The Oddly Colored "Black" Anime Characters
Is It Diet Racism or Coincidence?
In a world that caters to people of lighter skin tones, anime and manga falls short to the global norm based on European beauty standards and a lack of dark-skinned representation under positive light. Anime like Naruto and Bleach are very good at showcasing darker skin tones, yet one of the two will be a good part of the article’s topic down below.
Get to the Point!
Okay, okay — okay. . . Alright. In case you were waiting for me to share some Piccolo memes, you’ll definitely get that wish. But, do you notice a pattern here with characters like Piccolo(1) and Kisame(2)? Both characters are widely considered to be black by their African American(which is most of who I engage with in the nerd communities) viewers of both the widely successful series’. All jokes aside, all memes and photo edits aside, there is a reason why dark skinned people are drawn towards these characters of extremely obscure and extensive pallets of skin colors.
So is it Because They’re Colorful?
No, not at all. Let’s take a look at Piccolo shall we? Namekians are green people from planet Namek for those of you who don't know.
Piccolo comes from this enslaved race of tight-knit beings, so it’s easy to tell him apart from the rest of the cast, including Namekians born on Namek, who he slightly differs from in terms of skin tone and ethics. It's worth noting that Namekians weren't always enslaved until the rise of a villain named Frieza, who's racist nature is a part of his tendencies to the point where he constantly calls our ape-hybrid main character a monkey(joke).
As a Namekian, Piccolo faces xenophobia throughout the series up until the point where he’s acknowledged as a hero, which happens extremely late in the series. As a character that has to put in extra effort to fulfill their goals while dealing with uneducated public perception from people who fit the ‘norms' of society, Piccolo instantly becomes an extremely relatable character to black audiences.
Outside of that, Namekian attire usually consists of headwraps, and an assortment of belted fabrics. The Namekians also wear shoes with similar styles to Ancient African footwear.
Piccolo also has a black person’s facial structure and build to add. This is a hilarious point but a viewer can't deny that his appearance and his voice work together to sell an either intentional or accidental image of blackness.
Keep in mind that he’s the only Z-Fighter with these traits thus far.
Just like Kisame, who in the Akatsuki(next to the obviously dark skinned Kakuzu) appeals as black to a wide audience for these reasons, Kisame follows that example in the most perfect way possible.
Then why Wouldn’t the Characters be Explicitly Black?
Because a lot of the times, when they are explicitly black, they tend to be portrayed in an extremely racist and ignorant way. The colorful characters leaves room for portrayal without the full force of backlash that may come with it.
Colorful characters also get rid of the potential of threatening close-minded or racist audience members who may just see characters of greens, blues, and reds, as obscure nonhuman pieces of fiction.
All in all, we’ve seen a rise in black anime characters written extremely well. Coincidentally, we’ve also seen a rise in African and African American culture in terms of being trendy around the world, but that’s for a different marketing topic.
All in all, what do you all think? Leave comments below. Keep in mind that the text in this article is based purely on my opinion and the many others ideals that I’ve observed.
Thanks for reading!