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Collage of the most popular anime in the last decades to Black Americans.

Anime in Black Culture

Anime is an illustrated animation represented most commonly in the form of movies and television shows. It originated in Japan before exploding exponentially in Japan, East Asia, and rest of the world. 

Anime: History and Culture

Most popular anime shows and movies were first written and recorded in Japanese, given that Japan is where the animation style is most loved and revered. 

A collage of the most popular animes in the world.

However, many, if not most, anime movies and shows are available either subtitled, commonly referred to as “subbed” in English, or re-recorded with English, commonly referred to as dubbed. 

This fact alone represents the massive popularity of anime shows and movies globally, especially in the United States. 

Americans take just as much enjoyment in consuming anime as Japanese people, although it may not carry the same cultural significance in the United States. Yet TV shows like Attack on Titan and One Piece and beloved movies like Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle have rightfully earned millions of American fans- many of them being African American.

Popularity in the Black Community

There are many reasons for which one could argue the popularity of anime in the black community, and none would likely pale in comparison to another. 

It could be linked to a need for an outlet that many African Americans share: the need for a world to escape into and relax in (even if that particular anime is far from relaxing). Or, one could argue that African Americans only have a unique love for anything colorful, creative, and fantastical. Or perhaps, people simply continue to underestimate the power of influence that the black community holds. 

A black woman lying on her back, with her dog beside her, while watching anime using her laptop.

As many various fields and industries have underestimated the value of black inclusivity and representation, they have time and time again been reminded why that is a mistake. 

Today, however, it is more commonly understood that black people are not a monolith, and having black representation in anime shows and movies is valuable. Even hip-hop star Megan thee Stallion has openly expressed her love of the genre, inviting thousands, if not millions, more African Americans to express their admiration.

Racism, Appropriation, and Reality

The intermingling of cultures remains the arguably most beneficial outcome of globalization. The human race is enhanced by the sharing of knowledge and ideas for many reasons. 

When many cultures can exist peacefully, with balanced representation in one space, progress is inevitable. But when there is a struggle to bring together those of different backgrounds, clash of dominance occurs. 

For example, there is a small sentiment in the East Asian community that rejects the inclusion of African-Americans in both the consumption and representation of anime. Their view is that anime is by Asians and is therefore only meant to represent Asians. 

However, those with this view represent minute minority of Asian anime lovers. Most know that anime is similar to any other category of artistic expression meant to represent the human experience and be subject to limitless ways of interpretation. 

Anime represents various nationalities, including the diverse landscape of Asia and the rest of the world. Thus, anime writers of color have begun writing the black perspective into many incredibly creative narratives.

One of the more notable anime shows to come out with black perspective was Yasuke , featuring a black protagonist of the same name. It was first aired in 2021 exclusively on Netflix, one of the largest streaming platforms in the world. This show made us see the strength of the black community’s influence on the anime entertainment industry. And before this, the anime Neo Yoki, written and voice acted in by actor Jaden Smith, premiered on Netflix in 2017. Both shows were met with relative success and high viewership, further confirming the strength of black popularity in the anime world.

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