Created and developed far from Europe and the Americas, and conceived in a country where less than 1% of the populace is Christian, manga could hardly be called out for inaccurately portraying Christianity. It would be silly for calling out mangaka for getting the story of Christ wrong or for presenting the Bible as “just another religion.” Still, manga is full of religious references to God and gods, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality. And that’s the idea behind this new series of posts, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.
Warning: Today’s post contains massive spoilers for the ending of Heaven’s Feel, the third arc of Fate/Stay Night. Also note that this is taken from Fate/Stay Night: Realta Nua, the all ages adaptation of the visual novel Fate/Stay Night.
The following is a conversation between Shirou and Kirei in the final showdown of Heaven’s Feel, English translation courtesy of Beast’s Lair.
Kotomine: “What is good and evil? Are you saying murder is an absolute evil?
…There is no answer from the start. That’s what humans are like. There is no clear answer, and they accept a changing truth. We have no absolute truth from the very beginning.
Humans have both good and evil, and it’s up to you to decide which is which. The start is at zero, and there is no crime in being born. I thought I’d already told you.”
Shirou: “—-Yeah. You said there’s no crime in the baby even if it’s evil.”
Kotomine: “Correct. Humans become good or evil through learning.
A certain scripture mentions that humans are superior beings to angels. Why? Because there are people who know of evil, but do not become evil. It’s different from angels, who only know of good since birth. Humans have evil, but can live as good, so they are superior to angels, who only know of good.
—-And at the same time.
There are rare moments of goodwill shown by evil men. There are bad intentions shown on a whim by saints. The contradiction. The coexistence of good and evil is the Holy Grail that makes people human. Living is a crime by itself, and there are punishments because one is alive. Good exists with life, and evil exists with life.
—-You cannot inquire about the crime of one who has not yet been born.
There is no existence that is born as evil, that is unwanted by everyone.
It has no reason to be punished until it is born.”
Kotomine Kirei’s claim is this: the unborn are innocent of any evil and can only be confirmed of evil after their birth by considering their thoughts and deeds.
For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
– Genesis 3:5
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Prometheus and Fate/Zero (through episode 24)
Even if you’re like me and knew little of the context heading into Fate/Zero, it was portended right from the beginning of the series that the Holy Grail was going to come with strings attached. And what a string it is – Angra Mainyu, the “destructive spirit,” is contained within the grail.
In episode 24, Kiritsugu, coming to understand the rules of the Grail as well as the evil spirit lying within, chooses to reject it. In trying to bring peace to the world, he would instead bring destruction to it.
The analogy between the Grail and another sacred symbol, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, must be made. Eve took of the tree and shared with her husband, the two eating from it to become like gods. Kiritsugu, too, seeks that power – to know the way and create a way to do something godly. Read the rest of this entry
I took last week off for Christmas, which means there is a plethora of links to share on Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere today. I’ll return to the regular Friday schedule starting next Friday.
I was surprised that although this week’s Fate/Zero included a lengthy discussion of God’s sense of justice and His nature, few bloggers discussed the scene. Draggle examines the idea of blasphemy as praise, while Chikorita157 and Hisui, among other bloggers, summarize Caster and Ryuunosuke’s discussion about God.
Another finale that aired this week was for Mawaru Penguindrum. Draggle concludes the show with a thorough analysis of Gnostic elements. Chaostangent discusses certain ideas in the series, particularly the religious element of sin. Nopy demystifies some of the show’s symbolism, which included some religious elements, like the apples.
Zeroe4 provides his otakucized version of I Corinthians 19-23:
To the Otaku, I became as an otaku (even though I serve Christ first) in order to win otaku.
On his other blog, Zeroe4 brings up Genesis when talking Chobits.
Charles Dunbar profiles the Yuki-onna yokai.
Bobbierob’s Secret Santa show was Haibane Renmei, and befitting of the series, he writes a bit about the themes of sin and salvation in the angelic series.
As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogsophere series of posts, each week, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.
Few anime series have contained such thought-provoking Christian themes and symbols as Puella Magi Madoka Magica. From the heavy presence of a Christ figure to Adam and Eve references, the show uses these ideas in an intelligent and artistic manner. Although I briefly discussed the symbolism of the apple in episode seven of the series, A Day Without Me, who is no stranger to analyzing Christian symbolism in anime, goes into much further detail than I in a terrific post about Madoka Magica’s “apple scene.” If you haven’t read it already, do yourself a favor and dive in:
Long before I launched this blog last year, one site, in particular, was making connections between anime and Christianity. In the “Spiritual Bridges,” Scot Eaton of Worship and the Arts, a “missional blog focused on Christ-centered worship, the arts, & Japan,” draws such parallels. His site has a ton of great posts (I’ll link to more in the future).
One of the my favorites, though, wasn’t written by Scot, but by a guest blogger, Robin White. His article is about Goro Miyazaki’s Tales From Earthsea. Having recently watch the movie (and really enjoying it – at least until the final act), I was eager to see what “bridges” the author would make. White points out a number of parallels between events in the film and those in the Bible, including comparisons with Adam and Eve and discussion about eternal life.
Please give it a read!
As I try to find the time to marathon Puella Magi Madoka Magica in an attempt to avoid any more spoilers, I had to stop to write about episode seven, in which allusions to and mentions of Christianity are far stronger than in any other episode to this point of the series. Though a few bloggers briefly mentioned the issue, I didn’t read anything in-depth (please let me know if I missed someone’s analysis), so I thought I’d have something to add.
Early in the episode, Sayaka and Kyoko, whose personality and background get far more fleshed out in this episode, discuss the idea of the pact that the girls agree to. They exchange their souls for a miracle. What’s interesting is that this is very much like Christianity, but in a warped way. While Sayaka is pained by and later begins to regret her decision, feeling she’s given up her soul for a miracle (and a relatively trivial one at that), Christianity emphasizes that we give our lives to Jesus when we receive the miracle of eternal salvation. The ideas are similar, though the feelings associated with the transfers are drastically different.
Now, for the meat of the symbolism. Kyoko leads Sayaka to a church and begins the temptation. A church is typically used as a moody setting for a scene (episode 5 of Cowboy Bebop comes to mind), but as should be expected of this high quality show, it becomes much more than that. It also emphasizes the fact that spiritual issues are also at hand. Read the rest of this entry