Anime, like streetwear, is a culture unto itself. And in the past few years, it’s exploded from niche community into a global phenomenon. The Japanese art style is one of the country’s most influential exports, with a hard-hitting, easily recognizable aesthetic that has touched everything from fashion, music, sneakers, and fine art. Since 1968, Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump has introduced the world to a variety of serial mangas that go onto become adapted into some of the most-remembered anime series of all time.
Titles like Uresei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, Hunter x Hunter, and Yu Yu Hakusho were some of the earliest animes to cross over, forming the foundation of America’s anime subculture—starting out with bootleg “fansubs” done by passionate otaku who wanted to share their love of the series stateside. In many ways, these series were a gateway for ‘90s fans to embrace the medium’s penchant for fast-paced animation, extremely exaggerated action sequences, memorable characters, and addictive story arcs.
Through Viz Media, anime’s presence in the Americas became even more mainstream, as series like Naruto, Prince of Tennis, BLEACH, and One Piece—which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year—got even more exposure and airtime on television screens. Some of these series have become so well-loved that they’ve evolved into brand new iterations, building on the stories of previous generations. Naruto: Shippuden and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations carry on the legacy of the original series, as does The New Prince of Tennis. In essence, it bridges the gap between those who grew up with anime and a whole new crop of fans who are just getting into it.
That makes Uniqlo the perfect platform for old-school and new-school fans to wear their world. Uniqlo has been going down the nostalgic rabbit hole with its UT T-Shirt program, having just dropped Capcom and Nintendo-themed collaborations last month to the joy of gamers around the world. Now, the lifewear brand is diving deeper into its cultural roots with the launch of their Manga and One Piece UT collection featuring graphics and themes from some of the most celebrated manga and anime titles of all time.
The Manga collection spans a staggering 14 titles spanning the width and breadth of Shonen Jump’s most-loved stories. Mystery fans will surely remember the miniaturized spectacled sleuth from Detective Conan (called Case Closed when it came to the states), while sports fans see basketball and volleyball in a whole new light in Kuroko No Basket and Haikyu!! For the vintage-minded heads, the Ranma 1/2 and Uresei Yatsura graphics channel anime subculture’s early days and also the references of some ’90s streetwear labels.
While the One Piece capsule is already available in Japan and drops globally at the end of June, the Manga collection releases globally on May 24 and will be available in Japan on May 27. To bring the Manga and One Piece UT collection to life, we enlisted the help of local Japanese youth and took our favorite styles to Tokyo, shot on location in the suburbs near Koiwa Station, putting a modern spin on UT’s expansive offering.