Inside The First Ever Black-Owned Anime Studio


The world’s at a cusp. Of changes. Re-orientations. Re-defining what we’ve known for ages. And restructuring what we’ve not been okay with, for even longer. Amongst such tectonic changes, news of Japan getting its first ever Balck-owned anime news, is more than welcome.

Why not, I’d ask.

‘Artist at heart’


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Arthell Isom, CEO & Art Director — Meet the Shtajio

In an online interview, linked below, animator and artist Arthell Isom talks about being an artist at art. And that being a good enough reason to boost his interest in anime. And why not? Japanese animation has successfully caught the imagination of enthusiasts the world over. Right from the (erstwhile?) hub of popular culture the United States of America, to India to Japan itself of course. As for Isom, and his twin brother Darnell Isom, the anime wave eventually led them to start D’ART Shtajio. The Tokyo-based 2-D animation studio attempts to produce anime content and anime art, with a keen influence from American culture. 

Been around

Arthell’s been in the business for a while. What with his stints with animation studios like Ogura Kobo, working on shows like Bleach, Black Butler and Naruto. The animator has also studied art in Italy, along with similar stints at art schools in San Francisco and Osaka. 

Reportedly, around 5 percent of the animators working in anime are not natives of Japan. This number is set to change with an increased number of non-natives working, not only in anime production, but also anime planning, management as producers to public relations. 

Body of work so far

After being launched in 2016, the studio run by the Isom brothers has already dabbled with some commendable projects. These include ones like Attack on Titan, the fourth season of Gintama, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, and One Piece. Similarly, a few original pieces of work have also found their way out of D’ART Shtajio. 

Inside The First Ever Black-Owned Anime Studio

The official website of the studio further elaborates their commitment to art, inclusion and fostering a new generation of responsible artists :

“To inspire the creative collective requires patience, artistic accountability and a greater sense of responsibility as an animation studio, to nurture and develop each artist in their individualized talent field. This is the shared belief that defines our company culture: invest in the foundation and grow the artist from the ground up.”

The second part of their name itself is indicative. 

‘Shtaji’ comes from coining two words from Japanese text. While ‘Sutajio’ is Japanese for studio, Shtaji is a word used by background artists in Japan to mean the underpainting. Or the foundation of art. 

Change comes around, doesn’t it?


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