Hello everyone! Hopefully you're enjoying February, the month of love and history! Specifically speaking, February is Black (African-American) History Month. In many cases, Black History Month gets pushed to the side which is an unfortunate incident. However, I believe that it deserves a spotlight, even in mediums not directly related to such culture, like anime.
First and foremost, I'd like for you guys to check out my previous Black History Month Anime post, from last year. It was my first time writing on such a topic and I believe you'll find some interesting things there, as well as diverse characters. If you have the time please give it a read.
With that out of the way, I'd like to welcome you to my second post on this holiday; version 2.0. Last time I focused mostly on the presence of dark-skinned character, black or not, in anime. Surprisingly, a lot of characters fit into this list. The moral to take from that previous post is simple; even though such characters can be stereotyped, I appreciate anime for including them and allowing such a diverse work.
This time around, I'd like to discuss the importance of having this holiday and celebrating or including characters inside and outside of anime and the community. Also I'd like to focus on what the inclusion of such people or characters teaches us as anime fans and otaku.
Black Cosplay Leads to More Creativity
|Cosplay Source ~ Kanu from Ikkitousen|
The first thing that comes to mind is black involvement in the anime community. One of the most prevalent examples is cosplay. Cosplay is a touchy subject due to the natures of character's outfits, and appearances. Anime features such exquisite designs that it's easy for people to get upset when a character isn't portrayed perfectly. There have been numerous cases of this in the past, but my take on this is a little different.
I believe that sometimes we have to let go of the mentality that "the original is always better." There has to be room for creativity somewhere along the line. I believe that black cosplayers (and other people of color) provide this to the overall community by dressing up as characters that don't share their skin or hair color.
So I can say that I appreciate these cosplayers and their wonderful cosplay. Without them, we would be going by the book on every little detail of cosplay, which is something that isn't necessarily bad, but should be done in moderation.
Diversity in Anime
|Elbia Hanaiman from Outbreak Company|
Black or dark-skinned characters provide more than just presence, they allow anime to continue being a diverse medium. If anything, they continue to inspire a trend of diversity. Again this keeps anime from falling into the pattern of focusing or including the same character types again and again. In fact, a few of these characters stand out from the crowd based on their skin color.
All things aside, a lot of these characters in anime are important play a essential role in the story. Naruto without Killer Bee would lead to the ninja not learning to control the nine tails, overall making him a weaker character.
The whole story arc in that series would have to be changed, because of a single character's absence. Without these characters certain series would not even exist, especially ones where they are in the main character role.
Diverse Backgrounds Teach Empathy
|Amy and Ledo from Suisei no Gargantia|
Lastly, I believe that having varying backgrounds and people with different appearances allows us to learn and experience more. On top of that, we can become more open-minded and connect more with other people. It is important to feel comfortable with our own race and appearance yes, but by appreciating others you can learn to love all types of people, and overall become a well-balanced person.
Thus, this is one of the main lessons I find in anime, regardless of which one I watch. This is also the one I feel that many fans can connect with the most. We draw pictures of characters we love, we wear clothing and dress up as them, and do tons of other things to celebrate and express our feelings. It's amazing that we are able to love a character that may be different than us on the outside, but similar on the inside. This is something that we do without thought, that can apply to real life.
I believe that without Black History, without the black race, and without people of color; anime itself would lose a little bit of it's magic. So I appreciate these factors for keeping anime the way we know and love!
So please, even if you don't come from an African-American background, remember that Black History Month exists and respect it. It's an important holiday built on many things, some which can be found in what we love; especially anime.
Thank you all for reading this post, and I hope to bring more to you in the future!