Anime has become increasingly popular – as if it wasn’t already before. The genre is now home to a new slate of shows, which incorporate elements from the world of hip-hop.
Hip-hop anime shows have taken center stage, captivating audiences with their unique blend of music, culture, and animation. These shows combine the pulsating beats of hip-hop with the visually stunning narratives that anime shows have become known for.
Here are some of the best hip-hop anime shows that have struck a chord with fans around the world.
Afro Samurai takes viewers on a non-stop ride. Created by Takashi Okazaki, the series follows the titular character, Afro Samurai, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, on a quest for vengeance. The series is not only filled with intense fight scenes, it also has an unforgettable soundtrack thanks to rap icon RZA, who co-produced Afro Samurai: The Album.
Samurai Champloo only aired for one season but its impact was undeniable.
The series follows three unlikely companions – Mugen, Jin, and Fuu – as they embark on a quest in search of the "samurai who smells of sunflowers." However, the show’s soundtrack is really what sets it apart from others in its genre.
Nujabes, a sound engineer who spearheaded the album, has become known for incorporating hip-hop-inspired beats into anime shows.
LaKeith Stanfield made his voice acting debut as Yasuke, an African samurai who served under Oda Nobunaga in Japan. The series seamlessly blends historical facts with supernatural fantasy as it is set against the backdrop of a war-torn Japan.
Yasuke explores themes of honor, resilience, and love as the titular character becomes embroiled in a quest to protect a mysterious girl with extraordinary powers.
Rapper Flying Lotus was responsible for the show’s soundtrack, which included features from Denzel Curry and Niki Rando.
‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’
For O.G. fans of manga, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a staple.
Originally produced as a manga series in 1986, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was reimagined as an anime series in 2012. The series follows the adventures of the Joestar family across various arcs, each featuring unique protagonists known for their magical abilities.
Japanese composer Yoko Kanno was intentional when it came to using hip-hop music in Cowboy Bebop.
"I wanted to play brass music that shook your soul, made your blood boil and made you lose it,” she told Red Bull Music Academy.
Yoko’s efforts paid off as Cowboy Bebop’s score includes beats that were obviously inspired by hip-hop. The show is celebrated for its blend of hip-hop elements and anime aesthetics.
Created by Aaron McGruder, The Boondocks is often regarded as a contemporary anime series with a hip-hop vibe.
The show, which follows the adventures of the Freeman family, navigates through socio-political commentary and cultural satire. The Boondocks stands as an animated masterpiece that incorporates aspects of hip-hop culture with the animation style that anime series have become known for.