Afro Samurai Reveals New Cover Art for Director’s Cut Re-Release

Titan Comics unveiled its new cover art for the second volume of the Afro Samurai manga Director's Cut release.

As reported by Anime News Network, the new art features swordsman Jinnosuke wielding his blade as he dons his iconic cybernetic teddy bear helmet which grants him the fitting moniker "Kuma." The creator of Afro Samurai, Takashi Okazaki, was commissioned to illustrate the covers for the upcoming editions that are being published in commemoration of the anime adaptation's 15th anniversary. The re-release will also feature a new foreword by Okazaki. The first volume will release on July 26, while the second will launch on Oct. 4.

The release of the two Director's Cut volumes will collate all 10 chapters of the series in a graphic novel format larger than the previous editions published by Seven Seas Entertainment and Tor Books over a decade ago. The new cover for Volume 1 was revealed in March when Titan Comics launched its new manga imprint, Titan Manga.

"Not only did the Afro Samurai manga have a huge impact on me personally at the time, the aftershock from Okazaki-san's stone-cold classic is still being felt in today's anime and manga cultures," said editorial director Duncan Baizley when the re-release was announced. "Effortlessly cool with beautifully choreographed bloody mayhem -- like Kurosawa exploding through a Tarantino lens -- it was always going to be our number one choice to launch Titan Comics' spectacular new Titan Manga imprint."

Set in a feudal yet futuristic Japan, Afro Samurai follows the eponymous character as he hunts down a gunslinger named Justice whom he witnessed kill his father, Ryutaro, as a child. Ryutaro was the previous holder of the No. 1 headband, said to grant god-like powers and even immortality to make its owner the greatest warrior in the world. After Justice, the owner of the No. 2 headband, murders Ryutaro to claim this prize, Afro sets off years later to reclaim his father's headband, finally "ready to duel a God" as per Justice's parting words to him.

Okazaki was inspired to create Afro Samurai due to his love for soul and hip-hop music and American media. He based Afro's design on real-life black samurai Yasuke who served as a retainer under the Japanese daimyō Oda Nobunaga during the Sengoku period. When a friend of Okazaki's began releasing Afro action figures, the mangaka was approached by animation studio Gonzo to create an anime miniseries based on his work. The 5-episode anime series eventually debuted three years later in January 2007 on Paramount Network's (then Spike's) website, with Samuel L. Jackson (The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey) voicing the titular protagonist and his partner, Ninja Ninja, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe's Yuri Lowenthal voicing Jinnosuke.

The first and second volumes of the Afro Samurai Director's Cut manga will be released on July 26 and Oct. 4, respectively. The Afro Samurai anime is available to stream now on Netflix, Funimation, Amazon Prime and Hulu.