The beauty of anime is similar to that of Hip Hop. The greatest aspects of both display an aesthetic struggle through art. When the two are used in the same medium they combine into great works of art. Here is a list of the few examples where aspects of Hip Hop spill into the anime format.
Samurai Champloo – Shinichiro Watanabe
If you’re familiar with the work of Jun Seba (Nujabes) than you’re probably familiar with this anime. One of many famous creations of Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop & Kids on the Block) the anime fuses Hip Hop with Edo Japan in an action filled dramatic story of two opposite sword-wielders being hired to help a ditzy waitress find a mysterious samurai who smells of sunflowers.
“I’ve been interested in hip-hop since it first appeared: the fact that it was born not in the music industry but on the street, the idea of using a turntable as an instrument, singing vividly about reality instead of typical love songs, and its links to graffiti and dance,’ Mr. Watanabe said in an interview by e-mail message. ‘I believe samurai in the Edo period and modern hip-hop artists have something in common. Rappers open the way to their future with one microphone; samurai decided their fate with one sword.” – nytimes
The Boondocks – Aaron McGruder
Based on Aaron McGruder’s award winning comic strip this may be the most known Hip Hop themed animation to date. The story is about Robert Freeman who moves with his politically civic minded grandson Huey and his gangster rap influenced brother Riley from the South Side of Chicago to the predominantly white suburb of Woodcrest.
Highly controversial and critically acclaimed the animation has more Hip Hop elements than its comic-strip counterpart with its Jazz and Hip Hop soundtrack as well as its constant critique of Hip Hop influence on U.S. culture.
Afro Samurai – RZA
Inspired by soul or hip hop the story follows a samurai with an afro who witness his father (labeled the no. 1 fighter) killed before his eyes. It was inspired by american media and Yasuke (an African samurai). The anime is based on a Japanese manga but the animation is american with a soundtrack containing the RZA and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson.
Tokyo Tribe 2 – DJ Muro
The plot takes place in modern Japan as two former friends in two separate tribes are forced to fight each other.
Although Hiroshi Fujiwara is claimed to have introduced to Japan in the 1980s and manga (Japanese graphic novels) and animation tend to reflect pop culture, a Hip Hop didn’t appear in manga until 1997 with Santa Inoue’s “Tokyo Tribes”. Influenced by such films as Juice Boyz N the Hood and the Wu-Tang Clan, Inoue weaves honor, loyalty, and turf ward into this manga turned animated story. Though the animation is more gang associated the extensive Hip Hop soundtrack and fused cultural references brings the theme to life.
Since Hip Hop and anime rarely coincide with each other, here are some other anime loosely based on Hip Hop through music or cultural reference.
Mitchiko and Hatchin: Slums, Beats, and Visual but not quite there.
Katanagatari: Soundtrack occasionally fuses Japanese-style music with Hip Hop, that’s it.
Tenjou Tenge: The opening sequence has a Bboy-esque feel, as seen in the gif above.
Have you seen any of the anime on the list or see any missing that you want to add?? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!!