My fall 2010 anime season came to a close this week, as I finally finished a show I’d been watching in globs throughout the autumn. Fortune Arterial, based on a visual novel, follows Kohei Hasekura, a student who becomes involved with Erika Sendo, the school’s student council Vice President and…a vampire. I enjoyed the show for its delightful mediocrity. It was sometimes boring with characters that were alright, a kind but relatively forgetful male lead, a fairly boring storyline, pretty animation, some comic moments, and an almost-trivial climax.
However, I kept watching because I enjoyed the nostalic tone of the festival episodes and…it was purty. The two leads also made for a nice couple. However, I was also surprised (and delighted) to see unintended Christian symbolism in the show’s final episode (spoilers below). As four characters took the stage in the climax of episode 12, I couldn’t help but compare them important characters and people discussed in the New Testament.
Kaya Sendou ~ God
Kaya Sendou, who plays a small but pivotal role in the series, is Erika’s mother. She sends her daughter to Shuchikan Academy only to allow her to find a servant. Harsh and seemingly unmerciful, she represents the view many have of the Christian God. A way has been established, and Kaya demands that it be followed. She has the right to take Kiriha’s blood whenever she wants. Before the New Covenant, God demanded our blood. Because of sin, we were a marred creation who had to be be judged, with the sentence being death. Kaya, as God, follows these rules and will accept nothing less. However, with the series coming to a quick end, the audience is left to wonder about Kaya’s background and if her actions cover a more merciful nature – not much different from a God who both judges and loves.
Kiriha Kuze ~ Men and Women of the Old Covenant
Kiriha Kuze is Erika and Kohei’s classmate. Later in the series, she is revealed to be the servant of Kaya. A vampiric servant, in the series, is on who enters into a contract with a vampire. That vampire now completely controls the individual’s actions and can take his or her blood. In exchange, the servant now becomes immortal and is granted superhuman powers. Kuze is at the will of Kaya, despite a want for freedom. She, like mankind, is subservient to a master. There’s a lack of grace and warmth in this relationship, which is why Erika rejects the system. Yet, it is the system of old that Kaya demands and that Kiriha must live by.
Erika Sendo ~ Jesus Christ
Erika, however, wants to establish a new system. She wants to find a new way for vampires to live. Jesus Christ came and established a New Covenant – no longer would any who lived by His way have to pay for their sins; He would cover their sins with His blood. Just as Jesus’ covenant was merciful and gracious, Erika will be the same to the human bound to her. The relationship established will be different – Hasekura does not have to suffer the consequences of a harsh system; he will instead live as a friend (and possibly lover) with Erika. The Bible describes one’s relationship with Jesus and the Father in the same way – it’s a relationship of love.
Kohei Hasekura ~ Men and Women of the New Covenant
Kohei will join with Erika in establishing this new way for vampires to survive. Erika’s way will not bind him to her as a mere servant; instead, he will assist, care for, and love her. This relationship is much more intimate in nature than Kaya’s and Kiriha’s, and it matches well that of mankind and God in the New Testament, which is described by words like child, father, and friend. The final setting is dramatic, as Kohei confronts his demons (sorta literally) in front of others and gives his testimony regarding Erika (Jesus), almost as if at a revival meeting or during confession at a retreat.
Really, the entire series can be viewed as a conversion story. Kohei starts out at a new student at school, like a person first investigating Christianity. There, as he joins the student council, he begins to discover this “faith,” new to him. Erika at first seems aloof, but once he gets to know her, he feels a deep, intimate connection with her. This isn’t much different from seekers who are attracted to the person of Jesus Christ. And as a conversion experience may take a long time, Kohei’s experience does as well, and he takes a series of steps to “deepen his faith,” accepting that he wants to know that vampires exist (“I’m willing to accept the existence of God – I can’t turn back once I’ve begun to see the wonder of Jesus”), he allows Erika to suck his blood (“I’m willing to join this faith and be a part of it”), and he finally declares that He’ll be together with Erika (“I’m willing to allow Jesus to not only be my Savior, but Lord as well, in this New Covenant”). Kohei’s journey to closeness with Erika reflects the journey of a seeker becoming a Christian very well.
As Erika and Kohei move foward, there are sure to be bumps in the road. Likewise, no Christian journey is perfect. But the series ends on a hopeful note, with the two physically and emotionally connected together – a hope that springs eternal.
There’s a new way to be human
It’s nothing we’ve ever been
There’s a new way to be human
It’s spreading under my skin
There’s a new way to be human
Where divinity blends
With a new way to be human
11 thoughts on “Finding the Invisible God in…Fortune Arterial”
So..uhm..The Lord is a Vampire? At least the Old Testament one I guess.
I keed, I keed…
Now I have to get that (paraphrased) Smashing Pumpkin’s “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” line out of my head.
Well, ya know, metaphorically. 😛
Now in turn, you’ve got Billy Corgan stuck in my head also…but with 1979. 😛
Fortune Arterial is an unlikely place to find Christian symbolisms. I love all the parallels you drew! ^ ^
Thanks for the fascinating read!!
Thanks! It was really neat how the characters, at least from this part of the story, fell into these roles. 🙂
Vampires huh? An interesting comparison. Although I find the comparison between vampire-ness and Christianity a bit awkward XD. But it’s still pretty cool.
Haha, well, thank you…kind of. 😛
This post is really cool! I’m so glad I found this site. I’ve recently been becoming more liberal with my anime viewing, but before I stopped Fortune Arterial because of ”fanservice”. I’m going to go back to it now, though. Even Fractale used to “scare” me, but I feel more confident now. I hope you keep doing these posts!
Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, I really didn’t like the fanservice in Fortune Arterial, though it’s by no means over-the-top by anime standards. It just…comes out of nowhere sometimes. Luckily, it’s really only pressing in one out of every few episodes.
I hope that you do more posts relating anime to Christianity in the future!
But yes, I used to be very wary of fanservice. I still don’t know if I should watch it or not, but I’ve been missing out on a lot of series that I wanted to watch (like Haruhi, too)…I’m just wondering if God is ok with people becoming more liberal in such things.
I’m sure I will do more posts, because, you see…my entire blog is about anime and Christianity! Almost every post discusses anime in terms of Christian spirituality, though some are just about religion in general. I hope you’ll come by from time to time to check the posts out!
Regarding fan service and sin, I think it’s a complicated issue. Remember Jesus’ teaching about the seriousness of sin – cutting off the hand if it causes you to sin and so forth. If fan service causes one to sin, then it should be avoided.
For me, I don’t like any kind of fan service, and I abhor gratuitous fan service, which is fine since I think those shows mostly stink anyway.
Here are a couple of posts that kind of relate to the idea of what a Christian might watch and what they might not want to:
And speaking of Haruhi, in terms of fan service, that series is certainly better than Fortune Arterial. Here’s a guest post from my blog about Haruhi (it may contain spoilers):
I agree…Not only is fanservice spiritually danagerous (although personally it does not cause me to sin with lust and related things), but in terms of the anime itself it seems to cheapen characterization.