The first episode of Netflix's gorgeous new R-rated anime is available to watch for free right now

Blue Eye Samurai
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has been investing heavily in anime shows, and one of the most anticipated ones is Blue Eye Samurai. The show will be available to stream from 3 November, but you can watch it for free right now. We've embedded the episode below.

Set in 17th Century Japan, Blue Eye Samurai has been described as "Kill Bill meets Yentl". It follows Mizu, a mixed-race master of the sword who adopts a disguise to seek revenge. The show from wife-and-husband team Amber Noizumi and Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) and it's certainly ambitious: according to Green, "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.”

What's Blue Eye Samurai about?

The show is set in 17th Century Japan at a time when foreign faces were extremely rare – so rare, in fact, that there are only four white men in the whole country. And our blue-eyed, mixed-race hero Mizu sets out to kill all four of them, including one who may well be her father. That's a tough enough challenge for any warrior, and it's doubly so when you're a woman in a very gendered society – so Mizu must hide her gender as well as her race in order to seek her revenge.

There's a superb voice cast to bring this epic story to life. Mizu is played by Maya Erskine, alongside Masi Oka, Darren Barnet, Brenda Song, George Takei, Kenneth Branagh and many other esteemed actors – and the showrunners were careful to ensure that the cast was primarily an Asian one. Jane Wu (Mulan, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Game of Thrones) was the supervising director and producer.

For Wu, making the show was personal: in order to make any headway in the male-dominated movie industry, Wu found that going by her initials opened doors that her clearly female name didn't. "You couldn’t tell whether I was male or female, and you would have to judge me by the work," she says. "That’s kind of what Mizu went through to complete her revenge, and I guess that’s what I’m doing – completing my revenge.”

It's worth noting that while Blue Eye Samurai is generally described as an anime, that's not quite true. According to Green it's "a 2D/3D hybrid, utilizing technologies of both" but always aiming for a handcrafted visual feel. As you can see from the episode embedded above, the results are stunning.

Blue Eye Samurai episode 1 is streaming for free now, and the rest of the series comes to Netflix on 3 November – perhaps we're looking at one of the new best Netflix shows.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.