What y’all know about Toonami? Anime has never been a trend in the United States–it has always been THEE trend. Anime shows are just Japanese cartoons in a nutshell, but it’s a bit deeper than that, as written in the beginning of one of my last pieces on a modern Mangaka making waves in the DMV-area and beyond.
Toonami was a western machine of cartoon programming in which afternoons (and then later entire evenings) were blocked off to show select popular anime from Japan to US audiences in the late 1990s through mid-2000s on Cartoon Network. The host of the select time block, Tom, with his colloquial language, cool voice and futuristic Hip-Hop like design, was able to make anime cool for young audiences. It is through Toonami that Western audiences were first introduced to the Dragon Ball Franchise, Sailor Moon, Rurouni Kenshin, YuYu Hakusho, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach and more. Toonami has since now returned in the 2010s with a rebooted, rotating roster of new generational anime for the masses to enjoy.
Toonami was the reason *some* individuals were teased for running down middle school hallways Naruto-style and staging fake anime fights in public with their other weeb friends. If you saw Toonami marketing promotions, witnessed Tom’s hyping up of every show, enjoyed the lineups, caught the special series, and had the ability to come back to school next weekend to chat with your classmates and strangers about the premieres of the past weekend, you would understand why anime was massively popular on an entire generation of Americans of every demographic.
One thing about anime is that it was just as easily accessible back in the day as much as other Cartoon Network throwbacks, meaning if someone had basic cable, or had a friend that did, anime was easy to watch. Contrary to popular belief and conservatism from those in their own community, the African-American community (myself included) heavily indulged in anime for a multitude of reasons. Anime, as juxtaposed to many mainstream American programming archetypes, frequently explored concepts of poverty, racism, struggle, perseverance, comedy and more ways that African-Americans could relate to with the canon of their own experience in the United States. Anime has been so influential that it has permeated into other parts of mainstream culture in the past decade–such as rap and more forms of artistic expression.
Toonami Top 5 is limited journalist series by Maurice Valentino (yours truly) highlighting African-American creatives from every walk of life and talent, with rooted interests and inspiration from the television genre and programming that galvanized an entire generation. These are their stories.
Chris Cassius’ profile with the Toonami Top 5 series highlighted the creative juggernauts thriving within Baltimore, and KDotWood$ continues that trend with his electrifying personality and bigger-than-life labyrinth of a mind that is shaping his community (and world at large) for the better.
MV: What are the basics that people should know about you?:
KDW: I’m your average run-of-the mill, DYI nigga: I throw shows, make music, and creative direct.
Biggest accomplishment: One of the best shows thrown in Baltimore a.k.a Creme Brulee.
MV: Top 5 Anime of All Time? Explain why if you feel moved to do so.
Jojo [Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure], that shit just impeccable. The nigga [Araki, the creator of the franchise] be forgetting shit and making it up as he go and it be magic. Just like me at my shows, ya dig?
Number 2: That there muhfucking uhhhhhh FLCL [Fooly Cooly].
Let’s be real, it don’t get much better than that; it’s bizarre as fuck and the main character from the first one (it’s 3 parts) got some drip on him.
Number 3: Hunter x Hunter.
Do I really gotta say anything besides: Chrollo Lucilfer.
Number 4: Dangan Ronpa
I like that suspense and horror aspect mixed with detective work. It really showed its ass.
Number 5 is a banger, not gonna lie. I rewatch it a lot actually–Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple.
That nigga just like me for real: run-of-the-mill nigga who had some great masters.
MV: How have your favorite animes expressed themselves in your creative profession?:
KDW: Bro, my first tape as Oscvr Wow is called Grandma’s Death and if you look at it real closely, you’ll see the menacing Kanji and me standing like a Jojo, I put my foot in that bitch tbh. That was the first time I ever really wanted to do all my own shit. It felt right and Jojo just had that sense of individuality.
MV: What are the 5 things that make a really good anime to you? (i.e Plot, Soundtrack, Animation Style):
KDW: Character design has always been very important as well as dialogue. Anime just cinema, I enjoy things that pull me in, especially weak characters who don’t really get strong in power but strong in will. Like they learn to use everything they need without actually being super strong, like World Trigger is a prime example of that tbh. Its really something special. Tokyo Ghoul has one of the best character designs as well, like that nigga Kaneki had to die like 4 times in order to find himself, and thats how I be feeling. The two animes I mentioned are honorary mentions cause they real fire.
MV: Future Goals in your creative process?
KDW: Um, I’m working on probably the biggest project of all three personas combined, real summer shit. Something you can enjoy at the beach. It’s called Veloura and it’s about all the women in my life–all formed into being one entity. She made of velour cause you know ya boy love that cozy feel. I think this will let everybody know I’m not to be fucked with no more. I been dropping great content and music and people starting to recognize it again, and that makes me happy. I also think imma get a show or two out before the end of the year, real innovative shit. I might fuck around and start acting this year, who knows haha.
KDotWood$ has never ceased to be everything he says and more. We’ve had past interviews and past reviews of his work, and yet he continues to unbelievably evolve in branding, artist development with his musical talent and next steps as he, his team and Veloura gear-up to take the world by storm.
You can follow KDotWood$ on Twitter @Kdotwoods_ and on Instagram @kdotwoods.
You can find stream his latest project here, and find past and future releases from his social media pages.