Teddy Bear

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Takashi Okazaki 

Afro Samurai [film still] 




Ask your students to look at this image for a few minutes. Remind them that they do not 

need to know about or ever have seen the Afro Samurai series to understand the image or 

talk about it. 



Who do you see in this picture? 


Look at the character’s face. Describe the emotions you see expressed. What visual clues 

communicate those emotions? 

What facial features stand out to you? Describe.  Notice the figure’s proportions. What is 

big? What is small? Why do you think the artist made those choices? 


Is the figure male or female? 

What makes you say that? 

Does the gender of the character affect your feelings about it? Would the gender of the 

character change the story? Discuss. 



What is the figure wearing? 

What clues does the outfit potentially give you about the story? 

Is it dressed for a specific activity? What types of activities could you perform in this 



Look at the background. 

What kind of place is this?  Describe.  

Notice the choices the artist made in terms of color, depth suggestion, the size of the 

figure in relation to the background, scale, perspective. 

Do you associate these colors with a time of day? A season? 

What kind of mood does the scene have? How does the artist create mood? 

If you wanted to change the mood of this image what choices would you make? 






In-class Activity or Take-home assignment  

Adapt for 3




 grade level students 


Develop an original story (do not re-tell the Afro Samurai story) about this character, 2-

3pages in length. Give the character a new name and describe the events leading up to 

this scene. How did your character get to this place? What is this place like? Why is your 

character here? Provide details. The reader of your short story should learn many things 

about your character, its emotions, motivations, thoughts, sensory experiences, etc. 

Create a beginning, middle and end for your story, introduce other characters if you like.  



In the Afro Samurai story the teddy bear masked character is named Jinnosuke. He 

sometimes is also called Kuma. Kuma means bear in Japanese. He wears a black keiko-gi 

and hakama, (an outfit usually worn by martial art practioners) and geta sandals.  


About the artist: 

Takashi Okazaki (b. 1967, Japan) is an illustrator, designer, painter and manga artist. He 

is a founding member of the collectiveNOU NOU HAU, which published a magazine of 

independent and experimental manga. His Afro Samurai manga was featured in the 

inaugural issue of NOU NOU HAU. In 2007 the Gonzo studio produced an anime version 

for American television on the Spike Network.  


Interview with Takashi Okazaki  




About the story: 


Afro Samurai, 1994–ongoing, is set in a futuristic world—with robots, mechanized 

weapons and lasers—that paradoxically looks a lot like common images of “feudal” 

Japan. The principal character, Afro, is on a quest to avenge his father, whose killer, 

named Justice the Gunman, is the holder of a spiritually powerful headband that makes 

him “Number One” and can only be acquired by killing the previous holder. Afro’s father 

held it until Justice killed him, and Afro, now holder of the “Number Two” headband, 

must fight off those who seek to usurp his position while hunting down Justice. A secret 

band of monks, the Empty Seven Clan, invariably come between Afro and his quest.  

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