Afro Samurai is one of those strange beasts that mixes a variety of influences to get its desired effect, regardless of how well those actually work (not well, just to quell your excitement). So you have a lone sword fighter wandering an odd fantasy/science fiction future where people still seem stuck in a medieval Japanese mode and yet highly advanced cyborgs and robots are running around (and some present day gadgets are available too). So, it doesn’t make much sense. Does it still work? Depends, really.
I love Ninja Scroll, and while that move shares the insane, high-octane sword fights with Afro Samurai and the larger than live characters, the end result feels entirely different. Sure, Ninja Scroll has its own share of oddities, but I never felt like watching a completely nonsensical, retarded attempt to mesh some cool anime elements just for the sake of it. I love violence in movies, but there should be a better reason for it than the haphazard excuse of a plot Afro Samurai has.
Two head bands, people fight for them, to get some mystic powers. Afro Samurai’s dad died for one of them, on his path to avenge his father Afro Samurai directly and indirectly causes all the people who helped him survive as a kid to die. As a character, he pretty much worthless. They had to create a secondary character who does all the talking and who apparently is a physical manifestation of Afro Samurai’s psyche to make up for the lack of real personality on the part of Afro Samurai. Not that he’s the only stupid character in the movie, most of the others have idiot motivations as well.
So, to summarize, a nonsensical setting, annoying and stupid characters and to top it all a nonsensical and stupid plot. Animation is slick, but that makes it only more feel like a waste of time and money.