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‘Blue Eye Samurai’ creators Amber Noizumi and Michael Green

After thinking about the idea for Blue-eyed samurai For a long time, Amber Noizumi and Michael Green struggled to find the right medium – until they decided that the story needed to be animated in a completely new style. When Netflix came in, which had recently started an adult animation division, the eight-episode series was born.

Blue-eyed samurai follows Mizu (Maya Erskine), a young warrior driven by revenge as she lives as an outcast in Edo-period Japan. Her blue eyes mark her as an outsider in a Japan that has closed its borders, and her gender prevents her from legally taking revenge. Green and Noizumi say they wanted to create as many obstacles as possible for Mizu to overcome, as a warrior who wanted to “transcend her position.”

Blue-eyed samurai. Maya Erskine as Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai

Thanks to Netflix

DEADLINE: Where did the idea come from Blue-eyed samurai Comes from?

AMBER NOIZUMI: We have a blue-eyed daughter who is now 15, and when she was a baby we called her our Blue Eye Samurai. I was so excited when she was four months old and I realized that her blue eyes were going to stay blue, and then I realized, ‘Hey, it’s kind of weird that I’m so excited that my kid looks more white than Asian. ‘ So we started talking about it a little bit, and the idea grew from that, but I think you had some insights as well.

MICHAEL GREEN: Well, now that we’ve passed the point where we launched the show, I think it’s just as interesting as we have a very personal connection to the story, where it came from and why we chose to tell it. I’m really excited to now share with more people how on earth we took something we were excited about and actually worked with people to make it a reality. To actually make the show exist, which was a lot harder than coming up with an idea and recognizing that it was a workable idea.

We held on to this story for so long that we wanted to tell, but it wasn’t until we partnered with Netflix Adult Animation that we were interested in telling interesting stories. And then we found creative partners in our director Jane Wu, our production designer Toby Wilson and our partners at Blue Spirit, who allowed us to turn this very grand idea of ​​what the story could be into something that we can achieve. hit Netflix and is now playing eight episodes.

Blue Eye Samurai (left to right) Masi Oka as Ringo and Maya Erskine as Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai

Thanks to Netflix

DEADLINE: What was that process of bringing the story to Netflix?

VEGETABLE: We sat with the story for a long time and thought about what it could be for this character Mizu on a quest for revenge… but we weren’t sure how to tell it until we came across the idea of ​​animation. What if we did it as a drama, but in animation? Suddenly everything fell into place. The show that we saw in our heads that we eventually had to put on Netflix suddenly crystallized and we took it out and pitched it to different places and there were different levels of interest, but Netflix had just created this adult animation division and was interested in telling exactly these kinds of stories. From day one they were a truly invested and creatively supportive partner. Actually, we were not yet familiar with the world of animation. We come from a live-action background and they were not only supportive, but introduced us to the partners we all came together with to make the show.

DEADLINE: Let’s look at some details about the show. Why choose the Japan of 1657 as the setting?

NOIZUMI: So in 1633 the borders were officially closed, and then we chose 1657 because it is several years after the borders closed.

VEGETABLE: What would it be like to tell the story of a character who was born in that close of 1633 and here she is, some twenty years later, and as a result is treated very, very differently? The historical moment thus created the circumstances in a character’s life in which her proximity to whiteness became a social obligation like never before.

NOIZUMI: It would be a time when people might still remember that there was a small amount of diversity, but also that they lived in a time heralded as Japan’s golden age, when it was illegal to be anything other than Japanese .

VEGETABLE: So if you have successfully created a homogeneous society, which some people today might consider a good goal, then to the outsider you can see that this is not ideal.

DEADLINE: The story delves not only into the themes of race, but also gender identity, with Mizu identifying as male. Where did that idea come from?

VEGETABLE: Women couldn’t even travel alone at that time. So it was because she wanted to put as many obstacles in her way as possible so that she would be someone who had to transcend her position to get what she wants.

NOIZUMI: Going on a revenge quest was something you could do. If you were a Samurai, you had to get formal permission to go out on these revenge missions, but a woman is not afforded that luxury.

DEADLINE: The animation is so unique – not anime, but very reminiscent of it. How did you arrive at that style?

NOIZUMI: We chose partners, Jane Wu, and then we had an early vis development team and we all pulled together and came up with what we wanted it to be. We knew we didn’t want it to be anime or look like Pixar. We had to create a kind of new vocabulary for the kind of story we were telling, and we took a lot of influence from the Ukiyo-e paintings of the time and Bunraku puppetry. We’re doing an episode where we tell a mini-story in Bunraku puppetry, but we wanted to bring something that felt very culturally relevant to the time and not use modern artistic vocabulary.

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