Assassin’s Creed Shadows Ubisoft Backlash

The internet has been abuzz this past week with the release of the announcement trailer for Assassin’s Creed Shadows. This entry takes place in 16th-century Japan towards the end of the Sengoku period. Like some previous Assassin’s Creed games, it allows players to choose between two protagonists: Naoe, a female shinobi, and Yasuke, an African samurai. Check out the full trailer below!

The announcement of a black protagonist in the game has sparked debate online. Many have questioned the historical accuracy of including a black samurai or argued that the protagonist should have been Asian.

Ubisoft is known for striving for historical accuracy in many of its games, while infusing it with fictitious narratives and events. Although titles like Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey have deviated from this approach somewhat. However, historical records confirm that Yasuke was a real person. He worked under the service of Nobunaga, a prominent Japanese feudal lord, during the late 1500s and he was even present during Nobunaga’s final moments following a surprise attack by one of his trusted generals.

photo credit: kintaro-publishing


IGN’s editor Matt Kim made a great point in his recent article, stating, “I don’t want to see us have the roles we’re expected to have. I want the roles we’ve not had before.”

It’s true that Western media often whitewashes characters when actors of appropriate ethnic backgrounds could be cast. Matt’s point is that instead of restricting Asians to traditional roles like samurai and ninja, we should break the mold and offer them opportunities to represent a wider variety of characters.

You can read Matt’s full article HERE, where he delves deeper into this topic.

Our Ceo and founder Frederick L. Jones dealt with similar criticism ever since he started Saturday AM 10 years ago.  He wanted to way in on the Ubisoft situation and had this to say:

“Unfortunately, none of the silliness over this Yasuke x Assassins Creed is surprising. When I started Saturday AM a decade ago, I would routinely read social media posts from people claiming that the Japanese would never approve of manga by black people or starring black people. And, as in this case, I suspect that none of those people were Japanese.

It’s sad, but that’s one of the routine and problematic things black and brown manga and anime fans face: routine harassment by non-Japanese people, sometimes of the same race, who try to shame those of us who choose to be more involved in the hobby.

I went to Japan when I was 15 through a sister cities program and learned about Yasuke for the 1st time, and the Japanese who told me about him were PROUD of him. This was nearly over 30 years ago…so the idea that this is some ‘woke thing’ is not only ahistorical but projection from those who genuinely dislike seeing black people in any capacity other than villain or victim.”

Saturday AM, the world’s most diverse manga brand, applauds companies that take risks to tell more interesting and diverse stories. But what do you think? Was Ubisoft’s decision bold, or does it detract from Asian representation? Let us know in the comments below!

For more diverse stories and characters, check out our GRAPHIC NOVELS by clicking the link below!

3 Responses

  1. You do realize that picture you have from Kintaro press is not Yasuke right. Cameras weren’t even around until the 1800s. Quoted In 1827, a French inventor named Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used a camera obscura and a pewter plate coated with a light-sensitive material called Bitumen of Judea to capture and fix images. As the world’s first photograph, his eight-hour exposure of the courtyard of his home is now considered to be the world’s first. That picture is probably made from some TV or movie they were shooting.

  2. Whitewashing is not a thing anymore, people get cancelled very easy for it. Black washing, on the other hand, is on the rise. I’m not saying that the character was not an historical figure, just that it’s doesn’t make any sense to take away Japanese representation in a game set in their country.

  3. Just Sweetbaby Inc pushing their racist DEI narrative… Sweetbaby Inc is nothing more than a propaganda machine for the DEI pushers. Just stop buying their trash and they will learn the lesson most companies have started to wake up to…

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