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5 Animated African Shows We Need to Watch Right Now

Sep 07, 2021 10:30AM ● By Anand Subramanian

For many children and adults alike, the world of animation opened up a world of imagination. For African American children, seeing cartoons with Black stories and personalities is a huge deal, and it doesn't happen nearly enough. Representation is important, and seeing protagonists who look like them on television means a lot to the kids. These 5 animated shows made a difference in the lives of many children, whether they were showcasing social and political awakening or saving the world.

The Proud Family 

Between 2001 and 2005, The Proud Family aired on Disney Channel. Bruce W. Smith created this show, which is loosely based on his own family, which highlights an African American family living in the suburbs. The main cast is almost entirely made up of characters of color; they are not just extras. The main character is an African American female, and there is a focus on cultural clothing styles and hairstyles. Although the series is Afrocentric in nature, it did its part to be as inclusive as possible while also encouraging students to appreciate their families as they navigated puberty by including moral lessons about companionship, peer influences, harassment, dating, ethnic origin, traditional culture, gender discrimination, and community. The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder revival was announced in 2020 and will premiere on Disney+ in 2022.

Figure 1 - Visuals of The Proud Family. Source - Google

The Boondocks

The Boondocks was one of television's most immediate and prompt critiques of American culture. The show, an animated adaptation of Aaron McGruder's lengthy comic strip, accompanied Huey and Riley Freeman, two Chicago boys growing up in the predominantly White, affluent neighborhood of Woodcrest with their grandfather. The show premiered in November 2005 and was officially canceled in 2014. Every episode is hilarious, and each is a clever blend of hip-hop, humor, and an anime aesthetic. However, when you dig a little deeper, one discovers that the show has an opinion on a wide range of socio-political issues. McGruder created a show that showcased the diverse perspectives of people in the Black community. It discussed Black culture in a way that only another Black person could. He portrayed characters who were characterizations of different Black identities. All of these personalities were significant because they allowed McGruder to express various emotions and thoughts. The show's judgment was poignant and purposeful, but it still allowed the audience to form their own opinions.

Figure 2 - Visuals of The Boondocks. Source - Google

Bino and Fino

Bino and Fino is a children's educational cartoon in which a brother and sister, Bino and Fino, along with a magical Zeena Butterfly, learn about African history and culture. With Bino and Fino's insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge, there is always something new to discover, whether it's an African dish, an animal, a tropical lightning storm, or a vernacular parable. Adamu Waziri, the creator of Bino & Fino, noticed that there were no African-made children's cartoon shows on Nigerian television. There were no local cartoon shows in which children saw a reflection of themselves. All of the cartoon shows were foreign and had no connection to Africa. The Bino & Fino Cartoon Show was meant to help balance things out. This educational children's cartoon, created in 2008, has been translated into ten different African languages. Children of all cultures and colors can identify with these two joyful characters because their persistent questioning reflects every child's desire to learn. Its heartfelt goal is to bring Africa's rich culture and history into the lives and families of its audiences and users. Bino & Fino keeps its promise to improve kid's lives through learning and the strength of the relation.

Figure 3 -Visuals of Bino and Fino. Source - Google

Black Dynamite

Based on the critically acclaimed feature film of the same name, the Black Dynamite animated series follows the exploits of the central character, Black Dynamite, and his crew. Black Dynamite is a renaissance man from the 1970s with a kung-fu grip. He’s a lover and fighter who isn't afraid to leap before looking. Bullhorn, his brains, and cunning sidekick extraordinaire, compliment Black Dynamite's tough, knuckle style. This visually vibrant show features a distinct 70s color scheme as well as fluid and quick action. This show's satire is excessive, attempting the most outrageous gags it can muster. It's satisfying and, even in its most audacious instances, always feels like it's in on the joke. In between satire, the series displays a fleeting glimpse of societal value in the ethnically and sociologically charged plotline, which can lead to discussions about racial issues, economic hardship, violence, and substance use.

 Figure 4 - Visuals of Black Dynamite. Source - Google

Static Shock

Static Shock followed the conquests of African American adolescent Virgil Hawkins, who gains electromagnetism abilities and frequently fights crime. Dwayne McDuffie, a legendary comic book writer, wrote the Static Shock comic as well as the animated series. McDuffie collaborated as a writer and editor on the series with Denys Cowan from 2000 to 2004. Static Shock, like the comic it was based on, pushed the boundaries of its subject matter. Unlike many children's cartoons, it investigated issues such as gang violence, gun violence, racism, mental illness, and drug use. Everything is told through an almost comic-like cartoon color and style. Much of the animation feels a little flat in the first season, but by later seasons it becomes more analogous to what every one has seen in various DC animated shows.

Figure 5 - Visuals of Static Shock. Source - Google

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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