We know by now that Michael B. Jordan, who plays Erik Killmonger in the Black Panther film, is a bonafied anime stan. But what if Killmonger was, too?
That’s the premise of what has become, over the course of the past week or so, the best meme to ever emerge from a Marvel film (in my humble opinion). The meme seems to have two flashpoints: first, the aforementioned fact about Michael B. Jordan, and the observation that Killmonger’s outfit in Black Panther bears at least a passing resemblance, though perhaps an unintentional one, to Vegeta’s armor in Dragon Ball.
It fits, on more than just a visual level: a philosophically divergent rival, raised in the United States at the pinnacle of anime’s import into the west, whose conflict with his cousin more than passingly resembles the righteous fury of some of anime’s most memorable villains. Why wouldn’t Killmonger like anime? He’s practically a shonen (anime and manga aimed at teen boys, think Naruto or Bleach) character already.
The confluence of anime fans and Black Panther fans has made this an exceptionally fun idea to play around with, particularly when you factor in T’Challa’s almost-certain ignorance of all things otaku.
Others have decided that other members of the Wakandan ruling class, like Shuri, would absolutely share in Killmonger’s love, in an alternate universe where, y’know, they chatted instead of trying to kill each other.
Even the fan artists have gotten a hold of it, producing work like this gem, via storyboard artist Steve Yurko (shared with permission, thanks, Steve!):
It’s confirmed. Killmonger loves anime, and he is anime. One of Marvel’s best villains is now, so far as the internet is concerned, also its best otaku.