How Anime Integrated into Historically Low Income Communities of Color and Latin America

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DATE RANGE: 1986-2018

Finding Aid created by Angel Ibarra, 2018

Copyright: Angel Ibarra


Storage Location:

Language(s): English, Spanish, Spanglish

Abstract: This is a compilation of anecdotes from anime fans in the the United States and Latin America, television broadcast lists, poverty patterns, and migration patterns to the U.S. 

History: This website was curated with the intention to trace how and why anime reached the homes of low income youth of color and Latin American youth. My upbringing and relations are heavily influenced by Japanese animation; I know I'm not the only one. In order to understand how this came to be and to define a new identity for low income youth of color, this project relies on anime fan posts based in Latin America as well as current discussions about Japanese animation in communities of color. 

Scope and Content: This project is centered around the significance of free broadcast TV as a means to distribute anime to low income communities of color and Latin America. It begins by questioning the arrival and integration of anime to these seemingly distant cultures and communities. It's followed by my own experience with anime then with how my experience is incredibly synonymous to many people in these marginalized communities and abroad. It provides images from real families and anime artwork done by a student who only grew up with broadcast networks. It's concluded with a popular video, "Hood Naruto," that speaks to the continual presence of anime in these communities of color.

Keywords: Anime, manga, Latin America, Television, Broadcast TV, immigrant patterns, Leonel Messi, Naruto, Dragon Ball, television abierta, saturday cartoons, 

                                                                          Works Cited: 


          “4Kids TV.” Wiikipedia. Accessed May 20, 2018.

            AngieBD. “Porque nos gusta tanto el anime?” Aminoapps. 24, March 2016. Accessed May 19, 2018.

            Arenas, Javier. Comment on “How popular is manga and anime in Mexico? How did manga/anime spread through Mexico?” Quora, 24, Dec. 2017.

            Barrett, Dominique. “ ‘Hood Naruto’ pt. 3 (full video) naruto vs sasuke.” YouTube, uploaded by King Vader, 12 March 2018,

            Edwards, Mark. Children living in an overcrowded slum watching television. N.d. Hard Rain Project. Hard Rain Picture Library.

            FernanDohko 2016. Pegasus Seiya - Saint Seiya (Exclusive). Found, in Deviantart 2016. Saint Seiya fan artwork. Accessed May 12, 2018.

            D.J. Kirkland. “About: Oh Hey, D.J.!” D.J. Kirkland. Accessed May 20, 2018.

            Hetellanstella. The Cycles of the Avatar. Found, in fanpop n.d. Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra fan artwork. Accessed May 12, 2018.

            Horcel, Thomas. “Dreaming of Glory: How Captain Tsubasa Inspired a Generation.” Everything is Futbol, 13, Aug. 2015. Accessed May 19, 2018.

           Jackson, Gita. “Why Black Men Love Dragon Ball Z.” Kotaku, 15 Nov. 2017. Accessed May 14, 2018.

            Joest, Mike. “SAINT SEIYA: The World’s Most Popular Anime You’ve Never Heard Of.” geektyrant. 2015. Accessed May 19, 2018.

            Kishimoto, Masashi creator. Date, Hayato director. Naruto: Shippuden. Studio Pierrot, 2007.

            Kishimoto, Masashi creator. Date, Hayato director. Naruto. Studio Pierrot., 2002.

            Kishimoto, Masashi. Naruto Episode #23, 2002. Found, @Sarutobii2 in Narutopedia, 21 June 2017, Accessed May 14, 2018.

            Kurumada, Masami creator. Morishita, Kozo and Kikuchi, Kazuhito directors. Saint Seiya. Toei Animation, 1986.

            “Lionel Messi Biography.” Biography Online. Accessed May 20, 2018.

            “List of United States over the air television network.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 20, 2018.

            Lopez, Mark and Velasco, Gabriel. “Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, Leads Nation.” Pew Research Center: Hispanic Trends. Accessed May 21, 2018.

            Rendon, Alejandro. “La Guerra del Anime en la TV Mexicana, Televisa le ha Ganado a TV Azteca?” Star Media. 9 Oct. 2017. Accessed May 21, 2018.

            Rinka-Chan. “La Historia del Anime en Mexico.” Aminoapps. 11, Dec. 2016. Accessed May 19, 2018.

            “Saint Seiya.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 20, 2018.

            Sanchez, Mariana. Comment on “How Large and Signficant is the anime fandom in Latin America.” Quora, 4 Aug. 2015.

            Takahashi, Kazuki creator. Kakudo, Hiroyuki director. Yu-Gi-Oh!. Toei Animation, 1998.

            Takahashi, Kazuki. Yu-Gi-Oh! Thumbnail. Found, @Rawgna73 in BlazBlue Wiki, 19 February, 2017.!_Duel_Monsters,_user_picture,_Rawgna73,_1).png. Accessed May 13, 2018.

            “Toonzai.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 21, 2018.

Toriyama, Akira creator. Chioka, Kimitoshi director. Dragon Ball Super. Toei Animation, 2015.

Toriyama, Akira creator. Kasai, Osamu director. Dragon Ball GT. Toei Animation, 1996.

Toriyama, Akira creator. Nishio, Daisuke director. Dragon Ball Z. Toei Animation, 1989.

Toriyama, Akira creator. Nowatari, Yasuhiro director. Dragon Ball Z Kai. Toei Animation, 2009.

Toriyama, Akira creator. Okazaki, Minoru and Nishio, Daisuke directors. Dragon Ball. Toei Animation, 1986.

            Toriyama, Akira. Dragon Ball series: Thumbnail. Found, @Beadtmdc in Dragon Ball Wiki, 17 September 2010. Accessed May 21, 2018.

            Vargas, Julia. Chiaotzu. 2018, stencil on loose leaf paper, Williamstown.

Vargas, Julia. "Re:Anime and Archives." Recieved by Angel Ibarra 20 May, 2018.

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In ways more than one, anime has been integral for my coming of age. Not only have I immersed myself in the genre, I've also made numerous friends and connections whenever the topic is brought up. Moreover, many of these new friends have also been low income persons of color. It wasn't until recently that I began to wonder: how did anime reach low-income youth of color?

My recollection of my childhood consists of tacos al pastor con Don Gilberto, Televisa en el canal 5, a whole lot of scratches, and Naruto and Yu-Gi-Oh. As i searched for blogs and discussions, I noticed that many of us shared a similar canonical visual entertainment; we all first engaged with anime through a similar platform--Saturday morning cartoon y la televisión abierta. 

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My first encounter and more

Naruto, Saint Seiya, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece, Dragon Ball, Inuyasha, Super Campeones, and Avatar: The Last Airbender; these animes were all present in my coming of age. My friends and I would wild out whenever we heard of the new Naruto fight scene coming out, when we hotly debated who would be the Avatar, or when new Yu-Gi-Oh cards were coming out. Without even recognizing it, anime had consumed my life. 

My family and were able to afford cable TV once I began seventh grade. Prior to then, I would watch CW 4KidsTV and Toonzai every Saturday morning religiously. The shows were lit. Watching Naruto struggle with his own identity and overcoming his loneliness made me feel that I can too--I admired Naruto. The bad ass Dragon Ball fight scenes riled me up so much I'd go outside and practice on a tree every Saturday after the show. At the end of the day, I just found myself enthralled with the art style, the music, and the under dog characters.

And in Mexico, Super Campeones--an anime about soccer--motivated me to go to la primaria y jugar puro retos. Televisa y TV Azteca were one of the channels I could watch in México too. They played all the good stuff: Super Campeones, Saint Seiya, Inuyasha, Poemon, y Dragon Ball. 

As I began to wonder how I even encountered anime I realized it was because (1) my family and I lacked the money to afford cable, (2) anime was always on broadcast TV, and (3) all my friends too only had access to broadcast TV. Anime permeated my life because we were too poor to afford your typical American entertainment. And when I could afford cable, those new shows just couldn't compare to the humor, the pain, the laughter, the joy, and the experience of anime. Through my poverty, like those around me and who look like me, anime was dispensible and it made me who I am today.



Children of color, especially from low-income backgrounds, experience childhood differently than the normative construct of childhood from their white peers. In Latin America too, many children are poverty struck and have limited access to first-world luxuries such as TVs. Yet we all have similar tastes in anime.

In the 80s and 90s, when many Latin American countries began to have TVs as normal household items, national broadcast networks filled the channels. In México, Televisa y TV Azteca eran gigantes. The anime giants that nearly any Mexican born in the 80s and 90s can name are Los Caballeros del Zodiaco, Sailor Moon, and Dragon Ball. Televisa and TV Azteca premiered these shows, due to cheap translation and licensing, and were thus available to any and every Mexican kids with a working TV. Because anime was available through these free broadcasts, la televisión abierta, they were accessible to the entire population, even those heavily impoverished. The rise in anime popularity promoted competiton between Televisa and TV Azteca to see who could air the most anime. As such, many fan bases arose which created an renowned anime culture throughout Mexico and Latin America.

Super Campeones, very present in Latin America because of it's spectacular depictions of soccer, has even influenced Leonel Messi. Messi was a son to a factory worker and a cleaner. In his younger years, in the 90s, he could not afford cable so he, too, relied on la televisón abierta for entertainment.

Here in the U.S., many children who couldn't afford cable also watched anime through these free broadcasting networks. In the black community, Dragon Ball was the rage. In Latino communities, Naruto was the inspiration. That is why anime is so widespread in these wildly distant and unrelated cultures; the Japanese animation studios were able to negotiate deals with broadcasting networks to air anime for free every week. And the consumers were low-income youth of color.

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Julia Vargas (drawing left), Williams College Class of 2019, mentioned that she never had cable growing up, only the free broadcast TV. Her limited access to broadcast TV introduced her to the visual world of anime. Her interests in anime also enabled her to become an artist, drawing both anime characters as well as abstract paintings.

D.J. Kirkland also explains that his primary influences to pursue comics were the shows he grew up: the Saturday morning cartoons and animes.



Anime remains present in historically marginalized communities.

The presence of free broadcast TV in the U.S. and Latin America enabled those who could not afford cable gain a new visual entertainment--anime. Our poverty allowed us to experience a visual experience that not only helped us mature in life, it allowed us to uncover a new identity. One in which anime and low income POC intersect through free broadcast TV.



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Pequeño México, Fort Worth, Texas