Women are tackling several roles, in the anime industry. Though not in high numbers, black women are getting more involved with anime. I’ve met incredible black women, from social media alone, who have the passion for anime like so many of us do. I was thrilled to come across Siobhan Sullivan, the global social media strategist for Crunchyroll. Aside from running her own fashion blog, @remotelyfashion you can find Siobhan in front of the camera in some of Crunchyroll’s skit videos.
DS: How did you get into anime?
SS: I got enraptured by the anime art style when my parents bought me VHS cassettes of Hans Christen Andersen’s Little Mermaid (by Toei Animation — not Disney) and The Magical World of Gigi (Princess Minky Momo) at Walmart when I was about six years old. I didn’t really understand where it came from or why it looked so unique compared to other cartoons I was exposed too, but it left a huge impression on me. I was avid drawer and I kept on trying to find more of what I saw with those two videos — then, Sailor Moon came along when I was about 10 years old and it completely gripped my childhood and preteen years. I finally realized what I was watching was from Japan and behold the internet dropped in my household (1999) which made it a lot easier to find new anime to discover! From there, I was watching everything the Sci-Fi channel had to offer (watched Akira and Lily C.A.T. way too young) and attending conventions and cosplaying characters from Escaflowne, Fushigi Yugi and Ranma ½ with my friends.
DS: What made you decide to work in the industry? What’s the best part of your job?
SS: I would say I didn’t ‘decide’ but the anime industry ‘found’ me. I have a degree in Japanese language/literature and Psychology and lived in Japan for several years, but after I left, I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to use this knowledge for my career even though I wanted to. What ended up happening was that my other passions (marketing, fashion) guided me towards extremely helpful experiences which led me to Crunchyroll. I built up experience with social media and marketing through career fashion blogging in London and then paid digital marketing for high tech companies in San Francisco. One fine day, (while Crunchyroll was playing in the background), I saw a job alert for Crunchyroll and I immediately applied. It felt like the stars had aligned!
The best part of job is seeing how happy anime and Crunchyroll makes users all over the world! While I always have to apply an analytical lens to the results and performance of social media, I sometimes find myself in awe of a singular comment about how much anime has impacted their lives for the better. I really love seeing fans being open and true to their love of anime, since when I was younger I often had to hide my love of the genre because my peers thought it was ‘weird.’
DS: What do you foresee in the future with anime and black community? For example the fandom, storylines, animators, working in the industry etc.
SS: Right now, I’m observing that the makers of all forms of media (TV, film, etc.) are finally realizing that depicting the black experience is energizing an entirely unique ovation of excitement from fans — black and non-black alike. It only makes sense that in 2017, Neo Yokio was one of the most discussed anime series of the year. I hope this fosters more black creators using the anime medium to tell their stories, since now, many of them have grown up watching the medium and appreciate its truly unique qualities.
As for working in the industry in the West, I foresee a greater need for PoC individuals. Their experiences are needed to develop the truest tapestry of anime fans and it is extremely valuable to companies who are trying to serve every type of anime fan there is.
DS: What anime are you currently watching this season
SS: I’m watching Junji Ito Collection, citrus, Pop Team Epic and Laid Back Camp religiously this season. Also, Devilman Crybaby and Kakegurui were extremely fun to binge watch when they were released this winter. I just watched Mazinger Z in theatres, and now all I need this year is Cutey Honey Universe to round out my deep love for Go Nagai.