Created and developed far from Europe and the Americas, and conceived in a country where less than 1% of the populace is Christian, manga could hardly be called out for inaccurately portraying Christianity. It would be silly for calling out mangaka for getting the story of Christ wrong or for presenting the Bible as “just another religion.” Still, manga is full of religious references to God and gods, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality. And that’s the idea behind this new series of posts, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.
Today’s claim comes from that PTSD suffering soul from Aldnoah.Zero, Lt. Marito. When speaking to Dr. Yagarai, and thinking about his past military exploits, he says the following:
Sins you’ve committed cling to your soul and haunt you forever and sins that have gone unpunished aren’t forgiven until you die.
The claim then is two-fold, about how sins affect us both now and forevermore.
Let’s look at the first part of the claim, that sins “cling to your soul” and, like a specter, haunt those who’ve committed them. I think perhaps few would dispute this portion. Those who’ve done wrong often can’t shake their deeds, with the memories of such sin affecting their mind and even their actions. From literature, the great example is Lady Macbeth and her descent into madness after her role in regicide. But we might also be able to look within at our sins and how they’ve guilted us and maybe in the worst case, caused us to detach from others and become something less than what we once were.
In Aldnoah.Zero, Koichiro Marito reflects his own words. He is a shell of himself physically, unable to pilot a Terran mecha when a Kataphrakt attacks in episode five. And though he isn’t drinking by this time, it is insinuated that Marito is an alcoholic, and probably because of his past “sins,” however he would define them.
The second half of the claim, though, is more troublesome. Marito says, “Sins that have gone unpunished aren’t forgiven until you die.” In other words, one’s sins must be paid for to be forgiven. In some anime, characters are determined to pay for their sins not through justice, but through atonement (Kenshin Himura comes to mind). Marito doesn’t mention this very Japanese (and very generally human) concept of atonement, though, either because he believes deeply in the concept of punishment or because he realizes that the person he has become can’t live an atoning life.
But it’s here that we see two items in the claim that aren’t accurate. First, Marito’s quote claims that death leads to clearing of the slate, as it were. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches something quite different, that our sins are rather payable upon death. Physical death is down payment, of sorts, for sin – eternal death is the full payment. If our sins aren’t forgiven in our earthly lives, we’ve lost the opportunity for forgiveness entirely.
Secondly, and connected to that idea, is that there is another way out, and it’s not through atonement – at least not by the sinner. Christ has already suffered the punishment, and God offers forgiveness through that sacrifice. People do not have to – and in fact, cannot be forgiven by punishment for their own punishments. Only a perfect judge, whose laid the punishment upon a perfect sacrifice, can do that. What we could not do, Christ has done once for all.
Let’s see how Lt. Marito’s claim grades out on the judgement scale:
Nada | Not even close | Off-Base | 50/50 | Needs Work | Mostly There | On the Money
Marito’s claim gets our medium score, 50/50. While he correctly describes the effect of sin and the need for punishment, Marito doesn’t understand that forgiveness is given freely, not earned.
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6 thoughts on “Fact Check: Aldnoah.Zero’s Sins”
But what makes your beliefs the facts here? And what makes them more valid than any other belief grounded in an old faith?
You know, that’s a really good question. Thanks for posing it.
I think Christianity pretty clearly presents itself as either the one and only truth, or not the truth at all. From Genesis to Revelation, it’s so very clear that in emphasizing that it’s the only way – so you either accept that or don’t. There’s no room for Christianity AND something else.
And there are certainly lots of reasons to support the Bible as truth – God knows there are a gazillion websites giving evidence. But to that, it really just makes a lot of sense to me. I see in myself, and in the world, the evilness of man – I can’t disassociate myself and my deeds, even things I’ve done this very day, from that which is going on with Isis or in a million other places around the world.
While I’m capable of great good, too, there’s nothing in me that says I can save myself. That I can in any way atone for what I’ve done and for what I do. And I’m restless – I can’t just sit back and say everything’s alright when it’s clearly not, when a struggle ensues within me and when there’s so much evil going on in the world.
The answer that Christ lays out – that only forgiveness through grace is the answer – just makes incredible sense. Grace changes everything. And scripture so systematically, over thousands of years of writing, explains how grace can only been given by a holy God and through Christ’s sacrifice. The older I get, the more I see the nature of man, the more I read the Bible, and the more I try to love others, the more I see grace through Christ as the answer.
Thanks again for the question. I hope you’re not offended by me stating this as THE truth – it is what I believe. If you have more questions, please comment back or send me an email (beneath DOT the DOT tangles AT gmail DOT com).
And when I look at this whole notion of karmic “balance” and see what it’s doing to the Japanese themselves (sixth highest suicide rate in the world, I believe), I so badly want these good people to finally find and believe the Good News.
Absolutely. I’m thankful that there are a lot of mission teams focused specifically on bringing the gospel to Japan.
Very good stuff Charles! I really enjoyed reading this post,and like the new series. Your ideas inspire my own. I agree with what you said, especially liked how you ended it: What we could not do, Christ has done once for all.
To think that our sins are “forgiven when we die” gives everyone an excuse to live however you want, good or bad. Even murder/rape/theft/lying/cheating would be ok, because hey, we are forgiven when we die! “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) so might as well LIVE IT UP! Live however you want. But that’s so untrue, because we will be responsible with how we lived our life before God.
My name is in the Book of Life, and it records everything I do. God sees all, and will judge us based on what we did, and what we didn’t do, if we lived for Christ, or lived for ourselves and sin. Life is such a blessing, don’t waste your eternity by wasting your life.
Thanks for the comments, Michael. They remind me that even born-again Christians have to be reminded that it doesn’t end – it BEGINS with our salvation. If we’re not reaching out to others in love, we’re wasting the grace given us and not understanding Christ’s heart for humanity. In a sense, Christians should remember the YOLO – but with an eternal perspective.