BNP: Please tell us a little about yourself.
I go by Dasiim Ali but CommanderMango works too, I’m from the middle of this western mass of rock, and I left that corn behind in aspirations of learning about myself for the sake of Art. I foolishly enrolled in Art school, suffered the consequences and gained peace in doing so. I’ve been doing computer based art for half a decade; currently I’m in a hate-like relationship with programming and video editing (it’s smooth when I pay attention).
BNP: This is your first entry into the cosplay world — what initially drew you in, and why? Also, why Afro?
Aw shucks, thank you… I promised my friend awhile back we’d be Samurai together (Mugen in the photos) plus the rest of my group was adamant that I go as Afro (who else could I have been? …Tousen from Bleach?). I actually held it off for years out of fear and discomfort of the character at the time. The movies that I’ve watched of Afro Samurai reveal that he’s constantly under attack by the world around him because of the title that his family head represents, originating from Justice killing his father and taking their home. Everything that this boy identified with is taken away from him with only his memories and his fathers severed head… and it only gets worse!
His new friends can’t even understand nor relate to his past so he never speaks of it and once he takes the path to retrieving the Number 1 headband he helps destroy his family like relationship and drives Jino to seek revenge against him like his desire for “Justice…” He copes with it by creating Ninja Ninja but… well the story is Poetic irony, to say the least. Now Afro’s solution is clear as day to see… but I feared how much I could relate to this in a certain sense… I never wanted the world to know just how angry I was, I couldn’t… it terrified me. If I wore that headband it would break the illusion I so desperately wanted to believe… That I was just like everyone else.
BNP: How do you view the cosplay community as a whole? Before cosplaying did you see and/or read about more good or bad experiences by people of color, for Black people?
You ever see those style magazines in the grocery store check out aisles? I find it amazing how influential fashion is on societal perspectives including the cosplay community. People will hate, love, cry, eat, screw, and obsess over you because of the pants you’re wearing. Under the facade of the superficial, no one’s free. The thing I hear and have also noticed is how much anime culture is frowned upon. You’d think that a bunch of people who dress up like cartoon characters in a convention center would be more understanding of each other but that’s not always the case. These kids make outfits out of chump change — dope ones at that! But you’ll hear some asshole obnoxious remarks from kids who I KNOW are the outcasts in their day-to-day lives. The irony! I’m not following the cosplay world that much BUT I have seen images of this Black guy who cosplays as Tidus (FFX) and Kamina (Gurren Lagann) and I loved it; I hear good things in regards to them and of course there’s garbage trolling too, but if Black people were only the Black characters in geek fiction we’d have a small palette to work with.
BNP: Top five favorite sword-carrying characters from anime and manga for your dream squad, and why.
Gatts The Blackswordsman (Berserk),
Kamina (Gurren Lagann),
Saya (Blood the Last Vampire version),
Strider Hiryu (Strider Hiryu Manga),
and of course Afro Samurai.
They all have one thing in common: they’ve made peace with their suffering and are stronger because of it. A lot of anime I find very delusional which I believe is the intention but I find escapist very self centered and idealistic. These protagonist accept the nature of the beast and adapt like water, if Bruce Lee carried a sword I would’ve picked him!
I’ve put some thought into maybe trying Static Shock, Spider-Man, or Black Panther. I like masks a lot too though… really into the Legend of Korra’s henchmen designs and also Mass Effect’s N7 soldier armor set. Only time will tell!
I didn’t think that my cosplay would be such a hit via Tumblr but because of all the attention it brought I’m now doing a photoshoot with a Katana Company called The Swords of Norshire they’re also Cosplay Gamers on Tumblr. I’m very excited to be apart of it and I’m doing some upgrades to the Afro Outfit for the shoot; if you guys liked what you saw before, stay tuned! And much love to all the fans! I have some other things that I’m focusing on, art and video game-wise, but all under alias. The plan is to make the truth addictive… to help reveal to the sons and daughters of Israel that our time is here and now. Thank you so much for this opportunity!