In recent years, Japanese animators have had their fun with their various religious figures, from Jesus and Buddha to the host of kami in Shintoism. Noragami continues this trend of poking fun at the supernatural. Though it’s become a bit more serious in recent episodes, the show still continually makes fun of it’s hero, the Shinto god of war, Yato.
In America, certain groups would be at an uproar if a show featured Christ as a main character and continually made laughs at his expense. It’s far different in Japan, where Yato is a fictional character meant to stand among many other kami. Religion in Japan is far different than that in America – not are there many Shinto gods, but the majority of Japanese identify as Buddhist in addition to Shinto practitioners. Most are also atheist.
But despite these differences in culture, I would argue that Christians often treat God as the characters in Noragami do Yato. While we may not be so brazen in how we disrespect Christ, it’s in our actions that we relegate Him as something less than He is. Our language, our values, our goals, our time, our money – do these reflect an obedience to Christ, and thus, a strong faith in Him?
Maybe our modest actions (or inaction) are more brazen than we think. After all, the Bible is clear that God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7), while Jesus also says that our sinful desires and motivations make us as guilty as those that act upon these thoughts. Unfortunately, it’s easy to become complacent in how we act toward God.
Perhaps things would be different if we could see God in the light we’ve begun to see Yato. Flashbacks reveal how Trust and Betrayal era Kenshin that Yato once was – a fearsome god, as Kofuku says. Confronted with that, I do believe Yukine and Hiyori, who are already beginning to fear Yato a bit, would wholly change their attitude toward him.
Unfortunately, the human heart seems to have as much difficulty seeing the invisible God as our eyes do. And it’s a shame, because through Christ, we don’t have to face a terrible, awesome God – we get to face one whose face is full of love.