The Mangaka That Will Pierce the Heavens! Meet HBCU Grad-DMV Native AnimeBae and the Black-Owned Manga/Anime, "Akai"


Original character design from AnimeBae’s manga/anime called Akai.
*cue iconic opening song and narrator voice*

This isn’t the story of how AnimeBae became the greatest hero alive, but this unlikely hero of Academia and undaunted determination has an enthralling story on the same scaling of your favorite manga/anime as he creates one of the first Black-owned and Black-made manga/anime in the world.

Anime is a brand of Japanese cartoon animation with worldwide popularity that draws most of its inspiration from Japanese comic books (manga). A mangaka is the official name for the author of a manga. For the past 30 years, this Japanese cultural staple has enraptured the entire globe with its plethora of uniquely quirky worlds, legendary action, esoteric characters, and magnificent art styles of all types of manga and anime. The phenomenon has broken barriers to become translated into live-action films, cosplay conventions, journalism, academia, and so much more. The West’s introduction to manga and nime came through the classics of Akira, Ninja Scroll, Speed Racer, the Dragon Ball Franchise (DB & DBZ), the Big 3 (Naruto, One Piece, Bleach), Ruronai Kenshin, YuYu Hakusho, and countless more mangas/animes.

The Shonen Jump Big 3 Minimalist by keanungas

As much as we indulge in all of the joys and wonders from the manga/anime world, many of us do not know the gravity of intricacies of pulling off extraordinary animes i.e OSTs, animation studios, network distributions, marketing, teams of animators and writers, voice actors, cohesive plot development, memorable dialogue, etc. It is not an easy task at all, which leads us to the hero of our story today who is not only already in a historic lane all of his own, but lived a life strikingly similar to his own manga/anime heroes.


ARC I: AnimeBae Origins

Currently 25-years old, Anfernee Robinson hails from the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, most commonly known as the DMV area: home of the “Jhi-like’s”, mumbo sauce, “beating ya feet,” vicious glizzy’s and Go-Go music blazing in the streets from the sun-up until sundown. He’s from Prince George’s County (one of the richest countries for African-Americans and the United States) in Upper Marlboro although he was raised in Washington D.C.

AnimeBae, like many African-American millennials, was first socialized to the world of manga/anime through the Big 3 of manga/anime in the West as shown on the United States platforms of Toonami in their Saturday night lineups and YouTube via AMVs (animated music videos) to 2000s pop-rock classics–shout out to Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy. #IYKYK

Seeing AMVs of the Forest of Death Arc of the Naruto anime made AnimeBae say “This is the dopest show ever.” These AMVs allowed for him to funnel his time into binge-watching the series, dwelling into YuYu Hakusho and DragonBall Z. However, even as AnimeBae went outside of mainstream Anime Culture, Naruto truly foreshadowed with how AnimeBae would carry himself and his undaunted ambition towards achieving his goals.

At WISE School in the DMV, AnimeBae started off as a basketball player rising in ranks through the summer league and becoming a young star by defying all odds even as an entering Freshman.

Starting out as an Engineering major in college and experiencing halts in his basketball career as he described to me, AnimeBae then transferred to University of Maryland Eastern Shore (an HBCU) where he ended up switching majors and graduating with a degree in Sociology. He would work at the American Physics Center and as a Project Coordinator, finding his passion working with children. It wasn’t until his car broke after graduating from UMES and was he let go from his job that AnimeBae underwent post-grad depression.

The origin story is told for a few reasons that relates that relates to the canon of manga/anime in a wonderfully charismatic way:

Typically, a manga/anime classic starts off with a protagonist who lives an average life in their local city, going through the motions of real life, heartbreak, disappointment, and shortcomings of one’s true talent and potential. These situations can make or break champions. However, pressure builds diamonds, and diamond is unbreakable; word to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. What’s meant to be is meant to be, even a setback for a bigger set up. It is during these down portions of our lives that we become intimate with the deepest parts of ourselves that we would not have noticed as deeply if we were preoccupied with simply keeping up with the world. One beautiful aspect about the most compelling manga/anime characters is that they discover their extraordinary talents that can take them to the top during these times. AnimeBae also fits within this eclectic paradigm and formula for victory.


ARC II: Connecting Combos

During his depressive period, AnimeBae would seriously get into his chakra-rich bag with Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. He would play online until he unintentionally–yes y’all, please get ready–moved up to #2 in the entire world for top competitive players of the game. While this may seem insignificant to someone outside the gaming world, competitive gaming is a 21st century hustle requiring the most meticulous of skills in accordance with great payoffs (contest prizes, corporate endorsements, etc.)

AnimeBae garnering the #2 ranking in the world for players of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4.

The spotlight shined upon the unlikely champion, and phone calls from AnimeBae’s fans and peers were coming in en masse, pressuring him to get a YouTube and brand himself more. During his time in the local PlanetFitness, AnimeBae would meet with DMV Rap Superstar Wale–yes, Wale due to the brother of Wale tipping off his older sibling about the prowess of the talented Black gamer making a splash. Not being star struck, AnimeBae would listen to Wale’s offer to work together on future projects.

DMV Rapper Wale cosigns AnimeBae on in lieu of upcoming contest at the time.

MV: How did it feel being wanted all around–as both a competitor and ally?
AB: Everyone wanted a chance to gun at AnimeBae.

Life took off for the DMV native turned manga/anime protagonist as he would go on to EVO 2018, compete nationally, travel to 39 out of 50 states in the U.S, compete against Lupe Fiasco, and more feats in the greatest come-up arc never aired on Funimation and connecting combos never before streamed on Twitch.

AnimeBae pictured at EVO2018.

MV: How did you keep up with yourself?AB: Although things came at me fast, I always studied my craft.

AnimeBae would continue to train himself in video editing, network with a plethora of companies and gaming legends, and more with a Wale/Industry stamp under his Champion belt as he also moved into the competitive dimensions of Dragon Ball Fighter Z, Jump Force and the My Hero Academia game as well.

AnimeBae pictured at EVO2018.

ARC III: Genesis of Akai

By October 2018, with corporate endorsements, a fanbase and his entire life ahead of him, AnimeBae’s mindset began to evolve beyond an influencer to creator, following through with the jarringly ambitious idea to create one of the first Black manga/anime as owned by himself. People may question as to why the emphasis on the racial factor to this accomplishment and the answer proves itself in our society today: With a disgustingly large amount of anti-blackness in mainstream U.S media in our “post-racial” society (police brutality’s viral showcasing from 2012 to present day), researched presentations highlighting racial discrimination still present in our modern institutions (i.e Ava Duvernay’s “When They See Us” documentary), and platforms never-before accessible to African-Americans that have allowed them more autonomy in every institution to change their narrative, AnimeBae’s presence in a field underrepresented by Black people but consumed en masse by Black people is exceptionally paramount. AnimeBae, realizing his newfound powers and privilege, even denied a return offer from a high-paying employer that he was let go for during his depressive episode as described earlier.

One of the most-popular cult classics in all of anime is called Guren Lagaan. With a boisterously hyper masculine archetypal masterpiece of a character named Kamina consistently telling the main character of the show, “Yours is the drill that will pierce the heavens!” This quote speaks on the power of persistence, poetically suggesting to the recipient to be so forward with their passion, no matter how earthly and simplistic it may seem, until they break past every conceivable barrier of expectation.

Kamina from cult classic anime Guren Lagaan.

You have likely seen AnimeBae’s expansive campaign through the months, revealing his art, plot, characters, merchandise, corporate endorsements, celebrity cosigns, and more in support of his original manga/anime series “Akai.” AnimeBae, for obvious reasons of creative protection and internet culture cultures, was only able to give me limited information regarding questions behind the highly anticipated and enigmatic series sure to make a splash in the manga/anime world. However, the global support of AnimeBae elucidates his level of influence and a point of motivation that he is meant to make this manga/anime happen, signified by his fundraising goal met as of recent and celebrity support.

AnimeBae reaching his first fundraising goal on July 1st, 2019.
AnimeBae premieres announcement of  Actor Michael Wright signing on a voice actor for his anime Akai.

“Akai” centers itself in a unique, euphoric and mysterious society. The society contains 3 tiers: Heaven’s Gate, God’s Guardians, and the 3rd middle tier that will be revealed as the story co. AnimeBae goes on further to explain to me what the character’s roles are, giving a sneak peak of the tournament fight and Akai spazzing out with his flame fist attacks.

Concept art for Akai as created and copyrighted by AnimeBae.



ARC IV: Epilogue of Akai and a Consistent Mangaka

I asked about AnimeBae’s ambitions given his impressive fears thus far. He plans to have his grand creation enter into Shonen Jump, being immersed into games, magazines, etc. With patents, merchandise, and art already done by himself, AnimeBae will continue to use the pen and ambition that will pierce the Heavens and make a lifelong legacy as worthy as the accolades of your favorite manga/anime.

> Maurice Valentino

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