As one of the most anticipated anime of 2022, Spy x Family has attracted countless fans since its debut on Crunchyroll.
While it has received a lot of acclaim and even made it to the Top 10 anime of all time, the series has already become entangled in much of the controversy. Some have even gone so far as to claim that the anime production committee should have “canceled” Spy x Family over the anime portrayal of Anya Forger. (See the australia business blog stories in the links for more details.)
The latest of these controversies came when popular Twitter artist, @SoulKingLives, shared a piece reinventing Anya as a young black girl. His image shows Anya from Spy x Family with a darker skin tone with accessories often seen in traditional black hairstyles.
Making Loid Forger Black was the next in the series to re-imagine the three main Spy x Family characters as African American.
On April 20, 2022, a Black Yor Forger completed the family. The team is now complete with Mama and Papa Forger on the scene!
At the time of publishing this article, the original post about the Black Anya Forger has gone viral with over 20,000 likes. However, the comments below paint a different picture. Fans are calling @SoulKingLives racist and claiming a double standard against artists who choose to race anime characters when they illustrate them.
How have fans reacted to the Spy x Family black art?
Reviews for the piece have been mixed. While the piece has gone viral, there are numerous quotes below the post that both praise and condemn @SoulKingLives. Many also question the practice of race bending in general.
Some popular responses include this tweet from @DeaunteOnterio questioning the receptivity of the anime community as a whole.
However, other comments took the opportunity to make disparaging comments about black artists.
In general, there were many positive reactions, but also many negative ones.
What is anime race bending?
To fully understand the controversy, one needs to understand the terms thrown around on Twitter.
First conceived in response to the live-action casting of the series Avatar: The Last Airbenderthe term refers to when white actors were cast as characters believed to be of ambiguous Asain-decent.
It was first a term to describe when traditionally ethnic characters were rearranged as white. The word has now become a slang term to describe “fans who pour color characters into traditional white franchises.”
This practice should not be confused with the term “money laundering”, which is referred to as the practice of casting white actors in non-white roles. While both terms are similar in nature, one often refers to the practice of fans casually re-imagining their favorite characters as other ethnicities, while the other attempts to point to the deliberate racism of marginalizing people and characters of color in the entertainment industry. .
Is drawing Anya Forger art from Spy x Family as Black racist?
Some have argued that portraying Anya Forger as black is inherently “racist”, but is it so? In short, no.
This controversy stems from the idea that if characters of non-white origin shouldn’t be recast as white, how fair is it to reimagine traditionally white characters like any other race?
The discrepancy stems from the fact that these two practices are often confused with each other.
Performers who commemorate characters as a different race don’t intentionally ruin a POC actor’s potential to portray them. When performers race, they have no direct impact on the livelihoods of others. They do not infringe on the rights of others, nor do they support a system that does.
They just make art, which is often open to interpretation.
While not every fan is on the same side of this controversy, one thing is for sure, Spy x Family is sure to get a lot of attention.
New episodes of Spy x Family premiere every Saturday on Crunchyroll.