It’s no secret that Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, is something of a cinephile. Last year, he made his acting debut — as himself, no less — in the Adam Sandler-led film Uncut Gems. And his Warren Fu-directed video for “I Feel It Coming” featured atmospheric shots pulled from Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterwork 2001: A Space Odyssey. But he is also, apparently, an anime fan.
While the “I Feel It Coming” video co-starred the Japanese actress Kiko Mizuhara, well-known for her work on the wildly popular anime Attack on Titan, his latest video goes full-on Ghost in the Shell. The visuals for “Snowchild,” which dropped on Wednesday (July 22), filter The Weeknd’s career through the lens of fantasy. He wrestles with cyborgs with purple bob-cuts, battles headless suit-wearing monsters led by a nose-ringed boss before the Los Angeles Hollywood sign, and slays a horde of literal cougars with a cross-shaped lightsaber.
This isn’t the first time The Weeknd has become a cartoon, and it won’t be the last. In May, he appeared as himself, again, in Fox’s animated series American Dad. And on Sunday (July 26), the singer’s voice will join the cast of Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken for its 200th episode.
To achieve the visuals for “Snowchild,” Tesfaye teamed up with the first Black-owned animation studio in Japan, D’ART Shtajio. The clip is packed with hidden surprises for fans, reflecting on the phases of his life. A scene depicting The Weeknd walking the snowy alleys of his hometown of Toronto, for example, is soundtracked by lyrics, delivered in his signature silken rendering, about hustling in the “dead streets.” Check it out, below.