What Do "My Hero Academia" and "Attack On Titan" Have In Common With (Pretty Much) Every Anime? Well.....

When I first heard of My Hero Academia, it had been through word of mouth via a fellow anime fan who looked at me as if I’d walked right up to Black Jesus and spit in his face upon hearing that I’d never seen it (and had no intention of watching it because I’m admittedly not the world’s biggest shounen fan).

This went on for weeks:

Her: Have you started watching it yet?

Me (at a baby shower): No.

Her: Have you started watching it yet?

Me (watching a show that isn’t My Hero Academia): No.

Her: Have you started watching it yet?

Me: (having a root canal) No.

Her: Have you—

Me: *throws hands*

And now there's police involved. It didn't need to go that far. For the sake of preserving my spotless criminal record and not catching a felony, I finally gave in and made up my mind to begin the latest series that was taking the world by storm, seemingly overnight.

Problem is, I’m a bit of a reverse-hipster in the sense that if there’s a popular new mainstream series (particularly if it’s anything anime, video game or manga related), I will reject it immediately, and wait literally years after the hype surrounding said series has died down to where I can make my own, non-biased judgments of it.

Examples include: Attack On Titan, PortalSay You Love Me, Harry Potter, and dozens of other titles I’d only gotten into as late as six months ago.

And the same goes for My Hero Academia. I was mildly perturbed by the stereotypical shounen-trope female character and her being a gigantic walking fetish, but as the series progressed, I found myself becoming more and more immersed in a story that has astounding storytelling, unique characters, and overall action sequences that quell my thirst for over-the-top insanity while satisfying my occasional thirst for a decent shounen series.

…However. This may come as a shock to many of you, but I’m Black. Ergo, I always view everything in terms of diversity and representation. Which is to say, that from the minute I started watching the series, I was looking for some hint of melanin to crop up.

It seemed feasible that in such vastly unique series with an even more vast array of characters, I should expect at least one character of color (and no, goddammit, “dark-skin” does not classify as “person of color”) to make an appearance.

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Nope. And for some reason, this bothered me. Like. A lot. See, what I find interesting is that in many series, there will be traces of Black culture scattered across the chapters and episodes, or incorporated into the characters directly—but there won’t be a Black character around for miles.

Similarly, this was my biggest issue with Attack On Titan;  you’d think that with all of the white/western people roaming around, there would be at least maybe one or two Black characters here or there, slaughtering the titans beside cheeseblock-nosed Hange (I still fucks with her though; she’s my favorite character—I also fucks with Levi, and my spidey-senses tell me he probably fucks with Hange in more ways than one as well. And if I’m wrong, there’s always fanfiction and doujin).

And that brings me to what bugs me about most anime these days—with as diverse as some of these series are getting, and with the blatant appropriation of Black culture by certain characters in very popular and mainstream series, the lack of Black characters in series where I should realistically expect to see Black characters is what turns me off.

Now, while I have heard of a recent Black character coming to light in later chapters of My Hero Academia, it’s worth mentioning he remains in relative obscura. And that’s my problem, plain and simple: the ignored need for more diverse characters—especially positive portrayals of Black women.

And before you rush to the comment section with your five and half name list of Black women and femmes in manga and anime, save it: I said there needs to be more, not that they didn’t exist, so no sense in trying to cut me off and male-nerdsplain like a certain someone tried to at a certain panel during a certain convention a couple of weeks back. Don’t do that here and don’t do that there—it will just make you look like the asshole you probably are.

My overall point is this: while series such as My Hero Academia and Attack On Titan are worthy enough to be called revolutionary, one of their biggest faults—as is the case with many and nearly all anime—is that they miss out on the opportunity to appeal to a very large spectrum of people of color; and to reiterate, nothing bothers me more than seeing a series where Black culture is prominent, but Black characters who represent that culture are nowhere to be found.

Then again, if Black people want something done right (and are perfectly aware that there is a very, very large outcry for it), we usually have to do it ourselves, and the results are almost always perfect because Black people rock.

That said, I’m going to end this piece with a not-so-shameless plug that has all of the subtlety of a brick to the head and say that you should totally donate to our Primus 7 Kickstarter, and continue to support Noir Caesar and it’s many creators who will continue to ensure that the divide between Black people, people of color, and those cultures in anime is brought to a close, as Noir Caesar continues to remain not just the fastest-growing indie media publishing company in the world, but the only one who continues to promote true diversity and representation in the world of anime, manga, comics, and beyond.