Vincentian Tolga Akcayli delivers trailer for J’can anime
Starts GoFundMe to finance magna, production of animation
During the pandemic, the endless stream of lockdowns had most people flocking to online forms of entertainment, like popular social media site TikTok. One of the many enthralled in this trance was St Vincent film-maker Tolga Akcayli. On what seemed like a normal day on the app, Akcayli joked about what a Jamaican Samurai would sound like. Soon, Akcayli’s followers got invested in the idea, hounding him to bring the concept to life.
“I saw the comment section and every single video, not just the Jamaican anime video, they were all saying ‘Yow Tolga, where is the Jamaican anime that you promised us?’. And I thought ‘Excuse me’.”
Though outwardly unfazed by the mob-like requests of the Jamaican weeb population, Akcayli quietly began the process of research to see if he could in fact bring an anime based in Jamaican culture to the masses.
“In November 2021, which is about six months after I made that joke, I decided let me do some research. I had been studying Caribbean folklore for about four years prior, and then I said ‘let me explore Jamaican culture’ and started to research it for the next two years.”
Now, two years later, after feeling like he found a story worth telling, Akcayli is ready to share Jamaica No Duppy: Rise of The Conqueror.
The story follows a Jamaican boy, Kaito, voiced by Jamaican social media influencer, Ethan ‘Yaadman Etan’ Campbell-Reid, who is the grandson of a Samurai trapped in Jamaica. Now training to take up the mantle of Jamaica’s protector, Kaito and his grandfather must work together with local billionaire Malakai Kingston to defeat British coloniser Lord Colonoth.
“All my life, the music, the dancing, the culture; we were very heavily influenced by Jamaica,” Akcayli explained. “Since I was 12 years old, I used to visit Jamaica once every year to record my swim times. Along with that, in my two years of research I screened where children go to, the realities of Kingston, the realities of countryside tourism versus real Jamaican living. I did a lot of research. It wasn’t just google five top destinations and then colour-book it. Even the Scotch bonnet that you saw in the oxtail stew, the green pepper, it had to be exactly Jamaican.”
Though Akcayli has a lot of respect for Jamaican culture and is a huge fan of anime, he says, during the creation process, he felt some impostor syndrome in tapping into this culture and art form that is not native to him.
“I feel like I have a little bit of an impostor syndrome, because I’m not Jamaican and, although the comments section is 98 per cent positive, those two or three comments per video really strike into my heart, because there is nothing I can do about my skin colour and there is nothing I can do about not being Jamaican. So I really didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. I made sure that the Scotch bonnet was orange. I made sure that every Jamaican that spoke was 100 per cent Jamaican, not like Sebastian the crab. Authentic.”
Explaining the plot’s motivation, Akcayli continued, “It is the reality of the Caribbean and I didn’t want to create any kind of villain that wasn’t the truest villain to the Caribbean. And I think the truest villain is colonialist Europe, whether it is Britain, France, Spain [or] Portugal.”
With the official trailer released, Akcayli started a GoFundMe to raise money to fully produce the project.
“Once we’ve reached the necessary funds, I’ll be able to finance the manga [and] produce the high-quality pilot episode. With that pilot episode, I will then be able to take it to high existing streaming platforms or production studios or upcoming production studios to take on the project and produce it into a series or a feature film.”
While the GoFundMe currently has over US$4,000 raised of a US$60,000 goal, Akcayli says he would need up to US$120,000 to fully finance the project.
The link to the GoFundMe is gofundme.com/f/jamaicananime.