As a follower of Christ, one of my favorite things is seeing God in areas where you least expect Him. This is especially true in anime, and writing this column, “Anime Today,” has been wonderful practice in seeking out these appearances in modern form. Although many Christians make the mistake of believing God to only show His hand in exclusively “Christian” media (I use that term loosely), as an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, throughout history He has proven Himself to use people from every walk of life to present His truth (just look at the interactions of ancient Israel with the gentile nations). With this in mind, Gingitsune has continued to prove itself a testament to both general biblical principles as well as specific teachings of Jesus Christ during his ministry.
As usual, some of the most edifying themes I identify in media such as anime are not overt, but the more subtle ones that can often be missed. This is the case with the topic of today: trusting in an invisible God.
One of the more intriguing, yet less central, characters of Gingitsune is Makoto’s father, Tatsuo. A kind, unassuming Shinto priest, Tatsuo carries out his duties diligently from episode to episode, all the while caring for his daughter and Satoru. In the midst of his day-to-day activities, however, exists an inspiring character from which a believer can gain much. In particular, I was finally struck in episode nine by something that is easy to miss: his loyal devotion to the heralds (and gods) he serves.
Although Makoto and Satoru receive the majority of the show’s writing attention, Tatsuo continues to serve in the background with no complaints. This in itself could be a topic of discussion, but what is particularly striking about it is that he does all of this without the ability to even see the heralds he is even serving. Although his late wife could see them, and his daughter Makoto can now see them, Tatsuo has (assumingly) lived a life blind to the supernatural. However, this does not stop him from not only serving the supernatural, but also wholeheartedly believing in it.*
Stopping here provides an adequate presentation of what it means to follow a power that we cannot see, something that many Christians struggle with (myself included), but Gingitsune does not stop here. In fact, as I have seen throughout the series, Gingitsune follows through with some of its minor presentations by providing a more full picture of what the writers want to say.
At this point in the series, not only are we reminded of an undying devotion to an invisible (Shinto) power, but we are given the flip side of this faith: the perspective of the divine. Although not a god himself, Gin has his own views of Tatsuo and his faith. Despite being perhaps less focused than your average Shinto priest, Gin seems to give him great trust. In fact, this even extends to giving him more leeway than perhaps is normal for a herald-priest relationship (this is especially exemplified in Gin’s reaction to Haru’s dissatisfaction with Tatsuo).
This relationship reminds me greatly of many figures throughout the Old Testament. For instance, in the case of Abraham (Abram at first), on many occasions Abraham performed actions that were less than pleasing in God’s eyes. In one case, he lied to Pharaoh about his relationship with Sarah (Sarai at first) as his wife, saying that she was his sister (which wasn’t entirely a lie considering she was his half-sister, but I digress) in order to protect his own skin. Despite God’s displeasure with this sin, because of Abraham’s great faith in his God, God still delivered him from trouble by cursing Pharaoh. Another instance of this comes in the form of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba. Despite being a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), he still fell to the sin of adultery. However, due to his great faith and repentance, God forgave him and continued to work through him.
Unless something else is revealed later in the story past what has been released as of writing, Gin’s treatment of Tatsuo seems to parallel this attitude to an extent. Tatsuo shows great faith, faith that could even be considered greater than Makoto’s due to the difference in their ability to “see,” and this shows. This, then, causes Gin to act appropriately.
Christians can learn much from this image as, again, Gingitsune continues to reflect principles applicable to every believer.
*The distinction here is important, as well as the order, for someone can “serve” the supernatural without actually believing it. In fact, this describes the majority of those who would be considered “culturally Christian,” or, more generally, “culturally religious” (as this can be attributed to any belief system that believes in the supernatural). Going to church and donating can still take place without an actual belief in anything beyond.
Editor’s Note: Though of a slightly different topic, note that we have a series of posts called The Invisible God in Anime and Manga.