Killer B, ‘Naruto Shippuden’–I am beyond how to deal with this mess

Despite how abrasive I find the racial/ethnic mess of presentation that is the character of Killer B, I managed to catch up with the subbed episodes of Naruto Shippuden.

I just have so many issues with Killer B. He
is
a
total
racist caricature
I can barely stand to listen to him so its hard for me to watch the newer subbed episodes of Naruto Shippuden.

There aren’t many clearly brown people in this series. But you just cannot ignore the racism present in a character like Killer B.

Here’s most of my beef:

  1. Killer B is called ‘Killer’ B and happens to be a big brown dude.
  2. Can we have a brown character that doesn’t have blonde hair?
  3. What’s with the rapping, posing, giving concerts, and doling out dap? That’s what really bugs me about B and what I feel undeniably marks him as a caricature of Black hip-hop culture, which the Japanese and whites are known for making fun of. Eminem was enough.
  4. Standing with the Raikage, bursting through walls, popping with muscles, and acting all aggressive doesn’t help.
  5. He is bestial, unrealistically oblivious, and unrealistically unphased by his situation. Like he’s just stupid instead of wise.
  6. Laconic comic relief (another stereotype)
  7. Yeah, the whole getting along so well with animals and being so “dark-skinned”, masculine and “in touch nature” is yet another stereotype.
  8. His hair is unmistakably fashioned in imitation of corn rolls–’nuff said
  9. When I think about it, I think I actually might have liked Killer B as a character if his crafting had been a little more subtle and careful. But the core of his character relies on too many racist, shorthand stereotypes for me see any depth or originality.

urrgghhhh!!!!

~Tavia

Kunoichi/Female Characters in Kishimoto’s ‘Naruto’

I think one of the biggest issues with Naruto, for me as a female viewer of color, is Kishimoto’s/the animators’ treatment and portrayals of female characters. Even if you were to argue that the target audience is mostly male, this should not excuse or validate sexism and, in some cases, misogyny.

Some of these point may be overlooked but it’s worth saying anyway in terms of how I view the roles and typecasting of female characters/kunoichi in the show.

  1. There is a strict gendered separation of male and female characters that is maintained throughout the series.
  2. Females are members of the team but there’s no way to really say that these male characters are actually friends with them. They are typically either 1) villains, 2) love interests/mothers, 3) team members/colleagues/comrades, or 4) sexual objects. I definitely think Kishimoto and the animators are more interested presenting fraternal relationships.
  3. With the exception of Ten Ten who is rarely seen in the main story arc, many of the primary female characters may be fierce fighters but Kishimoto has firmly seated/stereotyped them as nurturing and motherly with the concept of medical ninjutsu and chakra control. As if females are natural healers and nurturers with natural propensities towards innate chakra control. It’s a useful skill to have but this idea is nonetheless sort of problematic, because it presents female ninjas as natural healers and softens their strength and abilities by placing them in the mold of “the healer type”, as if to cater to a largely male audiences needing motherly figures/nice girls to not feel emasculated. How many male characters do you see presented as healers, with the exception of Kabuto (a villain) and nameless medical nin who appear throughout the series? Because, obviously, guys’ chakra control is too poor so they get all the cool physical/flashy jutsu, yeah. So Kishimoto definitely plays to heteronormative gender roles, albeit in a way that can be overlooked.
  4. The only brown female character so far is presented as a brute (Karui of Kumogakure). Nobody can tell me that two or three or more of the ninjas from the Village Hidden in the Clouds are not racist portrayals, and that includes Killer B.
  5. Ten Ten is the only openly feminist-like character, or at the least the only person inspired by successful, powerful kunoichi (not just their beauty), in the whole series and it seems she gets the least airtime out of the Konoha female shinobi. (And there’s going to be some people who pop up and argue that Sakura’s also an exception but, just to let you know, I’m tired of Sakura, honestly.)
  6. Is there any female ninja whose beauty or big breasts isn’t the focus of what’s great about her?
  7. Many female characters are presented as sacrificial lambs, so to speak. For example: the f*king 5th Hokage, in all her years of combat, training, and experience, never developed a justu that could protect the entire village or kick Pain’s ass (one of Pain’s asses at least). Not that it’s something to be overlooked, but she instead protects the villagers by nearly sacrificing her own life with a passive justu that used her chakra in conjunction with Katsuyu. Annnd then…Naruto swoops in to save the day.
  8. Of course there’s only one female shinobi per team and she will always need a male shinobi to save her at some point.
  9. The younger female characters of the main cast are presented as boy crazy! Ten Ten and Temari, probably less than others but it comes out sometimes.

Additional Relevant Thoughts:

  • Are there no females who have the sharingan?
  • How is it okay for Jiraiya to invade women’s privacy in hot springs and this is largely treated as it is supposed be funny? I like Jariya as character—without the peeping. It’s really starting to bug me. You could have made him an imperfect character without that extent of perversion and sexism/objectification.
  • Is it too much to ask for a cool fat female character who’s not presented as a complete joke?

Naruto’s dad is the 4th Hokage?—kinda of a letdown….

Sorry is this is a spoiler for anybody who didn’t know, but I’m sure most people who have been following the series know this by now… ~MsQ

One of my primary reasons for continuing to watch Naruto once I picked it up years after it came out was the fact that I believed Naruto was a common kid who happened to be an orphan. Come to find out his mother is from some gifted, old-blood type family and his father was the uber-talented, genius Fourth Hokage.

This premise of the show gives into the old orphan fantasy of discovering that their parents were millionaires or superheroes or government spies.

The producers of the anime and the manga artist Masashi Kishimoto spend a lot of time dancing around the fact that Minato is Naruto’s father. They tried their best to draw attention away from the fact, but the resemblance is apparent. I believe that this was to build Naruto’s character apart from his famous deceased parents. However, hardly anyone in anime/manga seems to be from a ordinary working class family. Everybody is from some well-known clan of super-ninjas. With the exception of Rock Lee–we don’t even know who his parents are….

The theme is this: Everybody is [secretly] a princess or prince or related to one from the past or something. Everybody’s from a privileged, wealthy and/or renowned family or something.

Bleach the animation is even trending towards suggesting that viewers feel sympathy towards wealthy/uppercrust characters like Byakuya Kuchiki and Rurichiyo Kasumioji because of their positions in society, their gilded cages. The truth is that I do sympathize…but only to an extent. The people suffering in poverty in the Rukon district (Rukongai) are treated like background noise for much of the show. Though Rukia and Renji are both from the area, they are both either elite Shinigami or adopted into noble families; even Toshiro Histugaya is genius-boy captain.

In the same vein, many of the Naruto movies are all about princesses and other nobility.

As a continuing theme in movies, shows, anime, and manga, the message that this sends to me as a working class member of an oppressed race is disappointing. Furthermore, people with these backgrounds aren’t the only ones who are interesting enough to be main characters. I do not want to pretend to be a princess or fantasize to that extent outside of my class and lived reality all the time.

A real challenge and lovable manga or anime would be one that doesn’t play to the princess/prince theme.

for real,

Ms. Queenly