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Blackface In Anime: Asobi Asobase

This season of anime has some great content but most titles definitely could be skipped from its lack of originality, shows continuing from last season, or its basic, testerone fused premise. Anime that truly makes an impression is hard to come by this season unless you’re into Revue Starlight, Happy Sugar Life, Attack on Titan, Harukana Receive, and few others. Asobi Asobase almost slipped under my radar with its overly moe opening song that made me think it was going to be cute, but boring. I was utterly mistaken.
If you were an young otaku in the early 2000’s, you might recall Azumanga Daioh being one of the most hilarious anime comedies with a lineup of teenage girls trying to have fun and make sense of the world around them. Asobi Asobase is coming of age comedy that almost surpasses the raunchiness of B Gata H Kei: Her First Time.
The show didn’t really have to work hard to get its audience to laugh with a cast ranging from a girl whose parents are from America but she knows little English and a butler that shoots lasers from his butt, (off screen with the exception of one hilarious flashback). The trio of middle school girls try to achieve popularity, understand sex, and plenty more where that came from.
I have had tons of laughs from just the first episode alone up until the show takes an extreme nose dive into the unnecessary; blackface. A girl that is called The Lord of Pasttimers visits the girls school and the other girls are both intimidated and disgusted by her presence. Her applied makeup is clearly much darker than her pale skin tone, (which can be seen around her eyes and on her cheeks), although she denies wearing makeup. Perhaps the intended joke is that she doesn’t know what she’s doing with makeup however her way of speaking is different than other characters and sexually promiscuous.
Blackface has been a terrible attempt at comedy ever since its origin considering it more than insinuates that personalities and features of black people, (darker skin and full lips), are funny or abnormal. The earliest example of blackface in anime prior to this that I can think of is Mr. Popo of Dragonball-Z but generally, black people are rarely depicted well in anime. Either our features are ridiculously drawn compared to the sharp contrast of other characters or a white voice actor changes their voice to “sound black” to read a translated to English script of how white people think we speak.
Some might say I or folks that get offended by content like this are simply looking for something to complain about or can’t take a joke. When racism against black people goes far beyond the U.S. but considering the continuous discrimination, hate crimes, and unjust deaths of black people on American soil on a daily basis the last thing I would like to see is blackface in anime. Especially not when the show was already hilarious without having to sink into blatantly racist territory.

*Post was edited on 9/9/18. An earlier version of this article was posted praising Love Lab but has been edited due to being reminded of a blackface scene in Love Lab.*

5 comments on “Blackface In Anime: Asobi Asobase

  1. That girl is obviously a Ganguro.


    • Yeah, Trash is right. Its a dark tan, not makeup and has been a subculture in Japan since the 90’s.


  2. EvilCountProteus

    Ganguro is not blackface, you idiot. It’s hilarious that you mention Love Lab which actually DOES have a blackface scene, yet somehow that goes without criticism.


    • Thanks for reminding me about Love Lab. It’s been awhile since I saw that title and I forgot that even happened so I’ll edit the post.

      On the subject of whether or not ganguro is blackface, are you aware that the term translates to blackface? Are you aware of the black people in Japan who are offended by it? Are you aware that as a person that is not black you have no real agency to tell me what I should or should not find offensive? Are you aware that even if you are black, mixed with black, or have a relative that’s black or mixed with black but they aren’t offended by it doesn’t speak on behalf of all black people?

      My guess is no.
      But thanks for tip on Love Lab though, somehow I forgot that happened.


    • Johnny Gordon

      Ganguro literally translates to “blackface.”Such a subculture has been speculated to be derived from Japan’s views of black American pop icons from the 90’s, including Naomi Campbell, and Janet Jackson.


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