There has always been a racial gap in anime and many who see it understand what I mean. If you’ve watched any anime with African American characters, you’d understand what I mean by that statement. Many characters are depicted with big lips, dark skin, and other, interesting traits to put it kindly. But even though all of this I cannot say that it offends me or it is entirely racist.
I’d like to give a few examples of this, extreme character depictions.
BlackLuster: One Punch Man
Staff officer Black: Dragon Ball
The Large argument within this is that these characters seem to have the same look as comics from the Jim Crow era in the United States. An set of laws that enforced racial segregation in the southern states in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. These comics depicted African Americans with very dark skin, big lips, and spoke with a low amount of intellect. Of course the intellect part was a large issue with slavery. Little do some know, many slaves did not speak in such a way. They were forced to speak in such a way that demeaned them. As if to treat them as less than human, and many see the same in anime.
Now many will ask why I did not add Mr. Popo to this who has pitch black skin and very big red lips. The reason why is I cannot fully say that Mr Popo is even human, I can’t really use him as an example if he’s not even a human character. Regardless of that there has been a almost racial divide over how black people were/ are depicted in anime still. But I cannot agree and say these were created with a racist intention. There are many black characters in anime that are not exactly depicted the same way and are still badass and entertaining.
Ay: Naruto Shippuden
Muhammad Avdol: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Michiko: Michiko to Hatchin
Kilik Rung: Soul Eater
These characters are loved and well known, many who would see this wouldn’t expect anime to be as popular in the black community as you would see. But you would be wrong, anime in the black community is a large part of the general anime community, YouTubers. rappers, and even those who aren’t in the light of popularity love anime. But how could someone who’s black love anime that depicts them like this? And It’s simple but an understandable way. Japan did not create black anime characters with intentions to be racist, personally those who created the black characters have most likely never met a black person in their entire life.
In a 2018 Census, it was shown that 97.8% of Japans Population is Japanese, it can only be expected in the 70s, 80s, and 90s this was higher. There is good chance that if you’re someone in Japan around any of these timelines, there is a chance that you might have never seen anyone that was not your race, but this is obviously different for those living in America. America being one of the most racially Diverse counties in the world, you could meet people of many different races in your lifetime. With the amount of different racial backgrounds, traditions, and religions, you most likely have or will meet someone who looks different from you racially.
These characters were not done from Racism but from racial ignorance. The people who draw and animate these black characters most likely have never interacted with someone who actually is black. We shouldn’t try and cancel or harass these animators over this, it’s not a racial hatred on their part, but rather a simple ignorance to African people. I don’t think they’re meant to be racist, but they were depicted the only way the Japanese animators knew of African Americans. So if you ever see a black character that looks slightly, bizarre, please do not harass the artist. Simply explain to them and let them see your point.
What do you think of black characters in Anime? Is it a simple misunderstanding or is it a racially insensitive act to draw them like that?