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Kuro Style: 5 Anime Series With Black Characters That You Need to Watch

Kuro Style: 5 Anime Series With Black Characters That You Need to Watch

These are some original stories that feature characters of color at the forefront.

If you’ve been under a rock, let me put you on to game: Black people absolutely love anime. This is an indisputable, irrefutable, irrevocable, non-negotiable fact.

Perhaps more than any year in the past, 2020 marked an explosion of growth within the anime community in America. It could be because a lot of us are stuck at home or probably because Megan Thee Stallion went “full Shoto Todoroki,” revealing her My Hero Academia fandom on the cover of PAPER Magazine to millions.

I, myself, am a child of Akira, Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop, and Afro Samurai,  and that grew as more anime shows and films came out. If you weren’t on it fast at my school, you would be instantly spoiled thanks to the lunchroom conversation that’d take place the first half of the week. Now, today’s anime fans have conventions like MomoCon in Atlanta to attend, YouTubers such as AfroSenju and For All Nerds to subscribe to, and Black influencers like King Vader and Fantastic Frankey to laugh, debate, and celebrate your fandom with.

Black-owned anime studios like D’ART Shtajio help the anime community to grow and address the need for representation in the industry. With that being said, here are some anime choices you can stream that properly rep the Black community—from shonen to seinen.

1. Yasuke

Director: Takeshi Koike
Starring: LaKeith Stanfield, Maya Tanida, Ming-Na Wen, Darren Criss

Where to Watch: Netflix

Created by LeSean Thomas (Cannon Busters), Yasuke is an upcoming Netflix anime, which airs on April 29th and is based on “the greatest ronin never known”. Set in a war-torn feudal Japan, the LaKeith Stanfield-voiced character is inspired by the real-life samurai Yasuke, who many believed traveled from Africa to Japan in 1579. The trailer, armed with music by Flying Lotus, finds Yasuke taking up his sword to transport a mysterious child past dark forces and bloodthirsty warlords.

2. Michiko & Hatchin

Director: Sayo Yamamoto
Starring:
Monica Rial, Jad Saxton, Sametria Ewunes
Where to Watch:
Funimation

This anime adventure takes place in the fictional South American country of Diamandra, where a criminal Michiko Malandro (Monica Rial) breaks free from prison and kidnaps Hannah “Hatchin” Morenos, her ex-lover’s daughter. With fates intertwined, Michiko & Hatchin is a beautiful ride with action, romance, and tragedy in an Afro-Latine setting. If you only watch one show from this list, let this be the one.

3. Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Director: Radford Sechrist

Starring: Sydney Mikala, Sterling K. Brown, Deon Cole

Where to Watch: Netflix

Albeit not entirely an anime in the traditional sense, this YA series has healthy elements familiar to longtime fans. Kipo, which is critically acclaimed for its characters and diversity, centers on a young girl searching for her father in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by mutated animals. The adventure viewers go on is bookended by the series’ representation of LGBT and characters of color, which makes this a show to catch up on, if you haven’t done so already.

4. Cannon Busters

Director: LeSean Thomas & Takahiro Natori
Starring: Kenny Blank, Kamali Minter, Zeno Robinson

See Also

Where to Watch: Netflix

Fans (myself included) are immensely in love with Cannon Busters. With its stylish opening and closing theme sequences to its crazy cast of diverse characters and voice actors, this LeSean Thomas-created anime is an instant classic. A self-help robot named S.A.M. must find her best friend by traveling through the supernatural wild, wild west with her friend Casey Turnbuckle and her immortal outlaw companion Philly the Kid. The stakes are high with this one, yet once you press play you’ll see why S.A.M. is not to be messed.

5. Basquash!

Director: Shōji Kawamori

Starring: Masumi Amano, Hiro Shimono, Shizuka Itō

Where to Watch: VRV Select

This Mecha series made by studio Satelight is actually a sports series that is different from others like Dear Boys, Ahiru no Sona, and Slam Dunk. Taking place in an alternate, futuristic version of Earth, human society is split in half and a sport called “Big Foot Basketball” reigns supreme. Miyuki Ayukawa, although not a Basquasher, is an irreplaceable character on the show. From the hairstyles to the skin color, she is representative of the growth and impact of Black characters in anime.

Kevin L. Clark is an editor and screenwriter who covers the intersection of music, pop culture and social justice. Follow him @KevitoClark.

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