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    Discovering her past: Element uncovers her roots through African Ancestry DNA testing Tarik Moody


Shades of Otaku documentary: highlighting Black voices in the anime world

todayDecember 12, 2023

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"How 'Shades of Otaku' Highlights the Intersection of Anime and Black Community

Anime, a vibrant and influential medium from Japan, has crossed cultural boundaries, resonating deeply with diverse audiences worldwide. Particularly notable is its profound impact within the Black community, a theme explored in Justin Roblero’s documentary “Shades of Otaku,” which just kicked off a crowdfunding campaign. I recently wrote about a similar topic the interaction of Anime and Black culture in an article titled “Anime, Art, Beats & Sake: The Intersection of Black and Japanese Culture” that coincided with an event I hosted.

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The Influence of Anime in Black Culture

Anime’s appeal among Black audiences is not a recent phenomenon. As highlighted in the HYFIN article, the connection dates back to the 1970s, with the influence of Chinese martial arts movies, and has only grown stronger. Anime’s themes of perseverance, challenging norms, and overcoming adversity deeply resonate with the Black experience in America. This cultural intersection is more than entertainment; it’s a reflection of shared values and struggles.

“Shades of Otaku” – A Documentary Exploration

Justin Roblero’s documentary, “Shades of Otaku,” delves into this unique relationship. As Roblero mentioned in his Crunchyroll interview, the documentary is a “love letter” to anime fans and explores why anime appeals to the Black community. It aims to create a narrative that’s both relatable and groundbreaking, using innovative storytelling and animation.

The mission of this film is to showcase our love for anime with the audience and make legitimate mental and emotional connections to why this medium resonates with us. The story will follow me as I travel around the country to visit our four main characters to showcase what attracts us to anime, cosplaying, conventions and how anime rose to Western popularity. Along the way, we come in contact with many other community members and how anime rose to Western to tell a story of unity and joy as black “nerds.”

The Personal Journey of Justin Roblero

Roblero’s journey into anime began with shows like “Pokémon,” “Sailor Moon,” and “Dragon Ball Z,” which he discovered on Toonami. These series opened up a new world of dynamic characters and storytelling, vastly different from Western cartoons. His personal connection deepened with “Yu Yu Hakusho,” where he found a character, Yusuke Urameshi, who he felt represented his experiences as a Black individual. Netflix will drop a live version of “Yu Yu Hakusho” on Dec. 14

Breaking Stereotypes and Creating Opportunities

In his efforts to make “Shades of Otaku,” Roblero emphasizes creating one’s opportunities in the film industry. The documentary highlights the joy and passion for anime within the Black community and showcases how individuals have overcome stereotypes and barriers to embrace their love for this art form.

The Cast and Their Stories

The documentary features influential figures in the Black anime community, including Latasha Allen (DragonbabyT), Gregory Apollon (LAN Party), Marissa Moon (Manny Moon), and Jared Ross (Anime Sundays). Their stories highlight the diversity and richness of the Black experience in anime fandom, from cosplay to content creation.

The Healing Power of Community

Roblero also touches on the healing aspect of the Black anime community. Anime provides a space where Black fans can express themselves without the reminders of societal struggles. It’s a medium that offers laughter, inspiration, and a sense of belonging, something particularly valuable in a community often marginalized in mainstream media.

Written with assistance from ChatGPT


Written by: Tarik Moody

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