Genre-blending can be a fine line to walk, especially when approaching something as traditional as manga, but artist Takashi Okazaki took that in stride when he blended American hip hop and soul with one of Japan’s most widely published forms of narrative to create a new cult classic: Afro Samurai. Started as a serial published in an avant-garde manga magazine back in 1999, it quickly garnered international attention and fanfare, and due to its popularity has gone on to become an animated series, feature length film and even a video game. And thanks to its unique cast of stylized characters, it's also a great source of potential dog names for fans worldwide.
Afro Samurai Inspired Dog Names in Pop Culture
In Japanese culture, self-control, loyalty and integrity are routinely revered and for good reason. And although much of Afro Samurai’s overt themes center around hierarchy, the pursuit of power and revenge, the main character himself is often faced with questions of loyalty, whether that be to his father, his childhood friends or himself. Eventually, he is forced make the choice about Hachiro, a young man who attacked him in his youth — who also happens to share a name similar to a dog that stands for the ultimate loyalty in Japan: Hachiko.
Hachiko’s story is one of legend and that’s no overstatement. He is one of the most widely respected and celebrated dogs in Japan, let alone the world and there’s little question why.
In 1924, an agriculture professor from the Tokyo Imperial University named Hidesaburō Ueno was at a farm in the Akita Prefecture and decided to bring a golden brown Akita puppy back to live with him in Shibuya, Tokyo. Because of Ueno’s highly-regular schedule, he would leave and return home from work at nearly the same time every day. His dog, which he had named Hachiko, quickly joined him after learning his master’s routine, escorting him from home to the train station, then returning later in the day to wait for his human companion to return.
This went on for over a year until May of 1925, when Ueno unfortunately suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage during a lecture and passed away, leaving his faithful dog waiting for him near the platform. Over the next few months, Hachiko would return to the platform daily to wait for his master. One of Ueno’s students who had an expertise in the Akita breed discovered the dog one day and decided to follow him home, which was then with Ueno’s former gardener. After hearing the dog’s story, he began to publish several works about the breed and eventually Hachiko himself. In 1932, it caught national attention, which led to travelers from all over going out of their way to stop and see the dog as he sat and waited for Ueno to return, leaving him blankets for warmth and food to eat during his wait.
The process went on for a total of nine years, nine months and fifteen days before he passed away at 11 years old from terminal cancer. In the following years, several statues were erected in his name to cement him as a symbol of endless loyalty.
Afro Samurai Inspired Dog Name Considerations
When trying to come up with an appropriate Afro Samurai inspired name for your dog, there are several things you should keep in mind. You should first define your dog’s most obvious or characteristic traits, as this will act as a shortcut later on. Second, consider what drew you to the title the most, whether that’s the story itself, the characters, the medium or the creative process.
For instance, if you feel that the artwork and overall creativity employed to create the series was the most impressive, consider naming your dog after someone involved in the process, such as Takashi or Okazaki, the artist himself, or someone who helped to produce the final product such as Gonzo, after the animation studio or Draper or Yamashita after some of the writers. If you liked the soundtrack the best, then the names Rizza (RZA) or Wu would both work well. You could play off of appearances as well. If you have a fluffy, teddy bear-headed Pomeranian like Boo, then the name Jinno or Kuma would be perfect fits.
Of course, you can always just name them after a favorite character, but it’s up to you how to choose to pursue the best namesake for your canine companion.