D’Art Shtajio: Japan’s First Black-Owned Anime Studio. Although they’re foreign to Japan, these three men have worked on big titles like One Piece and Naruto.
After reading and watching and listening, you may be wondering how you can show more of your support for black lives, especially black creators. Look no further than D’art Shtajio, Japan’s first black-owned anime studio based in Tokyo founded by animator Henry Thurlow and background artists Arthell and Darnell Isom. The three men created an anime studio that combined “American sensibilities” with Japanese anime, diversifying the industry to pave way for more opportunities for more animators to contribute to the anime world. With the Isom brothers being black and co-founders of the studio, D’art Shtajio is one of the first major anime studios founded by black men.
The three founders were doing other jobs prior to the creation of the anime studio in 2016. Arthell Isom was working with animation studio Ogura Kobo as a background animator on some big-name shows like Bleach, Naruto, and Black Butler. Henry Thurlow was working with Nakamura Production as In-Between Animator on Pokemon Origins and Gundam Build Fighters, and with Pierrot Animation Room for Tokyo Ghoul.The two men collaborated as a team, hiring other foreign animators to work on major productions. According to industry insiders, about five present of anime animators are foreign to Japan.
In an interview with SyFy Wire, Arthell Isom said: “The great thing is with us being here, Black creators seek us out. It’s a great opportunity to work with them. We’ve worked with quite a few like independent manga creators with projects like Tephlon FunkandXOGENASYS; we get the opportunity to then tell more Black stories. These are storytellers who want to see their story adapted to anime form.”
Anime isn’t the only form of animation D’art Shtajio has worked on. They’ve done work for other Western projects like Castlevania season 3, but it’s the studio’s admirable work ethic and high-quality products that have landed them their portfolio of huge anime titles. Among them are Gintama, One Piece, Tokyo Ghoul, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind,and directing roles for multiple episodes of Merc Storia: The Apathetic Boy and the Girl in a Bottle.
The studio has also released some in-house productions that showcase their fusion of Western meets Eastern talents and aspects. This includes a Netflix original anime anthology titled Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound and Fury, anime shorts like Indigo
Ignited, and a pilot written by Arthell for a potential anime, Xogenasys based on the manga written by NBA star Johnny O’Bryant and drawn by Nikolas A. Draper-Ivey. (Text Jordinna Joaquin)