Black Voice Actors In Anime: Changing The Game In Voice Acting Representation
Representation, when done right, means everything. Since the racial reckoning of 2020, we are seeing a rise in conversations around on-screen representation, especially within animated shows. Multiple characters of color that were played by white voice actors have now been left for Black and brown actors to take them on. On the other side, more characters of color are popping up on-screen—anime included.
Anime is a beloved art form to many worldwide and though its roots come from Japan, on-screen representation within the anime is diversifying in ways we didn’t see in the past. Previously, we had Claudia LaSalle, Canary, Yoruichi Shihōin, and, yes, we even had Piccolo. Now, shows like Fire Force, Pokémon, Attack on Titan, Shaman King, and more, are highlighting well-rounded Black characters and more Black voice actors are bringing them to life in their English-dubbed versions. And though there may be fond memories attached to Black characters from past shows, we can now celebrate Black voice actors taking on the roles of Black characters in some of anime’s most popular shows.
And so we did! Geeks of Color had the opportunity to speak with voice actors Kimberley Anne Campbell, Anairis Quiñones, A.J. Beckles, and Zeno Robinson on their experiences navigating the industry as Black voice actors, what it’s like to be a part of the on-screen diversification of different anime shows, what still needs to be done to create equity within the voice acting world, and more.