Since being launched by Ubisoft in 2007, the acclaimed video game Assassin’s Creed has taken place in several historical settings, including Ancient Egypt, Renaissance Italy and Victoria Britain. For years, fans have been calling for the series to be brought to Japan. Finally, they are getting their wish, with the 14th installment, Assassin’s Creed Shadows, taking place in feudal Japan at the end of the Sengoku period. The main characters are Naoe and Yasuke. The former is a fictional shinobi, while the latter is a historical figure, believed to be the first Black samurai. He served under Oda Nobunaga.  

Yasuke Stars in Assassin’s Creed Trailer

Last Wednesday, the official trailer for the much-anticipated series was released. The video, which has already garnered 7 million views, has been met with a mixed reaction from Netizens. There’s been a lot of negativity, with more than 580,000 dislikes compared to 263,000 likes, at the time of writing. One of the main talking points has been Ubisoft’s decision to feature a Black samurai as the lead male character.  

dislike to like ratio assassin's creed shadows

Posting a video on X, one fan said, “I see this, and my immediate thought is, they did this for brownie points. I can’t think of any other reason why you would have an Assassin’s Creed game based in Japan, which we’ve been clamoring for since the beginning of Assassin’s Creed, and then have the main protagonist that is a male, be black.”

Another person wrote, “Damn Ubisoft won’t even let you play as a Japanese dude in the game set in Japan.” Some have pointed out that Yasuke was only a retainer to Oda Nobunaga and not actually a samurai. This, though, technically isn’t true as retainers were usually samurai who provided services, especially military, to lords who offered protection and land in return.  

Several people have defended the game and accused those who’ve criticized it of being racist. “It’s really funny how you have racist weebs complaining about Yasuke in the new Assassin’s Creed, meanwhile actual Japanese folks learning about him for the first time are literally saying ‘this is dope, no wonder they chose him as a protagonist,'” wrote one person on X.

Who was Yasuke?  

Described by the late actor Chadwick Boseman as “one of history’s best-kept secrets,” Yasuke is believed to be the only person of African ancestry to have reached the rank of samurai. He arrived in Japan in 1579 as a bodyguard to Alessandro Valignano, who’d been appointed to inspect the Jesuit missions in the Indies. Nobunaga then allowed him into his service and granted him the honor of being his sword-bearer. The pair reportedly fought in at least two battles together. 

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