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How Arabs, Islam are represented in Japanese anime

In the Arab world, many people grew up watching dubbed Japanese anime. (Screengrab)
In the Arab world, many people grew up watching dubbed Japanese anime. (Screengrab)
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16 Mar 2024 01:03:32 GMT9
16 Mar 2024 01:03:32 GMT9

Arab News Japan

DUBAI: Since the 1970s, Arab cultures have influenced many aspects of Japanese anime, as many shows included Arab characters, elements, or a representation of Islamic cultures. 

In the Arab world, many people grew up watching dubbed Japanese anime, which became an essential part of their childhood. Some titles include “Adnan wa Lina,” “Captain Majed,” and “Pokemon.”

However, many people overlook the influence Arab cultures have had on anime throughout the decades. With the growing Muslim community in Japan, the Arab influence is expected to stay relevant. 

These are some shows with Arab and Islamic elements in Japanese anime that viewers can enjoy during the holy month of Ramadan. 

Arabian Nights: Sinbad’s Adventures

This beloved anime, which became extremely popular among Middle Eastern children in the 1980s, was directed by Fumio Kurokawa and produced by Nippon Animation in 1975. 

The 52-episode anime follows Sinbad, a young merchant from Baghdad, who goes on adventures in different destinations across the Middle East with a bird named Shera. 

The anime loosely reenacts stories from “One Thousand and One Nights,” a Middle Eastern folktale collection. Sinbad often meets multiple characters from the folktale collection, like Aladdin and Ali Baba.

The show teaches kids multiple core values about Islam as it shows scenes of secondary characters in mosques performing prayer.  

The first season with Arabic dubbing can be found on the streaming platform Shahid.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” is a fantasy anime based on a manga with the same name. Similar to “Sinbad’s Adventures,” this anime also interprets elements, characters, and stories from “One Thousand and One Nights.”

It follows the main character, Aladdin, as he encounters a merchant named Ali Baba. They go on adventures together in various Middle Eastern countries as they obtain valuable items and create friendships along the way. The two characters encounter Sinbad multiple times throughout the two seasons. 

This show is suitable for those who are looking for a familiar yet exciting story filled with intense action scenes. Those who are interested in reading the manga can also read its spin-off series, “Magi: Adventure of Sinbad.” 

Yugo The Negotiator


Based on the manga series, the first volume of this anime takes place in Pakistan, where the protagonist wants to negotiate a hostage exchange carried out by the antagonist, Yusuf Ali Messa. 

Throughout the show, Yugo, the main character, explores the Islamic culture through his friends’ knowledge. During the show, he visits a mosque to see his friends pray. Additionally, one of his main allies is Haji Rahmani, dacoit-turned-imam, who tries to restore his dishonor by helping Yugo. 

Altair: A Record of Battles


Based on a manga written by Kotono Kato, the story takes place in a fictional city in Turkiye that is inspired by the Ottomans. The show follows the main character, Tuğril Mahmut, as he protects his country from being invaded by the neighboring empire. 

The show features a scene of Mahmut performing Sujud, the act of bowing down to God facing Qiblah, after winning a battle. Although not mentioned explicitly, many characters have Islamic names, such as Ahmed and Mahumd. 

The Journey

Produced by Manga Productions, a subsidiary of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK foundation, “The Journey” is the first Japanese-Saudi animated movie. It follows Aus, the main character, as he joins a group of soldiers to defend the holy city of Mecca from being destroyed. It is based on the pre-historic Islamic era.

The Japanese version of the movie features famous voice actors, with Tōru Furuya, from the Gundam series, voicing the main character. 

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