I’m watching the first episode of Yasuke‘Netflix’ new fantastic animated show about the life of a black samurai made me cry. I remembered what it felt like to be a 16 year old girl watching anime in the dark at night in my living room. Watch out Yasuke, with its eponymous black character kicking a soundtrack by music producer Flying Lotus in the ass, took me back in time, and it feels damn great.
I was an anime nerd, but when I was young I could only see the shows piecemeal at my cousin’s house. When I was 16, my family moved from the apartment complex I had lived all my life to a new house. It was our first house and it was the first time I remember seeing a cable package with Cartoon Network. For the first time, I was able to see anime in my own house, especially the shows on Adult Swim.
Adult swim is probably one of the most defining TV experiences for an entire generation of black millennials. Cartoon Network’s 2001 “mature” programming block was unveiled late at night and featured many of the shows that black nerds are now referring to saying, “That got me into the anime.” Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, Inuyasha, Samurai Champloo, Spirit in a shell: Stand Alone Complexand the great grandfather of the basic anime shows for Black Weebs: cowboy Motherfucking Bebop.
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Dragon Ball Z is a revered classic anime based on the manga by Akira Toriyama. It’s a show that many anime fans of all kinds grew up on. It has had a special resonance with black men. In conversations with black male Dragon Ball Z fans, I’ve heard how the show seduced them into over-the-top fighting and how they, as adults, find that it has also helped them mature emotionally.
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If it was anime on Adult Swim, I’ve seen it. Because the shows were so late, I wasn’t allowed to see them live, so every night I would set up my VCR to record them, then rush home after school and watch the previous night’s shows. Just as important to me as the shows themselves were the “bumps” – short musical interludes that were played before and after a program and during commercial breaks.
Sometimes there were bumps stupid, nonsensical things filled with untranslated Japanese characters. Old heads will also remember the bumps with swimming motifs, such as “No diving in an empty pool. “The bumps that struck me the most were those that showed a peaceful scene while ambient music was playing. I loved this type of music, maybe because it was so similar to the type of music that Tsutchie, Fat Jon, and Nujabes (RIP an absolute legend!) Were made for Samurai Champloo. When I went to college and hooked up with other anime nerds, I eventually learned that one of the artists responsible for the music that was played during those bumps was a Los Angeles DJ and record producer named Flying Lotus.
Flying Lotus became a musical support in my life. Because of its association with Adult Swim and the anime I watched as a teenager, the anime and its music are closely related to me. In one (n Interview with vultureFlying Lotus says that anime played an important role in his life as well.
“I have a deep connection to Dragon Ball Zlike many people do, ”said Flying Lotus vulture. “I was really excited Akira early. But if Dragon ball came out when it was like … man, the drama. “
When Netflix started working YasukeFlying Lotus was brought in to produce the music. In his vulture In the interview, he calls it a moment when things come full circle – from an anime alongside his adult swim bumps to an anime he produced himself.
Watch out Yasuke feels like a moment of the circle to me too. As I was growing up, and even now as an adult, I never expected to see black people in anime. I am surprised and delighted when I do – provided it is not a racist representation. (I look at you, sister crown The Promised Neverland. Yes, I know she’s a good character, but the way she’s drawn … yes, no, I have problems.) Black characters in anime are rare. When they appear, I hear them like precious jewels. As I’ve gotten older, there seem to be more black anime characters than ever before. And now I get shows made by Blacks too. It’s like a renaissance of a black anime character, for the Yasuke is the crowning jewel.
in the YasukeI did an anime with black people, made by black people and with black music that I loved in the second half of my life. No wonder I cried.