My final selection for this weeklong series on analyzing Eden of the East characters through the lens of Christian spirituality will come as no surprise, nor will the the comparison I make. Akira Takizawa is unmistakably similar in character to Jesus Christ. And while the savior motif is extremely common in anime, Takizawa’s connection to that savior in particular is uncanny, on both surface and deeper levels.
In Eden of the East, this theme begins with Juiz’s words:
I pray for your continuing service as a savior.
It’s important to note not only the obvious, that Takizawa is a savior, but that he is continuing as a savior. Christians believe that the story of redemption – of Jesus saving mankind – began long before he came to earth in the incarnate form. Redemption began the minute that it was needed. Jesus, who has always been with the Father, was doing the work of redemption from the heavenly realm before He came to earth. Similarly, Takizawa was already doing work before He came to his new form – one without a memory. As Jesus walked the earth in a form totally new to Him, Takizawa starts from scratch in his new form. Their earthly missions started at some point in the past, but the action picks up (and is recorded) with their new lives.
Both are on earth as powerful, but not all-powerful beings. That’s right, Jesus, the man, was not all-powerful. At one point in the Bible, He mentions that only God, and not even He knows the time when the earth will end. This is not a contradiction when Christians say that Jesus is God. As man, Jesus’ powers were self-limited. Takizawa limited his own powers by having his memories wiped. But just as Takizawa became more able to accomplish his purposes by forgetting his past, Jesus was more effective in ministry He intended to create – one done by human hands – by not coming as a God whose image terrifies people in the Old Testament.
Speaking of purpose, the two also share a purpose. Very simply, it’s to save people. Takizawa is trying to save Japan. Jesus? Mankind. And each is limited by time and extenuating circumstances. Takizawa must complete his mission before any other seleção does and before his ample cash (though not so ample when thinking about the mission) runs out. Jesus was leading a revolution that caused alarm among the Jews, and more importantly, the Roman Empire, so it was only a matter of time before the government would execute Him. In fact, he only did His work for three years and died around the age of 33. So when you see a youthful Jesus in imagery – it’s true, he was young. He never lived to middle age.
Jesus’ interactions with people were similar to Takizawa’s. Jesus was extremely charismatic – the Bible records that people were immediately and powerfully changed just by meeting Him. Lives were radically altered. Takizawa, of course, changes everyone he comes in contact with – from Saki to the NEETs. Even other seleção are affected by Takizawa. As I mentioned in my previous post about Shiratori, Takizawa changes her through his character, and his interactions were her are similar to Jesus’ with women.
Those most impacted by Jesus may have been His disciples, some of whom left family and jobs in the middle of a workday to follow Him. The Eden of the East group grabs onto Takizawa fairly quickly – even the tentative Hirasawa. And within their groups, you could say each man had an “inner circle.” Those most affected, trusted and spoken to by Takizawa are probably Saki, Hirasawa and computer guy, Itazu. Jesus’ inner circle – those who He was most intimate with, were Peter, John and James. However, intimacy does not always equate faith. Jesus’ inner circle, while often displaying awesome signs of faith, also were lacking in that area, as demonstrated by Peter’s curse-filled denial of even knowing Jesus and the disciples’ flight when their savior was arrested. Takizawa’s inner-circle certainly doesn’t have complete trust in him, either. Hirasawa wants him spied on and Itazu betrays important information (albeit with faith in Takizawa). Even Saki, who is infatuated by Takizawa and trusts him deeply, starts to doubt him. Her role in this tale is very similar to Simon Peter’s in the Gospels.
In the end, even Jesus is betrayed by those he loved and those he protected. That’s right – it’s not the Devil that directly causes Jesus’ downfall (He is able to resist temptation, as Takizawa also did with his Devil) – it’s those whom Jesus worked for who killed him. Jesus came, in His own words, for the Jews first, and then the Gentiles. The Jewish leadership is the first to punish and turn over Jesus for execution; then it is the Gentile leadership that condemns Him to death on a cross. And of course, it is Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, who sells him out for 30 pieces of silver. The NEETs also betray Takizawa, in a way. Their troubling actions lead to great difficulties, and though Takizawa tries to save them, the NEETs are ungrateful. So painful is their betrayal that Takizawa chooses to have his mind wiped.
Jesus never did such a thing, but He must’ve been hurt that the people He came to save were shouting “Crucify! Crucify!” at him. We know that Jesus expressed emotions, such as being troubled and weeping when His close friend, Lazarus, died. How must He have felt when betrayed by one of His closest friends, abandoned by even His inner circle, turned over to death by His people and nailed to the cross by those He wanted to save! Takizawa must’ve felt similarly when he saved so many lives and tried to do so much for the NEETs, whom we know he had such a heart for (ex. his delusional daydreaming about the Johnnies).
In the end, each chooses to sacrifice himself. Jesus knows events are happening, chooses to let them happen (even telling Judas to go ahead and do the deed) and doesn’t fight back. He prays, accepting that He will die. Takizawa lets himself look the role of bad guy again for the benefit of others. And in the end, both are crowned. Takizawa makes Himself king, while Jesus is crowned in two ways: first, mockingly with a crown of thorns, and then in His resurrection when He is recognized by many He appeared to (and to all later Christians) as King of Kings. Both become kings in countries or over people groups who have no king.
Jesus came to “make all things new.” He restores Eden, if only spiritually for believers (though eventually through the new earth). Takizawa is establishing a new order as well, taking the chaos of modern Japan and “saving” the country. This spiritual connections, as well others, help make East of Eden one of the most interesting anime in recent memory – and one of my favorites.