Anime is a popular genre of film loved by people worldwide. Most Anime films and shows revolve around the strict characterization of Japanese characters, equipped with white skin, and big round eyes. But where is the love for the people of color of Japanese anime? Black and Brown characters do appear in anime, but not as often as they should. However, things are progressing, and you’re seeing a lot more diversity in Anime than ever before. I want to take the time to acknowledge four awesome Black/Brown characters from popular Japanese animated shows.
MICHIKO MALANDRO MIKCHIKO AND HATCHIN
From the creators of Cowboy Bebop, and Samurai Champloo comes Mitchiko and Hatchin. I cannot recall an anime where someone of Afro-Latina descent is the main character, so this is a first for me. Michiko is a sexy, smart, diva from the popular anime Michiko And Hatchin. The story takes place in a fictional country (liken to Brazil). Michiko is a notorious escaped convict and thief whom is on the hunt for her an old boyfriend who is missing in action. While on the run, Michiko encounters Hana Morenos. Hana is a 9 old foster child living in an abusive home. One day, Hana prays for someone, anyone, to take her away from the abuse, and that person turns out to be Michiko. Michiko kidnaps Hana from her foster home and they embark on an adventure to find Michiko’s old lover.
The premise is not as tortured as it seems though. Hana and Michiko grow fond of one another, and over time develop a dysfunctional, mother/daughter relationship. Michiko may be a little rough around the edges, but she doesn’t hesitate to put her life on the line time and again to save Hanna.
TAKEKORI AKAGI SLAM DUNK
Slam Dunk is a classic, sports themed, Japanese animation where Takekori is one of the main protagonist. What is a basketball anime without Black folks! Although, you may find some depictions, or art that make him look way lighter than he was originally drawn. Anyway, here is a small synopsis of Slam Dunk:
“One day, a girl named HarukoAkagi approaches Hanamichi without any fear. When she asks Hanamichi “do you like basketball?” Hanamichi falls head over heels for the girl of his dreams. Without missing a beat, Hanamichi tells her he loves basketball, and the two head to the gymnasium where Hanamichi learns about the slam dunk.”
As captain of the Shohoku high school basketball team, dude has major game. His nickname is Gori (which means Gorilla, how convenient) because of his towering stature and strict rule over the team. He is determined to lead the team to glory by winning the national high school championships. Ball is life!
CLAUDIA GRANT ROBOTECH
Robotechnology uses giant machines to fight extraterrestrial invaders of Earth. Premise sound familiar? Where do you think Pacific Rim got its inspiration?! Robotech is an anime classic, and one of my personal favorites. Claudia Grant is the first brown face in anime that I remember. Now that I look back on it, I am grateful that her character was so well written. Grant is a lieutenant commander of the SDF-1, tasked with coordinating communications for the 15,000-crew members aboard the massive battle fortress. She is relaxed, levelheaded and a confident leader, she commands only the best from her crew, at the same time building a good rapport with her fellow bridge officers.
Afro Samurai is a man on a mission. His quest: avenge his father’s death and become the world’s greatest Samurai. Writer and illustrator of Afro Samurai, Takashi Okazaki, states he created Afro Samurai as an ode to African-American culture, and his love for hip-hop. The Afro Samurai mini-series premiered in 2007 to rave reviews, and gained a new slew of fans. The popular series was followed up by a feature length film in 2009 called Afro-Samurai: Resurrection in 2009. Resurrection went on to win an Emmy for outstanding individual achievement in animation.
There are many more Black and Brown characters to be acknowledged. The list does not end here. I am just glad the genre is putting more Black and Brown character to the forefront, instead of side characters and villains.
Previously Published on Black Girl Nerds