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.
Authentic talent surpassing that of the masses is undeniable whether it’s in the mainstream, a cult classic, or in the ears of individuals throughout the community. Roxxy Haze is undeniable, and not just for the witty nerd material, but an everywoman brand of creative highly adept in acting, comedy, cosplay, music and more. The Toonami Top 5 limited series may have a plethora of defining talent per city, but it’s not hard for Roxxy Haze to shine and take the spotlight like the undeniable star she is.
As per her bio: “Comedian Roxxy Haze can only be described as what happens when you blend pseudo intellectualism with a raunchy Walt Disney fantasy. Her online content has been featured on Buzzfeed, Yahoo, CBS Radio, Vibe and more. Haze has headlined and featured all across the country, as well as performed with hilarious comedians, such as Brian Posehn, Baron Vaughn, Brandon T. Jackson, and more. Recently, Haze wrote, produced and directed her own web series, The Roxxy Haze Show, a comedy sketch showed focused on geek culture and pop culture. Haze also is the co-host on popular geek podcast, Nerd Love.”
MV: What are the basics that people should know about you?
RH: I’m from Missouri City, TX, a suburb of Houston. I am a stand-up comedian, actress, writer and cosplayer.
MV: Top 5 Anime of All Time? Explain why if you feel moved to do so.
RH: DBZ. It was the first anime I got into. Goku, even though he gets shit for being stupid, is one of my favorite characters. His mentality is how I model my comedy career. I’m always trying to beat myself. I’m not competing with other people (like Vegeta). I have Son Goku on the nimbus cloud tatted on my leg.
Hunter x Hunter. The writing is amazing. The character development is some of the best I’ve ever seen. I cried at the end of the Chimera Ant Arc, it’s perfect. Any show that can make me laugh, cry and think, I’m all in. Yu Yu Hakusho. I don’t even have to explain.
FLCL [Fooly Cooly]. That one has sentimental value to me. It’s an anime me and one of my best friends watched together. He got me into saying I reminded him of Haruko. I see the personality similarities. Also, it’s weird and hilarious. And last is MHA [My Hero Academia]. Runners up: Attack on Titan, Emma, Black Butler, FMA: Brotherhood. And Naruto. It’s classic shonen, and just like DBZ, it inspired a lot of other animes. Sorry, and Jojo [Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure] is on the runners up list.
MV: What are the 5 things that make a really good anime to you? (i.e Plot, Soundtrack, Animation Style)
1.) Character Development. I need to see the characters grow and develop, for better or worse. I want to see some change. That’s why Hunter x Hunter is so great. No main character (and even some of the side characters) started and ended the same. Killua’s was especially amazing to watch, when you go back and rewatch and see how his values change and how he grows into a better person because of Gon.
2.) Animation style. Look is always going to be important. If something doesn’t look good, I’m not going to want to watch it. Berserk is ugly as fuck. For me, this also includes color. Sailor Moon is one of my favorite animes to watch because it’s beautiful. I know we are primarily focusing on shows, but Studio Ghibli movies really resonate with us because of the style.
3.) Not that much filler. I HATE too much filler, especially when it fucks up the show or deviates too much from the manga (if I read it). Naruto is notorious for this!
4.) Good arcs. Going back to HXH, the Chimera ant is PERFECT. It was long, but it was very well crafted. Things made sense; you see character development within the arc. I want to feel like a complete story was told.
5.) Evokes emotion. When I watch a good anime, I need to feel something. I want to think about it after. If you can make people feel, you have them hooked. I’m a big fan of Victorian romance novels, so I recently watched Emma. It has a Jane Austen feel, but it was only like 24 episodes and it was slow, but it was beautiful. Made me feel love. Hunter x Hunter made me laugh and cry.
MV: Future Goals in your creative process?
RH: I’m working on an animated series, a sketch comedy show, a novel and a whole lot of other stuff. Long term, I want what most comedians want: a comedy special, a TV show, act in movies, etc. but I like to do a lot of stuff, so eventually I want to put out a full rap album [and] start my non-profit, Reading with Roxxy, to promote literacy through cosplay. I love writing so I would love to write full time [including] screenplays, novels and I’m working on a children’s book series. I just like doing everything I can, it helps with the ADHD. Oh yeah, and I want to own a dispensary, haha.
You rarely meet a storm like Roxxy Haze. However, like a Shonen Protagonist who fantastically proves their point every time when it counts, you have to respect and support greatness when you see it.
You can follow the incredible art and wonderful mind of Roxxy Haze on her social media platforms.
Twitter, IG, Facebook: @iamroxxyhaze