Afolayan’s Vision Overwhelmed by Cluttered Plot and Underdeveloped Characters in ‘Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre’

Afolayan’s Vision Overwhelmed by Cluttered Plot and Underdeveloped Characters in ‘Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre’

Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre, a sequel series to the 2022 film Aníkúlápó, transports viewers to the 17th century. The show follows the adventures of the protagonist, Saro (played by Kunle Remi), as he returns to life on a new mission and immerses himself in a previously unexplored community. Produced and directed by Kunle Afolayan, the six-part series delves into power struggles, political tensions, survival, adventure, and destiny.

The story begins with Saro’s second death and Arolake’s (Bimbo Ademoye) desperate fight for survival. In the early scenes, we witness the use of deus ex machina, not through the mystical akala bird as before, but through a different mechanism. Olubode (Damilola Ogunsi), a spiritual gatekeeper, instructs Saro’s spirit to reclaim the lives he previously restored on Earth. Only then can he access the afterlife. As a messenger of death, Saro roams the earthly realm until he encounters a woman with whom he negotiates a restoration of his human form as an akudaaya. In Yoruba tradition, the akudaaya is a belief that the dead return to life to fulfill unfinished tasks. Saro, now in this new humanoid identity, settles in Ilu Aje, becomes a palm wine trader, and starts a family with Olatorera (Oyindamola Sanni), his rival’s daughter.

Afolayan’s portrayal of Saro in the series lacks psychological growth. His susceptibility to lustful desires and ego-driven decisions persist from the previous film. However, the spotlight on Saro’s strengths diminishes in this installment, where he no longer amasses fame and wealth from stolen akala powers.

While Saro’s prominence wanes, the series introduces new characters like Bashorun Ogunjimi (Owobo Ogunde), Awolaran (Lateef Adedimeji), and Akin (Gabriel Afolayan). Story arcs include Basorun’s quest for power, Awolaran’s conflicts with his father, Prince Kuranga’s (Uzee Usman) troubled marriage to Princess Omowunmi (Eyiyemi Afolayan), and Prince Kuranga’s murder. Brewing tensions between Ede and Oyo hint at potential full-scale hostilities in Season 2.

Bashorun Ogunjimi, portrayed by Owobo Ogunde, stands out as the Oyo warlord. His composed yet charismatic demeanor captivates viewers. As an antagonist, Bashorun seeks Saro’s resurrection powers and orchestrates Prince Kuranga’s demise. However, his downfall lacks the expected resistance, compromising the awe factor.

Despite occasional superfluous moments and prolonged conversations, the series maintains suspense and curated tensions. The aesthetic grandeur, tribal marks, special effects, and cinematography mask its fallibility. Afolayan’s Aníkúlápó franchise pioneers autochthonous storytelling in New Nollywood, setting the stage for more compelling episodes and sagas.

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