Holy Noragami, Treating Jesus Like Kami

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.

Art by Mimi N (Pixiv ID 41251088)
Art by Mimi N (Pixiv ID 41251088)

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.


9 thoughts on “Holy Noragami, Treating Jesus Like Kami

  1. Why must you write such convicting posts, TWWK? My time is where I struggle. I tend to get busy and not prioritize my time for God…..

  2. See now you’ve gone and raised a fascinating parallel… xD Now I only think of all those times some disaster happens and people cry “Oh, God is angry with our sin!” or some such, as if that is the cue to behave. It isn’t until Hiyori learns about Yato’s wrath that she starts stepping on eggshells around him…Hmm…May have to run with this point depending how the series develops… ^_~

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, it’s definitely an interesting dynamic, and partly because of the parallel I see, I’m really eager to see how the relationships between Hiyori and Yato and Yukine and Yato play out.

  3. The interesting thing about fear in Christianity and any other virtuous disposition towards God is that they all lead to love. And so, holy fear might be better termed respect. God the Father does not want us cringing before Him or avoiding Him out of fear. We view God the Son as the mediator between God and Man, but he is also the exact reflection of God the Father: everything the Father is likewise is the Son, saving that the Son is begotten, while the Father is the principium of the Holy Trinity. Even if we view the Son as Mercy and the Father as Justice, the Father sent the Son into the world to obtain mercy for us and the mercy obtained by the Son brings us to justice.

    I think as long as we show piety to God and sincerely repent of our sins and the obstacles we place in God’s way as He tries to lead us to righteousness, we show holy fear.

    1. I definitely think one thing that’s misunderstood among the populace in general, and even Christians, is that which you speak of – the importance of fear in loving God. This is an idea that comes naturally to me, but probably doesn’t for other. And even for me, I understood it better, as I have so many other details regarding God’s love for/relationship with us, through my own experience as a dad.

      Thanks for bring this important topic up, Joe!

  4. I came here looking to see if the writers of the show were Christian themselves. I couldn’t find any details on that but I’m glad I found this. It’s nice to know there are other Christians who watch anime out there.

  5. No disrespect intended, but if you think about it, Iesu-sama would fit right in with the Yatogami. He even has 12 regalias, with Peter as His Exemplar. Peter has that one awesome power of travelling back through time, even going as far back as David, when he used Peter to crack Goliath’s skull and incapacitate him.

    Iesu-sama is way cooler though.

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