The title character of Blue Eye Samurai is an expert at staying hidden when out in the open. Tinted glasses. Low-slung jingasa hat. Preternaturally silent, and speaking only in low tones when necessary. Mizu intends to blend in, unnoticed and unremembered, while venturing across the Japanese countryside in the year 1633. It’s easier to strike a lethal blow when one is unexpected or underestimated—but there are other reasons to be secretive.
Mizu is a woman at a time when women aren’t permitted to travel alone. She’s also biracial in an era when Japan closed its borders to foreigners and scorned anyone who wasn’t full-blooded native Japanese. Her azure irises are a giveaway to her partial European heritage, so she must keep them hidden, along with her gender, in order to fulfill her mission of revenge. The only hue the Blue Eye Samurai wants to be known for is scarlet red, splashed in hectic patterns around the bodies of her fallen foes.
Jane Wu, the supervising director of the Netflix animated series (which debuts on November 3), felt an intimate connection with the show’s warrior character. Growing up in Taiwan and then Southern California, she hid parts of who she was in order to explore other identities that might otherwise have been restricted to her: geek, jock, fighter. “For most of my childhood years, up until college, I really was a boy. I was a tomboy,” Wu tells Vanity Fair for this exclusive first look at the series. “All my friends were guys. Everything that I did was very masculine and male-based.”