Monday, March 28, 2011

Afro Samurai Resurrection

Afro Samurai is a strange hybrid of different cultural elements. On one hand, it's the high energy Rap music wrapped up in Eastern Samurai warriors dressed like some weird combination of hip hop apocalypse survivors, which doesn't seem that far from what it actually is.

But what can you drag out of it for your own campaigns?

Actions have consequences is a theme I've mentioned before. In the original movie, Afro cuts a swathe of destruction through the land in his search for the #1 headband, worn by the man who killed his father. Friends, loves, and others all suffer under... almost indifference... to the need of his quest for revenge. Many of those people who die, have loved ones who aren't happy with those results. In this movie, they come back for some of their own revenge.

The Nemesis Effect is also in play here. Afro has proven himself fit against a robot duplicate of himself in past performance, and referenced here, but what is it that drives Afro? His father. So using the post-modern super science of the era, the villainess of this piece brings Afro's father back to life to act as his executioner.

It's not a one way street though. In order to challenge the #1, now Sio, Afro needs the #2 headband. The current owner of it is travelling with a child. This doesn't stop Afro mind you and much like the young heroine at the end of Kill Bill, Afro lets the child know that when he's ready for the fight, Afro will be there. This makes things cyclic. There are no real good guys here, just people obsessed with following their own agendas.

Some game systems build these types of innate activities into the player's through game mechanics. Games like Dungeons and Dragons use alignment as a broad guideline in allowing how players act. Hero and GURPS have psychological disadvantages with different strengths that show how the players may react to different scenarios.

Simple Plans Are the Best: This resurrection of Afro's father probably wasn't the best thing to do for several reasons. The first, is that Jinno and Sio had already proven their superiority to Afro in the initial conflict. To go further in the name of bring further pain to Afro, works against the act of killing Afro.

This is a common problem that many ego-maniacs have. When you are designing your head villains, how powerful do they think they are? How untouchable do they believe themselves to be? The more on the crazy scale they are, the more likely they are to make plans within plans within plans that can fall apart without that much required to happen. This desire to inflict more than pain and to inflict incarnate suffering leaves the hero too many opportunities to overcome.

The Control Effect: Like any good monster, Afro's father quickly falls out of control from Sio. What's worse, is that her brother, Jinno, is still Afro's friend underneath all of the cybernetics and takes this time to renew that friendship by trying to save Afro from his father. This of course leads to the resurrected father killing pretty much everyone that gets in his way leaving Afro a few moments to gather himself and claim victory.

It may seem that some of these things could only happen in such an anime but in my opinion, this could almost have been a Godzilla movie where the bad guys bring bad another giant monstrous enemy of Godzilla and lose control over it only to have it turn on them and be saved by Godzilla at the end.  The common themes of arrogance, cyclical events, and things beyond our control, are common to story telling and can be used in many mediums.

Afro Samurai boasts some great action sequences and some interesting character designs. If you're looking for some high powered post-apocalyptic action, Afro Samurai Resurrection hits the spot.