Japanese culture and streetwear culture go hand in hand and what more screams Japan like Anime? Over the years, Anime-inspired sneakers have been extremely limited but somewhat overlooked by non-Tokyo dwellers. Asics and Naruto seek to try and reignite the interest this year by kicking off with a new Gel NYC Collab.
Touching down at the ASICS online store for its debut on January 11, the Naruto GEL-NYC was poised to hit the market in more abundant quantities, ensuring a plentiful supply of ASICS x Naruto brilliance for fans of both the silhouette and the Anime. These sneakers boast a primarily black hue, elevated by accents in Naruto's distinctive orange and fuchsia shades. Additionally, the collaborative touch extends to the tongue and dubrae, while toggle-fastened laces add a unique touch elsewhere on the shoe.
With Asics kicking off 2024 with a great Anime linked release, let’s take a look back at some of the best Anime x Sneaker releases from the past
Slam Dunk x Air Jordan 6
Slam Dunk stands out as an absolute classic, captivating old-gen anime fans with its exhilarating storyline and memorable characters. However, for the newer generation of anime enthusiasts, the spotlight often falls on "Kuroko's Basketball." Bridging the gap between these eras is Takehiko Inoue, a celebrated Japanese manga artist known for his iconic Slam Dunk basketball franchise. In a weird confluence, Inoue's admiration for basketball legend Michael Jordan comes to the forefront in Slam Dunk. The anime's fictional character, Hanamichi Sakuragi, and his teammates were frequently depicted showcasing their skills in various Js, establishing a unique connection between the world of anime and the basketball icon. This connection was made even more obvious with the real-world introduction of the Air Jordan 6 "Slam Dunk." The Air Jordan 6 "Slam Dunk" pays homage to both basketball and anime in a visually striking manner. The sneaker boasts a vibrant red colourway that immediately catches the eye, serving as a canvas for a plethora of reflective 3M illustrations extracted directly from the Slam Dunk anime. Each intricate detail on the shoe tells a story, bringing to life the energetic spirit of Japanese animation.
 Nike Air Max 98 "Gundam"
Nike revived the iconic Nike Air Max 98 "Gundam" in 2018, originally released in 1998. For those unfamiliar with the term "Gundam," it refers to a renowned anime and manga series introduced by Yoshiyuki Tomino in 1979, characterized by its colossal robots known as "Gundam." Despite the fascinating confluence of worlds, it's disheartening to note that the Nike Air Max 98 variant inspired by Gundam wasn't an official collaboration. Instead, it resonated with the aesthetics of the ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam robot, featuring bold and striking red, blue, yellow, and black tones. While not an official partnership, the sneaker pays homage to the captivating realm of Gundam, blending anime-inspired style with the iconic design of Nike's Air Max 98.
Dragon Ball Z x adidas
In 2018, the Three Stripes paid homage to the beloved Toei Animation franchise with the release of the Dragon Ball Z x Adidas collaboration, featuring seven distinct Adidas models inspired by fan-favourite DBZ characters. The collection showcased iconic colourways representing characters such as Vegeta, Majin Buu, Cell, Son Gohan, Shenron, Frieza, and the legendary Saiyan, Goku, embodied in the Adidas ZX 500 RM. Each pair was presented in a uniquely themed shoe box, struck with graphics that formed an illustrative homage to the manga. Acquiring all seven pairs became a quest reminiscent of "The Seven Dragon Balls," and devoted Dragon Ball enthusiasts went to great lengths to complete their collection, understanding the profound significance embedded in the collaboration. For those initiated into the lore, it was more than just sneakers; it was a fusion of sportswear and the legendary Dragon Ball narrative. Anime fans get very hectic when it comes to lore, so this one was HYPE!
Nike Air Trainer III ‘Optimus Prime’
In 2007, when Michael Bay brought the iconic Transformers series to life in a blockbuster film, Nike responded with a special theme collab, showcasing the remarkable 'Optimus Prime Air Trainer III. This initial collaboration mirrored the strength and allure of the Transformers franchise itself. Subsequent Transformers x Nike releases may not have matched the impact of the inaugural instalment, but that hasn't deterred other brands from exploring their interpretations. The 'More Than Meets the Eye' ethos is palpable in this particular colourway, featuring an unmistakable scheme and Autobots branding. Adding a touch of late-night allure, the sneaker incorporates reflective 3M details, ensuring it shines bright in the dark, capturing the essence of the iconic Transformers universe.


Adam Jordan Moosa