wu Tang’s RZA did the soundtrack and Samuel L. Jackson voices one of the characters so, you better watch it, motherfu….
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Ah, yes, the famed tale of the Hitokiri Battousai, former manslayer, now trying to live his new life as a commoner if not for the various troubles that are met along the way. Rurouni Kenshin is a classic shonen that isn’t just all about the action but also mixes in a slice of life during the early days of the Japanese industrial revolution. While fictional, the show does have its own non-fictional roots as the lead character, Kenshin Himura, is roughly based on the real manslayer, Kawakami Gensai, a samurai during the late Edo period famed for his one-slash assassination of the politician and scholar Sakuma Shozan.
Where to Watch: Hulu, YouTube
Now we said that Afro Samurai was stylish, and you can’t argue with that, it’s true, but what’s also true is that Samurai Champloo has to be the realest definition of “stylish samurai anime” from its art style, animation, and heck, even soundtrack. Mixing Edo-era Japan tropes with western influences, Shinichirō Watanabe’s way of blending different genres and references and turning them into something unique is highly evident in this show just like with his previous work, Cowboy Bebop. Talking about style, Samurai Champloo’s swordfights shouldn’t be underestimated either as it does a good job of properly highlighting fight scenes and even showcasing actual real-life samurai techniques.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Set in the future, or rather, an amalgamation of classic Japan and the future Samurai 7 is a pretty straightforward show roughly based on samurai-themed film classics by the great Akira Kurosawa. Mixing together samurai tropes with sci-fi elements such as biomechanical warriors, and even mechas, Samurai 7 is definitely an interesting watch for the fans of the theme.
Bonus – Samurai Jack
Where to Watch: Adultswim
What, you think we’re not gonna have our boy Jack on this list? One of the many great shows to come out of Cartoon Network during the early 2000s, Samurai Jack pays homage to, well, the Samurai theme, and utilizes great visuals to tell its story. Of course, it’s western, of course, it’s not anime, but what the hell, it is Samurai Jack, do we still need to argue more?