Last year, I gave my 12 favorite posts about anime and religion to end the year. And though I had to leave out a number of great article to fit within that number, I was generally happy with the list. This year, I just had to expand my list to twenty to match the volume of great content being written by anibloggers.
Yesterday, I gave numbers 1-10; here are the remaining ten, in chronological order:
A particularly strange case is that of Saiyuki – the story is based on a a founding myth of Mahayana Buddhism, for cripe’s sake, and the main character is a Buddhist priest, but in the anime at least, we see statues of the Virgin Mary protecting a town from demons in a way that nothing Buddhist can.
Christianity poses an interesting solution to this problem by offering a God in two parts (well, three, but let’s set that aside). God the father is perfect, like Medaka: he is to be feared and worshiped, but not befriended. Christ, the son, is fully human and hence fully broken, as shown by his death. So unlike Medaka, the Christian god can be both perfect and a broken human: a friend.
And in the second season, is not Kenshin’s journey to Kyoto reminiscent of Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem? Even the true object of the journey is rather similar: just as Christ wished to put the old man to death in us so that we may have life in Christ, Kenshin wishes to put the man slayer side of himself to death. Also, Shishio is pretty much Satan, whom Christ defeated by His passion and death.
And Iori comes to a remarkable conclusion. All the masks she has worn, all the idols she has worshipped: they are worthless rubbish. She devoted her life to being accepted by others, but she already was accepted all along. Taichi’s selfless love has exorcised Inori and cast out her demons.
In some ways I see the world of religion (Christianity in particular) as the Reki to my Rakka. The masses of the world were born told they are fallen and sinful—trapped in an endless cycle of punishment generation to generation from which there is no escape. To those who have the courage to stand up for themselves and ask for salvation in this world—in this life—the only life we know for sure we will ever have—I extend a hand to pull you off the tracks and out of the way of the train you can’t escape on your own.
What really interested me about this scene was how the girl knew where to find it in the first place- perhaps it is an example of a miracle those who have faith in God can experience? In any case, I believe this scene further highlights the difference between the pair: the man has no hope for the future, whereas we can now infer that the girl’s possible faith in God is what gives her hope.
By holding fictional characters with the same faults before our eyes, our identification with them will hopefully reveal how we have gone wrong and the necessity of our repentance. Otherwise, we shall be like the tormentors in Hell Girl, claiming our innocence despite the heinousness of our offenses and dying with final impenitence on our souls.
I think the reason I liked video games and anime so much was that the emotions I experienced pointed to something higher, something beyond myself. Even when I was an atheist there was a noble enigma that I felt about these heroes in JRPGs or anime that I couldn’t acknowledge about the real world – after all, such moral categories didn’t actually exist. But these were shows, often not modeled on our world, and thus I allowed for the required metaphysics to exist for the sake of entertainment.
Read also: Orthodoxy, Anime, and Hermeneutic
In political terminology, Totalitarianism is a political system that seeks to control all aspects of society. It’s a mode of governing that, while not unknown, is sufficiently alien to us to have it featured in various dystopian works so that we may better understand the commentary that particular work seeks to levy. What interested me in Shin Sekai Yori’s case, is that the group which wields the power in this world is very distinctly Buddhist.
Read also: Colloqium: Shin Sekai Yori Episode 6
Man is body and soul, the division between them is abhorrent and unnatural, which is why man is not fully judged until the second coming when the two will be united once again. The communion (I rather like that phrase) between body and soul is a theme that plays out in Madoka, especially in the tragic character of Miki Sayaka.