Black Anya, Yor, Loid Forger fan art ignites a racist Spy x Family controversy on Twitter

Artist drawing of Anya from Spy x Family as black
Spy x Family character Anya Forger reimagined as African American by Twitter artist SoulKingLives. Pic credit: @SoulKingLives/Twitter

As one of the most anticipated anime of 2022, Spy x Family has been drawing in numerous fans since its debut on Crunchyroll.

Although it has received plenty of praise, and even made the Top 10 anime of all time, the series has already been caught up in its fair share of controversy. Some have even gone so far as to claim the anime production committee should have Spy x Family “cancelled” over the anime’s depiction of Anya Forger. (See the Anime Geek stories in the links for more details.) 

The latest of these controversies came when popular Twitter artist, @SoulKingLives, shared a piece reimagining Anya as a young black girl. His depiction shows Anya from Spy x Family with a darker skin tone with accessories commonly found in traditional black hairstyles. 

Traditionally, Anya is a young female with pale skin, green eyes, and bright pink hair. Pic credit: Crunchyroll

Making Loid Forger Black was the next in the series that reimagined the three main Spy x Family characters as African American.

Artist drawing of Loid Forger from Spy x Family as black
What do you think about this Black Twilight? Looks like he’s being depicted as a Black Lives Matter supporter based on the lapel pin on his jacket. Pic credit: @SoulKingLives/Twitter

On April 20, 2022, a Black Yor Forger completed the family. The team is now complete now that Mama and Papa Forger are on the scene!

Artist drawing of Yor Forger from Spy x Family as black
Finally, we have Yor Briara aka Thorn Princess reimagined as a Black anime character. Pic credit: @SoulKingLives/Twitter

At the time of this article’s publishing, the original post about the Black Anya Forger has gone viral with over 20,000 likes. However, the comments underneath paint a different picture. Fans are calling @SoulKingLives racist, claiming a double standard against artists who choose to racebend anime characters when illustrating them. 

How have fans responded to the black Spy x Family art?

Reviews for the piece are mixed. While the piece has gone viral, there are numerous quotes underneath the post both praising and condemning @SoulKingLives. Many are also questioning the practice of racebending in general. 

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Some popular responses include this tweet from @DeaunteOnterio questioning the receptiveness of the anime community as a whole. 

However, other responses took the opportunity to make derogatory comments toward black artists.

Overall, while many responses were positive, there were still many negative reactions as well. 

What is anime racebending? 

To fully understand the controversy, one must understand the terms being thrown around on Twitter. 

First coined in response to the live-action casting of the series Avatar: The Last Airbender, the term refers to when white actors were cast as characters believed to be of ambiguous Asain decent.

It was first a term to describe when traditionally ethnic characters were recast as white. The word has now become a slang term to describe “fan casting characters of color into traditionally white franchises.” 

This practice is not to be confused with the term “whitewashing”, which is referred to as the practice of casting white actors in non-white roles. While both terms are similar in nature, one often refers to the practice of fans casually reimagining their favorite characters as other ethnicities, while the other seeks to point out the deliberate racism of marginalizing people and characters of color in the entertainment industry.

Is drawing Anya Forger art from Spy x Family as Black racist?

Some have claimed that depicting Anya Forger as black is inherently “racist”, but is it really? In short, no. 

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This controversy stems from the idea that if characters of non-white origin should not be recast as white, how is it fair to reimagine traditionally white characters as any other race? 

The disconnect comes from the fact that these two practices are often confused for one another. 

Artists reimagining character’s as another race does not intentionally ruin the potential for a POC actor to portray them. When artists racebend, they are not directly affecting the livelihood of others. They are not infringing upon the rights of others, nor are they supporting a system that does so. 

They are simply creating art, which is often open to interpretation. 

While every fan may not be on the same side of this controversy, one thing is certain, Spy x Family is definitely getting plenty of attention. 

New episodes of Spy x Family premiere every Saturday on Crunchyroll.

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Chase Dempsey
Chase Dempsey
26 days ago

Great read! Learned about racebending as well!

Damian
Damian
26 days ago

Ok, so does that mean it’s fine for black characters to be drawn as white? Not recast, just redrawn, it’s “simply creating art” no?

Gurren PPako
Gurren PPako
25 days ago
Reply to  Damian

Yeah lol if they were black characters redrawn as white everyone would lose their heads and call it racism and cancel it. Racism everywhere yay

Moebius
Moebius
3 days ago
Reply to  Gurren PPako

Remember when Steven Universe fans bullied someone until they almost committed suicide and then celebrated their actions? I do, and I remember it was because they drew a chubby character “too skinnny”. They’ve tried the same thing with perceived black characters being drawn “too white”.

So yeah, they’d lose their fucking minds.

Patrick Frye
Editor
25 days ago
Reply to  Damian

Sure, why not? People will cosplay as their favorite characters regardless of melanin. Similarly, artists will reimagine the characters.

Static Shock White Cosplay.jpg
Anon
Anon
25 days ago

Why do they always steal from other races?

Platy
Platy
23 days ago

“Artists reimagining character’s as another race does not intentionally ruin the potential for a POC actor to portray them. When artists racebend, they are not directly affecting the livelihood of others. They are not infringing upon the rights of others, nor are they supporting a system that does so.“

Okay, so by that logic, reimagining characters of other races as WHITE isn’t directly affecting the livelihood of others. It’s just art, after all. How does a drawing “infringe upon the rights of others” in the first place? I don’t support whitewashing, not in a million years, but I also don’t support blackwashing or any other form of changing a character’s canonical race. There’s nothing wrong with black people, but there’s also nothing wrong with white people. Changing a character’s race, regardless of what it originally was and what it’s been changed to, implies the person making this racebend wasn’t satisfied with their original race. Seeing all the “white guilt” going around amongst the woke crowd these days, this ain’t helping anything. What’s wrong with white people? What’s wrong with black people? Nothing. ALL skin colours are valid and beautiful and this artist should have respected Anya’s canonical appearance. I’d say the same thing if Anya had originally been any other race.

Moebius
Moebius
3 days ago
Reply to  Platy

Especially since here, it’s a part of the setting. As I said in a previous comment, SxF is a love letter to cold war spy fiction (with an anime twist, obviously), which was largely set in partitioned Germany. You’ve got organizations like the SSS which are *obviously* the Stasi (the Satsi’s full name even translated to “State Security”), you’ve got organizations like the Unionist Party which is clearly the Communist Unity Party of East Germany… etc etc.

Germany is a VERY white place. It’s part of the setting. This isn’t just some fictional world with no real-world parallel where races are a background detail if even important at all.

L1F3
L1F3
22 days ago

honestly Loid is the only hit on the list the rest are misses tbh

Moebius
Moebius
3 days ago
Reply to  L1F3

I’d say Yor was pretty good. although it’s a bit hard to really judge as she’s mostly in the shadows. Anya is a total miss, though, you’re right. But I also can’t really slam them for that, because that’s just part of art. Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.

More on AnimeGeek for choosing poor examples when I’m sure there were many others.

Someguygay
Someguygay
22 days ago

If you watch or read the story, he talks about a spy needing to “not stand out”… Call me crazy, but it would be very much against that tenant to be black in that very white fictional nation.

wow
wow
4 days ago

The background of this cartoon seems to be based on the Cold War between East and West Germany, does it make sense for a black spy? I don’t know why you’re talking so stupid.

Moebius
Moebius
3 days ago
Reply to  wow

It’s not even “seems”, it very clearly is. the SSS is one word away from the East Germany “Sate Security Agency”, the uniforms are almost identical (not to mention the logo which is half Nazi eagle half Satsi shield), “Ost” is “East” in German… etc etc.

Moebius
Moebius
3 days ago

Not so much about racebending (I believe you’re right – do as you please) but I’m tired of people complaining about the lack of black people in SxF overall. SxF is set in what’s obviously an expy for partitioned Germany? Why? Because the best Cold War spy novels were set in Germany, and this is at least inspired by them, if not something of a love letter.

I don’t know about you guys, but last time I visited Germany it was *very* white.

MrBeast
MrBeast
1 day ago

nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Last edited 1 day ago by MrBeast
JustCurious
JustCurious
6 minutes ago

So black washing is okay but not white washing? Also, are we going to just ignore that he is making money out of another artist’s work?

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