(Titles for this article I also considered were “Black and White,” “Soul Brothas,” and “Fuck Da Gotei”)
|Somehow I think this guy ain't gonna be inspiring many cosplay renditions.|
I don't know if you've been reading the latest chapters. They have been, for the most part, the same old clusterfuck of meaninglessness (will any of this goddamn fights actually matter down the road?). But since Mayuri's around, they've managed to scintillate a not imperceptible mote of enjoyment value. Plus, zombies.
|Why the dead people gotta be black!?|
Well, I'm sure he won't have to suffer anyone immobilizing him
|Attack From Beyond!|
Don't panic, Hitsu! I'll come back with the popcorn as soon as I can!!
|god just walk it off|
Yes yes, that was all very amusing. But soon, the familiar specter of perpetual disappointment was to yet again rear its ugly head. The Sternritter named Pepe just had to bust in and shoot his love gunk all over our good times.
|“I remember the first time I saw our esteemed Lord, as a wee baby. My first reaction was 'it ain't mine.'”|
|At least it's a heart to the cheek, and not a star through the solar plexus.|
And of course, he uses this INSANELY HAX POWER to kill his own comrades.
|Damn girl you must have been schlicking like CRAZY|
In case you needed a reminder, this is what Nanana Najahkoop looks like.
|He should consult ol' Ass Nuts for some intimidation tips.|
|"If only other people ever mattered. Sighh."|
|Love that grin though|
|In fact are we sure he's not Nanana?|
|"Ouetsu Nimaiya." Like even fans will remember that shit|
This seems to be one of Kubo's character design obsessions. The funky, wacky, weirdo black guy. Most of them have some hint of dignity to them though. Not so Pepe!
|"Love is like a battlefield. By which I mean to say, I destroy your anus with my obsidian missile until it's a red afterimage baked into the dust."|
|"Match rating... 100%!?"|
|Well, ever since I opened my JUMP to a random page and saw that many-teated Nen beast from HxH, I've been desensitized.|
"Mommy I don't like heaven anymore. I'm going to give myself over to sin now Mommy"
By the way, it amuses me how even beards get super forms.
|Pepe's papa. Don't ask.|
Speaking of reducing, have you noticed that every other black person in this series is either 1) a flamboyant entertainer-type or 2) a repellent monster-clown? There ARE some cool black characters, but you can't deny it's a noticeable trend. And there's one character in particular who swims to mind when talking about Pepe. Ugh, I can't QUITE picture him but he's so similar to Pepe! Well, I'm sure it'll come to me.
Actually, why don't we take this opportunity to gauge the stereotypicalness of some of the series's black characters?
As it so happens, I have designed the perfect metric for just such a thing. It is the Blacula Scale of Respectability.
Level 5: Blacula
Level 4: Sammy L.
Description: Sammy L. is a damn entertaining actor, but he's always been a bit of a cartoon.
Level 3: Zippity Doo Dah
Description: A sort of positive portrayal, but still somewhat smacks of condescension.
Level 2: Mr. Popo
Level 1: Minstrel Show
That's right—I'm gonna give you the expert analysis of racial undertones that only I, the whitest dork on the planet, can provide. My writers workshops tremor with anticipation.
Now, lest I find myself hurtling down a slippery slope crafting ten-generation bloodline charts and rounding the mestizos up into the truck with a whip while weeping, I'll keep it intolerably simple and define “black” as “characters with a skin tone. Any skin tone.”
Also, disclaimer: I'm fully aware the indignation I feel towards black people being reduced to vaguely condescending jokes, contrasts with (faux-)racist jokes to come, and that probably amounts to having my cake and eating it, too. What can I say, I'm a bad person! <----- LOL!!
|"Here, I got you some WHITEHEAD REMOVER!"|
|Why she gotta be a black cat!?|
Kidding aside, she's probably the coolest character of the bunch. Kung fu sexy kick wooo! She even had a huge impact on two of our captains, igniting thoughts of the bees and bees in Soi Fong and teaching Byakuya that occasionally moving at the speed that's opposite to his usual “a foot in the grave” languor can prove a fun change of pace.
There need to be more black chick characters as kickass as her! She isn't quite Blacula level but she's enjoyable and she makes my peeny sproing out of its denim cell with a grand electric discharge.
|"3!? Where's the third one!?"|
There are three things we can puzzle over in our quest to understand Halibel and her scope in the great question of black people in BLEACH, or “bleack people.” (Well, five things, but let's put those two.)
Number one: She's got a wicked shark design that she loses when she releases. Weak. It'd have been way cooler if she'd taken on even more shark aspects, as opposed to, you know, conveniently transforming into a Sports Illustrated cover. Well, that's more of a gender comment I guess, but still, even Neliel's release is like a goat-centaur thing.
Number two: She got backstabbed by Aizen for no reason other than LOOK I'M SO EVIL! Talk about a character without agency, jeez. Bet those jumblies cushioned the fall though. So she could live another day!! Maybe now she could forge her own way in life!?
Number three: She is now shackled to the Vandenreich's devious designs.
|Wouldn't she logically be in her unreleased form?|
|Yes! The perfect ability for a ghost boobs wet T-shirt contest!|
|Must... complain... yet... must not complain... circuits... frying!!|
Do you think ratings grabs can be stuffed in the boob compartment?
|Why that hand gotta be black|
Also mitigating Hachi's omg stop sharecropping factor? The fact that he's pulled off one of the legitimately badass moves in the series. He killed an unstoppable corroder of flesh, death incarnate, by teleporting its own digits of decay whence they came. He didn't, for instance, pepper his body with super energy crotch beams and scream “FUNK IS POUND HOLES! FU_K ATTACK!! ” only to succumb to Barragan's aging ability giving him AIDS and Flava Flav teeth. That could have been the course Kubo took, and I think we're all glad he was at the “god this is boring and not much of anything” phase of Fake Karakura when Hachi came to the fore.
|"Why are you all standing... on the same plane?? Gehhh"|
|I'm afraid this caption has only made the "staring at his nethers" problem even worse.|
It probably all boils down to Kubo's notion of Spanish-speaking people as “passionate and flashy,” as opposed to the relatively unemotional restraint of Japanese culture (direct displays of emotion during interpersonal relations are considered childish and Japanese guys are for the most part not affectionate with their SOs). Brown skin, therefore fab. The problem, as you well know, is that that's like thinking Japanese people are all crazy and weird just from watching NHK game shows or the like.
And, veering from race, I want to add that when a “gay” person shows up in Japanese media, it's almost always played for laughs as camp. They are treated like walking punchlines. There's some cross-bleed for “wacky” here from both the 'black” and the “gay” aspects to his design/writing.
I'm gonna slap Charlotte with a 2. Not really a worthwhile character in my opinion.
What, he's a zombie now? Of all the hunks of meat to store in your locker, Mayuri!
|He was a black, blind Japanese guy. Good luck finding a subreddit for THAT shit.|
I'm of a split mind here.
|No, not that kind of mind splitting! *Wah-woooh|
On the one hand, he's got a lot of things going for him. Effective explanatory backstory, a philosophy of justice, a cool sword power. He even earned himself a renewed mystique when we couldn't understand why he would betray Komamura and join Aizen.
On the other hand, Tousen just ended up being a huge letdown. What WAS that shit with him in Fake Karakura? Just unsightly.
I give him a 3... point 3.
|I can see why Chad hasn't done anything in a century. Byakuya definitely needed his four hundred billionth fight.|
|Every Omaeda fight could have gone to Chad. Just saying.|
Hey, I give Kubo tons of shit, but I have to give him this: At least he HAS black people in his fantasy series. A fair number of them, too. He may have some weird hang-ups regarding their design (when will Don Kan'onji #3 show up?), but they're harmless for the most part. All except for Pepe, he's just the worst.
That reminds me, I just can't remember the guy who reminded me so much of Pepe. He's on the tip of my tongue, and trust me, that's the last place I want him to be.
I swear I just saw him too, right after “accidentally” refreshing this blog for the 500th time today (Google... call me). I should scroll up.
HOLY GODDAMN JESUS IT'S
And now for...
TRIALS OF THE BLACK WITCH DOCTOR HALF-HOLLOW GUY
The world's against you, man!
"They took one look at me and turned me away for food stamps. Even after I insisted I could use my head spikes as an office hole-puncher for a day, or use them for picking up trash on the side of the highway, they still said I was, quote, “more pumpkin than human” and therefore ineligible. Racists."
C'mon officer! You know full well that no amount of narcotics would make me sprout EXTRA EYES to get dilated! Oh, those? Those are just soul pills."
"They say I'm just like Cinderella with her pumpkin carriage. Absurd. If you must know, each one of these eyes is a place I got shot by cops on the streets, after attempting merely to extract the necessary spiritual fluids from the elementary school piano recital for my amor potions. Do you think it's easy looking like this in prison!?"
"Do you know why I call my speed clones 'sonido'? Because bitches so-needy. Ba-dum tish! Now how many holes you need plugged baby?"
|"They got me for 'murder.' It was a set up! I only eat people who are already dead! I can't help it if sucking the soul out kills the body!"|
|"Goddammit, all I did was walk the dog! Already a double tasering! Maybe Mom was right and I should lose the necklace."|
|Get a new job, guys.|