While in the past, some anime relied on stereotypes and bigotry when depicting black characters, there are also excellent anime featuring black leads.
Yasuke, a new anime series on Netflix, is notable for featuring a Black ninja in 16th-century Japan. While the show deals with science fiction and fantasy aspects, the protagonist also deals with race concerns while carving out his own identity.
There have been famous Black supporting characters in anime like My Hero Academia, Bleach, and Haikyu!! If you’re looking for a more diverse representation of black characters in anime, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Several recent classics, such as Michiko & Hatchin, Afro-Samurai, and Neo Yokio, have noteworthy Black characters.
1. Afro Samurai (2007)
Adapted on the manga, Afro Samurai is a hyperviolent tale of revenge that incorporates samurai and hip-hop culture. The English dub was famous because of Samuel L Jackson’s portrayal of the protagonist. The soundtrack, composed by Wu-Tang Clan alumnus RZA, is another selling feature for the anime miniseries. Afro-Samurai was nominated for an Emmy and produced a cinematic adaptation of the first one.
Afro, a warrior known as Afro, is the focus of the story. Retribution against an outlaw who killed his father for holding the “Number 1” headband, which signifies the greatest warrior of all time in feudal Japan, is his life’s mission as a young man in this dystopian world. Assaults by assassins and mercenaries ensue, each one more exciting than the last.
2. Michiko & Hatchin (2008)
In the fictional nation of Diamandra, Michiko and Hatchin, the film’s two leads, yearn for independence. In contrast to the former, the latter wants to leave her abusive family behind. During a road trip, the two women become entangled in a wider criminal scheme. Diamandra’s visual style, which has a remarkable resemblance to Brazil, was praised for its joyful and brave characters.
Sayo Yamamoto made her directorial debut with the 22-episode-anime, which was followed by Yuri!!! on Ice and Lupin The Third.
3. Cannon Busters (2019)
When it comes to notable animated programs with black protagonists, Yasuke creator LeSean Thomas has a reputation. Cannon Busters, his own comic book series, launched in 2005. Anime based on Cannon Busters was released in 2019 and lasted for 12 episodes.
The Netflix original series, Gearbolt, is an action-adventure anime about a group of misfit robots and fugitives. It is led by Philly The Kid, an immortal outlaw whose goal is to retribute for the deaths of his parents.
4. Black Lagoon (2006)
When pirates kidnap Rokuro Okajima, a young businessman, they leave him for dead. This is one of Madhouse’s best anime creations, Black Lagoon. An exasperated Okajima has changed his identity to Rock and now works for The Lagoon Company, an elite organization of mercenaries.
Team commander Dutch is a former Marine who acts as a prominent player in the group. It doesn’t matter how well-versed Dutch is in firearms or hand-to-hand fighting; the guy just has a generally calm demeanor. Besides being a devoted admirer of philosophers like Hegel and Sartre, he also has a lot of biceps.
5. Blade-Anime (2011)
Marvel’s vampire-hunter Blade joined the X-Men, Wolverine, and Iron Man in getting their own short anime series. Harold Perrineau portrayed the protagonist in the English dub of Bureido, which was released in Japan as Bureido (of Lost and The Matrix fame). Other Marvel characters, such as Wolverine and Noah van Helsing, appear as guest stars.
Blood and gore were used to great effect in the anime, just like in Blade: Trinity’s feature films. When Blade goes to Japan in search of Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed his mother, the story revolves around him. The Essence, a group of vampires, is also a group he comes across.
6. Basquash! (2009)
When it comes to Basquash, its influences come primarily from the mecha and sport genres of prior anime series. In Dash Earth, a futuristic version of Earth, this story takes place. The residents of the planet’s surface and a significantly more evolved lunar civilisation can be seen on this planet. Big Foot Basketball (BFB) is a sport played by the latter. This is a basketball game in which participants wear enormous mecha suits.
Dan JD, the mechanicMiyuki Ayukawa, and their friends laid the groundwork for “Basquash” in the streets. As a result, the lunar metropolis of Mooneyes is enraged, and a power struggle ensues.
7. Yasuke (2021 – )
Yasuke is the first samurai of African heritage to join the ranks of the samurai. In the Netflix series of the same name, which incorporates magic and mecha clichés, the courage of this real-life character is evoked. As for the principal character’s story, Yasuke appears to be greatly influenced by the samurai and Western film genres, where the warrior serves as the “hero with a problematic background.” A girl with magical powers is at the center of the story, which focuses on him battling his own demons while defending her.
Actor LaKeith Stanfield portrayed Yasuke in the English dub. Additionally, Flying Lotus, who also produced the atmospheric opening music, Black Gold, is responsible for the series’ soundtrack.
8. Carole & Tuesday (2019)
Even though Carole & Tuesday is set on a human-inhabited Mars, the story’s premise isn’t heavily based in science fiction.. Instead, it’s a happy-go-lucky musical animation in which the two main characters never give up on their ambitions to be musicians.
Having fled Earth, Carole Stanely works odd jobs to support herself. She spends her free time practicing her keyboarding talents. This is how she meets guitarist Tuesday Simmons, who flees her well-to-do upbringing to pursue her artistic passions. Thundercat and the aforementioned Flying Lotus are only two of the great new-age musicians who contribute to the soundtrack.
9. Neo Yokio (2017 – 2018)
Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig produced this Netflix anime series, which stars Jaden Smith as Kaz Kaan, a “Magistocrat” who hunts demons in his spare time while living the high life. One of the city’s greatest magicians once defended Neo Yokio from demons during an attack in the 19th century, and now he lives there as a citizen of Neo Yokio. Because of this, Kaan and his kin are elevated to the higher echelons of society.
Strange paranormal occurrences occur throughout the novel as it proceeds. In the premiere episode, for example, a Chanel outfit gets exorcised! Additionally, the series presents an anti-capitalist critique and a focus on hikikomori, the Japanese practice of social exclusion that is prevalent in Japan.
10. Castlevania (2017 – 2021)
Despite the fact that Isaac from Castlevania is introduced considerably later in the narrative, he begins to play a significant part in season two. Isaac forms an army of the undead to harm humanity as the video game adaptation’s three main characters combat evil forces. Humans enslave and abuse Isaac, a devil forge master, until he finds relief in Dracula’s service.
Since the vampire’s demise, Isaac has evolved into a figure with a hazy moral compass. As he sets out to avenge Dracula’s death, Isaac discovers a new route and abandons his murderous goals in the process.