Hey, hey all you wonderful Heroes and Travelers out there it’s Monday, and that means another Melanin Monday post!! For those of you just joining us, Melanin Monday is a special weekly post series that I started for Black History Month (I might be persuaded to continue the series, if interest is high enough), where I talk about Black and Brown skinned characters in anime, manga, video games, etc. Last week I switched things up a bit, with an op-ed like piece on the negative portrayals of black characters in anime and I’m not gonna lie, it wound up being pretty ranty! So for this week’s post, I wanted to transition to something a bit more chill…
Two weeks back I spotlighted My Favorite Black Female Anime Characters; five phenomenal women of color that I felt everyone should know about… Well, this week, I’m giving the fellas a chance to shine. These fierce fellas know how to take care of business! Because I think all the men on this list are fantastic, this won’t be a ranked list, I love them all equally!!
So, you all might remember this first pick from last week’s Melanin Monday post. While I still feel some type of way about Kishimoto-sensei making Killer B a rapper, I have no problem overlooking it because he’s such an awesome character! He’s a shinobi from the Kumogakure (Hidden Cloud Village) a village consisting almost entirely of ninjas of color, so you know he’s built for greatness! But, that’s not all, what sets Killer B apart is the fact that he also possesses the power of the Eight Tailed Beast and is the second most powerful Jinchuriki next to Naruto. Unlike the other Jinchuriki who despise their status as vessels for the Tailed Beasts, Killer B, embraces his power, even going so far as to befriending his tailed beast, Hachibi.
You’d think a guy with all that power would be a jerk, but KB is a respected member of his village and the entire ninja community. He doesn’t command respect, instead he has a natural charisma that people flock to. He knows that true power doesn’t come from brute force, but through understanding oneself and others.
In a world where it’s kill of be killed comes Afro, a badass swordsman on a quest for the highly sought after Number 1 headband, rumored to give its wearer god-like power. If you’re expecting a traditional altruistic hero, then you’ve come to the wrong place, I mean come on, he’s voiced by Samuel L. Jackson… so you know you’re in for some sweet anti-hero action. Afro is the kind of guy that doesn’t take any mess from anyone, so, if you find yourself on the other end of his blade, may God have mercy on your soul!
Sure he’s a foul mouthed samurai, but Afro isn’t completely heartless, he cares deeply about his childhood friend, Jinno and his sister, Otsuru. Even his quest for the Number 1 headband isn’t purely for selfish reasons, he’s ultimately doing it to avenge his father’s death. Though he has made more enemies over the course of his journey than friends, Afro holds true to his beliefs and never backs down from a fight.
Next up is Shimada Kambei, a seasoned samurai and one of the seven samurai hired to protect a village of farmers from bandits in the 2004 anime, Samurai 7. He’s a formidable swordsman with years of experience under his belt, but after years of fighting he has become disillusioned with war. Due to his age and experience, Kambei is the undisputed leader of the samurai and the group’s main strategist. Despite being one of the most revered swordsmen in the land, Kambei doesn’t go out of his way to throw his weight around, instead he fights only as a last resort.
Of course he has his fair share of demons, but he doesn’t let that effect his ability to wield a sword or to protect those that are important to him.
Of course, I couldn’t write about Kambei without at least mentioning my man Gorobei! He is highly perceptive and skilled with the sword, like the others he has seen his fair share of death, but he still manages to retain his upbeat demeanor. It’s a shame that they had to kill this brotha off so early in the anime (too quickly if you ask me, especially given that he isn’t the first to die in the Kurosawa film…am I salty? YOU BET I AM!).
This next pick may be a supporting character, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not a badass in his own right, and can you believe he’s only a teenager?! He’s a laid back and upbeat Meister with a mastery of both Fire and Thunder, but like Killer B, he isn’t one to let all of that power go to his head. He’s a likable young man, and a capable leader, but when he’s in the heat of battle, Kilik definitely knows how to bring that fire (that was a bad joke, sorry)!
Outside of battle, Kilik is the life of the party, charismatic and cheerful, it’s hard not to like the guy! Sure he’s a bit immature at times, but since he’s only in his teens he can be forgiven for that… Loyal, smart, and just an all around good guy, Kilik would make a valuable addition to any team!
Last, but certainly not least is the former captain of the 9th Division of the Gotei 13, Kaname Tosen! I know, I know, he’s technically a baddie, but I couldn’t resist putting such a fantastic character on this list, just because he had some questionable morals… Oh did I forget to mention that my man Tosen is a blind swordsman?!
Despite being blind since birth, Tosen’s mastery of the sword is top notch, he’s even able to go toe-to-toe with resident Soul Society badass, Kenpachi Zaraki (those of you that have watched or read Bleach know just how big of a deal that is)! But, what really makes him such a cool character is the fact that he literally wields darkness, now that’s what I call Black Power! Like many of the other men on this list, Tosen, while not necessarily a pacifist, is prone to choosing “the path of least bloodshed”. Now, I want to clarify that while I absolutely love Kaname Tosen, I really truly hate the direction Kubo-sensei took the character after he regained his sight. That aside, Tosen is still one of the coolest characters around and more than deserves a spot on this list!!
So that’s my list, were there any characters that you though should have been on the list that weren’t? Someone on the list that you think shouldn’t be? Let me know what you think in the comments section. If you like what you see, like this post or follow Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! As always THANK YOU FOR READING!!