I Still Love Chocolove


With news of a new Shaman King anime after all these years, people are talking. People are excited, they're feeling the love in the air. I can't lie, I'm feeling it too. There have been some great advances in anime since the 90s and 00s. It's going to be fantastic. But, with the announcement, some people are looking back, and they've discovered Chocolove McDonell. 

Chocolove is a young Black kid from New York City, but that isn't why people are talking. The thing that has caused an uproar is because of his depiction. Chocolove sports a pair of big thick lips that can easily be compared to those of the racist Sambo depiction of Black Americans. Additionally he sports a massive afro and large nose.

I won't sit here and say the depiction isn't racist. Everyone has to acknowledge that both the anime and manga were edited to change his lips to match other characters. While his facial features weren't edited in the anime, they were edited and many different versions of the video games. Clearly people knew there was an issue with the depiction even back in the 90s and 00s so this isn't a new issue. Even as a kid watching on Saturday mornings, it just didn't sit right with me.

With that being said, I still love Chocolove. People are still demanding for more representations of different races in manga, and anime. But, back then, as a kid Chocolove was one of the few brown faces in Saturday Morning cartoons(and anime). I lived for Ultimate Muscle but that doesn't change the fact that Intergalactic Wrestling Federation, didn't allow black wrestlers. Sonic X was great, but his only Black friend was Shadow. We went as far as claiming Namekians as Black people, and we still do, because everyone forgot about Uub. None of the Black kids could get Medabots

In that sea of white, yellow and orange tones, there stood one character that was undeniably Black. Chocolove McDonell was there, in kente cloth, praying to his ancestors and just being Black as fuck. I love Chcolove, bad jokes and all. I love Chocolove for the same reason older Black people love Bill Robinson, better known as Bojangles.

Bill was a Black man who rose to fame for acting in roles that were described as "Uncle Toms." Often exaggerating racist characteristics of Black people. Still, people loved him. The reason being is what Nas states simply, "we love Bojangles, because we know what he came through." Bojangles, lost both his parents at a young age and was raised by his grandmother, a former slave. Realizing she wasn't in a position to raise Bill and his brother, he ran away to Washington DC, from Harlem, at age 12. He worked odd jobs until he joined the military, where he was shot during friendly fire. Afterwards he pushed and pulled to make it in show business. All while receiving not but pure vitriol and hate from white filmgoers and sometimes his own costars. At one point he was set up and framed for stealing a suit from a tailor. Despite, all the crap he went through, he always gave back to Black people. He was named honorary mayor of Harlem, when Jesse Owens couldn't get work, Bojangles got him work and was given one of Jesse's gold medals as a thank you. With no Bill Robinson, there is no Sammy Davis Jr, with no Sammy Davis Jr. There is no Harlem shake. Bill might not have been politically correct, but he paved the way and was well aware of how people viewed him.

For me, Chocolove is Bill Robinson. Yeah, his character design is pretty racist. Chocolove lost both his parents, was left alone and joined a gang. Usually, the story ends right there. But, Chocolove found a way out, and became a hero. He was a key to the endgame, not just some scrub. He's a main character, speaking or fighting in nearly every chapter or episode after he debuted. 

Chocolove was one of the first REAL Black characters in anime, and we weren't guessing or just claiming. Jet and Edward from Cowboy Beebop might be Black but, how we would know, it's the future? Brock from Pokemon, pretty sure he's South East Asian. Chocolove, out there with the fro and the kente cloth, undoubtedly Black. Without Chocolove there's no Michiko, Darui, Kilik, Canary or any of the other Black characters we've had the ability to fall in love with over the last decade. He's not some random throwaway character to just be there. We can agree that the design needs an update, and there are plenty of fan designs to go on. What we aren't going to do, is cancel Chocolove. Iv'e still got love for Chocolove, and I'm pretty sure others do too.

You can check out some of my fiction at 12 AM Fiction or follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast.

I Still Love Chocolove I Still Love Chocolove Reviewed by Darrell S. on Monday, September 21, 2020 Rating: 5

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