By Abbey White
October 12, 2023
The latest look at the upcoming animated series, which was first teased during the streamer’s inaugural Drop 01 event last month, offers a broader look at the show’s leading samurai, Mizu (voiced by Maya Erskine) and her plans to enact revenge on the white man who took her mother “and made me, a monster.”
It was a concept that Noizumi, who is half-Japanese, told Tudum came from her own feelings around her daughter and the initial excitement she had about how she racially presented. “Why am I so excited that my daughter has blue eyes? What’s the big deal about that? And why am I so excited that I have a baby who looks more white?” she recalled. “Back in the Edo period starting in 17th-century Japan, it would’ve been illegal to be white. Nobody would’ve wanted to look white like that.”
Set in 17th Century Edo-period Japan, Mizu is a mixed-race samurai commonly described by others as a blue-eyed monster, and who calls herself a “creature of shame.” Living a life in disguise, she seeks to kill these four men — including the one who may be her father — in a place where “under the law,” revenge is a luxury for men and “women must be practical.” But Mizu, with no patience or time for men, friendship, love or weakness, is ready to cut down those who stand in their way.
Her enemies won’t go quietly, though, with the teaser promising a number of vivid and intense fight sequences set everywhere from snowy plains to mountains surrounded by magma. “I said the samurai could not be stopped,” one man shouts. “But you wouldn’t listen!”
The teaser is almost relentless in its action sequences, promising more in terms of the adult animated series’ visuals than its story beyond the promise that under Mizu’s mask may be someone who is not the killer they pretend to be, but rather someone deeply hurt — and deeply angry.
“We want people to sink into it and be taken by the story and the level of artistry and forget they’re watching animation,” Green told Tudum. “We would love this to cross over into every interest — that if you like The Witcher, if you like animation, if you like Game of Thrones, if you like The Crown, if you like historical drama, if you like Shakespeare in Love, if you like Tarantino movies, there’s something in Blue Eye Samurai for you.”
Any way you watch it, the trailer promises that vengeance cuts deep in Blue Eye Samurai, which also features George Takei (Seki), Masi Oka (Ringo), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (The Swordmaker), Brenda Song (Akemi), Darren Barnet (Taigen), Randall Park (Heiji Shindo) and Kenneth Branagh (Abijah Fowler) among its leading voice cast. The series supporting voice cast also includes Stephanie Hsu (Ise), Ming-Na Wen (Madame Kaji), Harry Shum Jr. (Takayoshi) and Mark Dacascos (Chiaki).
Speaking to its particularly star-studded Asian and Asian-American voice cast, Noizumi told Tudum, “We weren’t looking for people who had a ton of voice-over work experience. I think most of them did, but we wanted to make sure that everybody was actually Asian. We didn’t want to cast anybody who wasn’t.”
Noizumi and Green — a writer on Logan and Blade Runner 2049 — co-created, executive produced and wrote the adult anime. Erwin Stoff is executive producer alongside Jane Wu, supervising director and producer for the series, which counts Blue Spirit as its animation studio.
The show is a 2D/3D hybrid, with characters designed “after Bunraku puppets, which is a traditional Japanese puppet performance that dates back over 300 years, and these puppets are about 3-feet tall,” according to Wu.
Blue Eye Samurai is set to release on Netflix Nov. 3.
Wu is represented by manager Tarik Heitmann and attorney Rob Szymanski.