Anti-Blackness In The Anime: Carole & Tuesday

Today I'm writing about Carole & Tuesday, one of the most interesting anime that I've seen in a while. It's Japanese creators try (and fail) to add their two cents to the serious conversations around race, xenophobia, immigration, and class. The worst thing about this failure is that they had a good chance to leave a positive impact on Black viewers that they reached with just the sheer number of Black (or rather, brown-skinned) characters they decided to draw into the anime. I, for one, would have been happier with lots of plain representation alone.


But no.

They just had to go and ruin it by trying to be "deep"--dabbling ineffectively in stereotypes, microaggressions, police brutality, symbolic cultural appropriation, the fetishization of Black pain, and gratuitous violence towards Black (and Brown) people.


*Gags*


WHY DO YOU ALL DRAW US IN HISTORICALLY OFFENSIVE & STEREOTYPICAL WAYS?


What am I saying here?

I'm saying that if these Asian creators have the audacity to conjure us up in their anime that they should at least do it CORRECTLY---hell, I'll settle for accurately!


Don't just:

Follow the history of portraying Black and African people in Little Black Sambo styles!



Apologists: If you wish to cite their ignorance (lack of exposure to and familiarity with Black people and their features) as the reason why they couldn't draw us accurately or respectfully, then I have the following questions for you: Did you know Google was free? They could have at least done a little research before they just started scribbling racist renditions of Black people!


And don't you people dare insinuate that they don't have the skill or the means to draw us well: I find it hard to believe that two-toned, thicker lips or monotoned (skin-matching) lips are too much for the mangaka etc. to handle! If they can draw slick-ass, smooth-ass shit for Psycho Pass, and if the Koreans can come up with the art for Noblesse, then they can draw us too. FOH. Honestly, what is this???


WHY DID YOU DRAW CHARACTERS IN OUR LIKENESSES AND MAKE THEM PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE FEAR?


In one of the earlier episodes, y'all have Carole & Tuesday trespass in Skip's pre-performance trailer area. When they notice they were trespassing, you introduce him (Skip) to us (the viewers) as a big, menacing fellow. Fear is written all over Tuesday's face (who, as usual, hides behind Carole). Y'all even have Carole looking "spooked" for no good reason. You make Skip's steps heavy as he approaches the girls from the shadows--


Did you all really have to entertain the big, scary, Black male (visibly, the "buck") stereotype? Did you have to go as far as you did with the Sambo microaggression (the lips)? You choose to draw a Black man in this burly ape-like way, and then you put him in a yellow (of all colors) jumpsuit? So...are you telling me that we aren't supposed to remember our racist conditioning (especially in the West) and fail to connect the concept of apes to bananas? Are you people really insulting our intelligence like that?


Look at his hair! Are those "dread" locks (locs) or braids? If they are braids, then why didn't y'all draw them all the way through? If a braid is on a white-skinned character (and I say white-skinned to be all-encompassing of whatever non-Black identity these characters hold since the Japanese like to draw themselves with Euro-centric features in anime--) y'all go out of your way to show us each twisted strand of the braid. But on a Black character? Braids (or locs) are reduced to crude shapes. Just look at what they've got going on Carole's (the Black girl) head!


Let's say that we like the locs. If we like them, the next question is: how come so many of the central Black characters (Carole, Ezekiel, Skip) have them?


Too lazy to draw anything else, huh?


By the way, what were y'all tryna say with Crystal (below)?


Would it have killed y'all to give Crystal Black hair? In this whole anime, ain't nobody have solid black hair except for 'Edna Mode' (aka Tao)! But every other living thing's hair was blonde.


*Eyeroll*


(I know this is a tiny thing, but details matter guys. This is a weird trend that I've noticed in anime--they hardly ever let Black characters have normal Black features! They always gotta stupefy something!)


I mean, look at this character, who they called GGK:



Come on now.


This girl looks just like this alien emoji to the left.


Tell me I'm lying.


You know what? I'm not even gonna say anything else about her.



Anyway, y'all do all this this work to make Skip a burly, scary thing and then you make him sing in falsetto?


You can't tell me that y'all weren't using that to juxtapose how he looked on the outside to what was on inside. Ferocious vs. soft--masculine vs. feminine, etc. What the hell is wrong with y'all? How can you all choose to normalize visibility of Black people in your anime (a rare thing in an of itself) but then actively choose not to normalize building Black characters outside of the dusty stereotypes made up by White supremacists???


Why do you PERSIST in drawing Black people in these offensive ways? Why do you people INSIST on entertaining stereotypes to build Black (or Brown-skinned) storylines?

Why did you all arrange the anime to cue that the white-skinned characters like Tuesday and her mom should receive our sympathy when they really didn't need it (and arguably don't deserve it)? Tuesday (the White girl) was from an elite family on Mars. She was the child of a rich politician. She had ALL the means necessary to make her dreams come true. It's nobody's fault but her's (not even her stern mother's) that she never made her dreams come true before she ran away and met Carole (the Black girl). She's young, white, pretty, rich, and WELL-CONNECTED...what else did she have to do but insist, nay, ask--for what she wanted? Instead? She sat there twiddling her thumbs, LOLZZZ!!!!!


Why all the psychological and emotional attempts at manipulation?


In the first episode, she runs away from home (being inconsiderate and narcissistic, as colonizers tend to be) creating a potential scandal for her mother (who in the in the distasteful, feminist fashion of Hillary Clinton is an who is running for public office).


And so she arrives--

The blonde MC:


A girl named Tuesday, an iNnOcEnT (filthy rich) girl in a big city with nothing but her (high-tech) suitcase and a dReAm of sharing her "gift" with the wOrLd (wtf does that even mean???).


Cue! Tear-jerker!


In her oblivion, this idiot gets her suitcase stolen, and boo-hoo, now she has nOtHiNg. She wanders around (pathetically), decked in a lolicon get-up, wondering if FiNdInG HeRsElF was 'worth it'.


*Yawn*


Then she runs into Carole, who is singing with a collapsible keyboard on a bridge. Tuesday is blown away, and chooses Carole as her new host.


Learning that this thing (Tuesday) is stranded, Carole opens up her home to Tuesday.

Tuesday squats in Carole's house for the next 6 months as they work towards their goal of becoming singers together. She NEVER contributes A DIME despite being loaded. She doesn't lift a finger to help maintain anything either. As a matter of fact, 25% of the 2nd episode was dedicated to showing us how INEPT Tuesday was at even cleaning up after herself! (This is shameful, yet, the creators of this anime establish her inability to clean up after herself in way that's intended to inspire amusement and/or pity.)

*Eyeroll*


All Carole had asked her to do was to tidy up, but instead of walking into a tidy house evening, Carole came back to an even bigger mess than what she left behind.


But of course! Carole, hot, young mammy that she is, was never overtly displeased with Tuesday. She actually grew quite fond of her little parasite. As I mentioned, not only would Tuesday run behind Carole when frightened to use her as a shield, Carole herself often extended her arms to make sure that she would become a more effective one. The first instance that we see of some reciprocation from Tuesday is a cheap-ass lil snow globe birthday present that she gets Carole over a year later after they meet!


Tuesday NEVER got one job to help pay the bills. Yet, Carole worked two jobs at a time to pay her bills! Do the creators of this anime really mean to make us all sit here and act like just because Tuesday's luggage was stolen, that all her belongings (including money and resources) were gone? If that's the case, then how was she switching outfits throughout the series? Where did the funds for new outfits come from if they took all her money (and access to her money) when they stole her suitcase?


Let's hopscotch right quick, since we're on our last leg standing trying to make this make sense:

At one point, Tuesday is nabbed by her mother's employees and sequestered at home. (Recall that she is a minor who just up an ran away.) She spends the bulk of this time wallowing in white woman's tears in her room, before deciding to escape with the help of her brother (a momma's boy and Harvard grad). NOT ONCE did we see her attempt to take anything that would help her "friend" Carole (who was living paycheck-to-paycheck), not even ONE Martian dollar!


Talk about Black Labor, White Wealth.


With all the action that it took for Tuesday to be captured, sequestered at home and escape, she was never harmed once. But Carole was: Did y'all see how they had a grown (Black?!) man knock her to the ground in episode 11???


Yeah. Let's chat about the violence against Black and brown-skinned people in this anime.


THE FETISHIZATION OF BLACK PAIN

As they rose in their stardom, Carole's life history came out in the wash. Carole was an orphan from a refugee camp on Earth who got a chance to immigrate to Mars. While growing up in the orphanage on Earth, she was subjected to micro-aggressions from her peers. For example, one particularly pesky peer was bullying her and Carole decided to throw them hands cuz she had had enough of his harassment. While physically fighting Carole, he grabbed her hair and pulled it, referring to it as "bubble gum hair" (which at the time, was in two "mickey-mouse balls" of her braid-locs). Long story short, they stopped the tussle just as Carole was just about to drag him on the floor like a dirty mop.


Later on, we found out that Carole's mom was dead, and that her father (Black male) was???


You guessed it--

A convict.

Figures!


In the span of the a mere 24 episodes, they brought up Carole's past (a source of pain that she had worked desperately to alienate herself from) at least four to five times in different public spaces in front of strangers. In contrast, nobody dug into Tuesday's past like that except once. Furthermore, if I'm not mistaken, Tuesday was able to lie her way past that trial.


For the rest of the day, after she lied about her background on television, Tuesday looked lost in thought.


Just like a fool, I sat there and assumed that she was re-evaluating her behavior. You know, now seeing how selfish and inconsiderate her behavior was in light of Carole sharing about her bleak past. Like an idiot, I thought that she would find a way to be more grateful about stable socioeconomic status and loving parent that she had... But you know what this little sociopath responded with after Carole asked her why she was so pensive? Tuesday said:


"I'm jealous of you."


Jealous???

Jealous?!


You mean to tell me that Ms. Lolicon's brain was cranking all afternoon and that's what it spat out?! That was the best she could do??? TF?!!!! You know what??? WHY AM I SURPRISED? After all:



The most disturbing parts of the anime occurred from episode 13 onwards. Carole, Tuesday, and their toad of a manager travel to what looks suspiciously like an inner-city ghetto. And what do most of the people who populate this place look like?


You already know: mostly brown skin.

And you know where Tuesday's ass was at when they saw some iNtImiDaTiNg men in the neighborhood (mostly Black). Exactly: she was right behind mammy (Carole).


In another scene, the girls and their manager are at a a venue that they have been invited to perform at. Then their manager, alarmed, stops them in their tracks, telling them that they should avoid a small group of guys.

Their manager refers to the group as "...wannabe gangsters, better stay away from them." Later on, in their dialogue, Tuesday and the manager graduate them from "wannabe gangsters" to actual "gangsters".


Tuesday's racism activates again. She feels that she is in need of protection, so, as usual, she takes cover behind Carole.


But Carole, recognizing Ezekiel, just strolls over on some: "I remember you, you're Amer, we used to be friends. HI!!!" type of time.


Ezekiel, as he now calls himself, acts brand new and strolls off. Carole doesn't give up trying to reconnect. When Ezekiel relents, they agree to meet up.


Then here comes Tuesday trying to keep her host: "Are you really gonna see him? When Carole responds with a "yeah, why not?' Tuesday goes: "Because they were gangster-like."


What is it about this weird obsession with characterizing these brown people that were in the rap scene as gangsters? Where was the evidence that they were? Furthermore, why the hell were they Black-phishing with this kid Ezekiel (real name Amer Souleyman), who was clearly some kind of west or south Asian? Why did the creators of this anime go to such lengths (through Carole) to discredit Ezekiel's 'gangsta' after labeling him harder than a name tag?


At this point in the story (around episode 22) tensions are flaring in Martian politics because Tuesday's mother is embracing and inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric to help her win the election. She rebukes 'selfish' artists who make music to suit their own agendas. While her mother is showing of her xenophobia, Tuesday and Mama's Boy (her older brother) are made to vouch for her character. According to them, she doesn't mean what she says. She wants to stop too. Somehow, as she spews xenophobic rhetoric, she's a victim too.


Blah, blah, blah.


Ezekiel drops a rap song amidst the searing political climate. He seemed to be talking that resistance stuff, but it was hard for me to focus with the following little tidbits:


Ezekiel is 'blackish', a rapper, was characterized as a gangster...

...and now, dropped a viral rap song that contained the words "monkeys", "crack" and "riots".


*Eyeroll*

Skimmed through Black American history, have we?


The scene looked ripped out of the Straight Outta Compton movie: Ezekiel and his friends are sitting around quietly. The cops bust into their vicinity wearing riot gear. When they recognize Ezekiel as the rapper from the viral video, they resort to police brutality to arrest him and his friends. Next thing we know, Ezekiel is in jail, and is due to be deported back to Earth.


And of course, things wouldn't be complete without showing us the jailbird Black man stereotype.


Ezekiel makes a song that is largely a message to Carole. The video is shot of him while he was behind bars. He was deported soon after (back to a ghetto on Earth somewhere). Skip, who I would classify as a Neo-Soul artist, was arrested and jailed with his entourage soon after for NO REASON.


*Sigh*


I've been an anime fan for over a decade. Part of what got me hooked (besides the fact that I liked the art) was the fact that I could escape my reality with it. These days, it's increasingly difficult to do so as an African centrist and a student of pro-Blackness because of the mounting anti-black and afrophobic microaggressions in anime. I don't know how it needs to be done, but we've gotta get these mangaka and anime creators to stay in their lane until they've been trained to comprehend the issues around not only Blackness under white supremacy, but ultimately, of African-ness under white supremacy.