Stan Sakai’s Usagi the ‘Samurai Rabbit’ will get the highlight on Netflix

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With information of quite a few Netflix sequence getting the ax lately, it’d be clever to look at, rewatch and urge others to attempt the exhibits you’d prefer to see stick round.

A private alternative (and a present all 4 of my youngsters take pleasure in): The brand new animated sequence, “Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles” takes inspiration from Stan Sakai’s acclaimed comedian e-book sequence, “Usagi Yojimbo.”

The brand new present, geared toward youngsters ages 7 and up, focuses on Yuichi Usagi, a teenage descendent of Sakai’s unique rabbit ronin, Miyamoto Usagi, and his quest to struggle Yokai (supernatural entities from Japanese folklore) and grow to be a famed samurai.

Sakai’s “Usagi” comics, which started within the ’80s and nonetheless run to this present day, largely give attention to the Edo interval of Japanese historical past, changing people with speaking animals and that includes tales impressed by people tales and historical past. There’s fairly a little bit of homicide in these comics, so it is sensible that the sequence on Netflix finds a extra family-friendly entry level for youthful audiences.

“Samurai Rabbit” opens with Yuichi Usagi (and his pet lizard/dinosaur-thing Spot, yeep, yeep!) transferring from his aunt’s farm to the massive metropolis, the place he shortly makes bother with varied avenue gangs (together with a batch of creatures who snap their paws like they’re in a manufacturing of “West Aspect Story”). Hoping to grow to be a samurai with out the assistance of an skilled sensei, Usagi fumbles into inadvertently releasing tons of of Yokai, together with a large, bug-looking one who hopes to take management of the town.

Usagi at the least makes a number of unlikely mates, together with bounty hunter rhino Gen (impressed by the unique Usagi’s go-to ally), ninja-with-secrets Chizu and thief-with-a-heart-of-gold Kitsune. Collectively they wrangle varied Yokai whereas Usagi tries to disprove the notorious tales about his namesake descendent.

With a colourful CGI palette, “Samurai Rabbit” mixes conventional Japanese design and cultural components with futuristic upgrades within the type of flying trolleys and varied devices, referred to as robottos. The sequence additionally intercuts some 2D animation when displaying flashbacks and visions of the OG Usagi.

Whereas the animation is usually crisp, the present’s quite a few motion sequences may be considerably uneven with slower, clunkier swordplay and unmemorable struggle choreography. It might be that the characters’ fight inexperience elements into that method, and the present’s Y7 ranking rightfully limits the bodily influence of all of the sharp, pointy issues.

Nonetheless, the sequence would profit from extra dynamic battles. By comparability, the OG Usagi’s visitor appearances in varied “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” animated sequence, and most notably the 2012-era Nickelodeon CGI sequence, demonstrates how far more potential there’s for higher anthropomorphic animal fight.

That grievance apart, this primary season of “Samurai Rabbit” mixes stable humor and character improvement, with Usagi and his allies every getting some compelling backstories. The adversaries are enjoyable too, with a mixture of weird comedian relief-type baddies and extra formidable antagonists. Every of the ten episodes include their very own mini-conflict whereas nonetheless constructing a satisfying season arc.

Followers of “Usagi” would possibly take a passing look at “Samurai Rabbit” and suppose it’s not shut sufficient to what they love concerning the comics. Nevertheless, Sakai, whereas not a author on the sequence, is concerned as an government producer, and the present shortly establishes itself as its personal factor whereas nonetheless honoring the origins of the characters and comedian universe.

The complete first season of “Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles” is streaming on Netflix.

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Tyler Wilson is a member of the Worldwide Press Academy and has been writing about motion pictures and popular culture for Inland Northwest publications since 2000, together with a daily column in The Press since 2006. He may be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.”

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