Pakistan's Burka Avenger

Here at Saturday AM, we pride ourselves on diversity; we have creators and content representing facets from around the world. Burka Avenger is a new Pakistani anime to showcase diversity on a global scale. I first heard about Burka Avenger a month or so ago from a must watch list online. Only the first episode has been released so far, unfortunately, with English subtitles (out of 13 episodes). The show premiered about a year ago and is the first ever animated superhero series made in Pakistan. The series was created by Aaron Haroon Rashid, a Pakistani rock star and activist. Burka Avenger is a powerful show yet also full of music and colorful animation. 

This show reminded me of Captain Planet, a childhood fav of mine. Besides Captain Planet being awesome, it was about self-power, community, and environmentalism (maybe people should’ve paid more attention). Burka Avenger is all about female empowerment. Jiya is the superheroine that was taught “Takht Kabadi” by her adoptive father. By day, Jiya acts as a teacher at the town’s all girls’ school, but she is loved by all the local children. Baba Bandook is the show’s villain, who looks like Aladdin’s Jafar, tries to shut down the girls’ school. At the end of the episode, Jiya takes a moment to talk to the audience about the importance of education and how no one can stop you from learning and succeeding. I am so on board!

Burka Avenger has some fun animation, full of colors, to create some great and unique looking characters. The animation isn’t superior or flawless, but the story is really the star. But….the animation helps service the message by allowing the audience to focus on the action and dialogue. Another fun element in Burka Avenger is the music: both soundtrack and within the story. Don’t worry it’s not a musical cartoon or anything. The theme song perfectly sums up the series and is quite a catchy rap; it incorporates the perfect tagline for the show—“Don’t mess with the lady in black.” The colors are beautiful and I’m sure are to lure in the kiddies, but Burka Avenger is fun and provocative for all ages.

I wish there were more episodes with subtitles (hopefully coming soon) to see where it goes. I admire the creators for making a show that is both entertaining and influential. Also, it is shocking to think there has not been a superhero animated series ever in Pakistan, but Burka Avenger is a great debut that could spawn a flourish in comics and anime for the country. Burka Avenger has even won the Peabody Award so it is on the verge of global explosion into pop culture. Of course, controversy has surrounded the series, especially the connotation surrounding Jiya’s burka. Haroon has tried to negate any controversy and stress that Burka Avenger is entertainment with a message. The Peabody Awards described their decision to recognize Burka Avenger: "In the Pakistani children’s series Burka Avenger, a symbol of women’s subjugation becomes a super-heroine’s mask. At the center of the action is a teacher, Jiya, who dons a magical cape at night to right the wrongs around her, from the ban on girls going to school, to child labor abuses, to environmental degradation." I’m not saying all entertainment needs to speak to some social issue but it takes on another level and expands the fictional world beyond the screen/pages.

For a new, cool anime full of diversity, check out Burka Avenger:

By Kasey Michael--a lover of all things entertainment. Born and bred in North Carolina, she has a degree in Film Studies and can usually be found in front of a screen.