In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers. For today’s post, an anonymous reader sent the following:
The question that I wanted to ask concerns the series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. I know that several people have given it positive reviews here, but I can’t help feel that I’m sinning by watching it, seeing as in Part 3 the stands are named after tarot cards, which are forbidden by Christianity. I know the series has nothing really to do with the occult, and there’s actually quite a lot of really good moral elements in the series, but that part just makes me worried. I was just wondering you guys thoughts on this?
Hello! I’m glad you enjoy our articles and thanks for your excellent question!
Interestingly enough, Part 3 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the more well known story lines and its conversion into anime is most likely what has caused it the whole series get more attention in the past year. As you know, unlike Part 1 and Part 2 of Jojo, Part 3 uses the structure of tarot cards as an element to the story; each card is assigned to a main character’s Stand, both for the good guys and the bad guys. Plus, there is a character who does fill the role of “fortune teller”, yet the topic of occult is not dealt with very much despite that. Plus, the use of the tarot card types assigned to character types is not a new thing in anime and video games, which may also be another reason Part 3 is more well known.
As far as I’ve read in the Old Testament in several places, divination is a sin, and the modern day use of tarot cards are used for that purpose. Though, the cards themselves are just cards, nothing is at all magical about them. The creators of anime and the mangaka in Japan that add these elements in their stories do not view them seriously, but rather fantastically and often romanticize their meanings to suit the needs of their story. To them, the tarot card figures are pretty much titles given to characters to define their roles in a story (similar to role playing games where you have classes (fighter, healer, rogue, etc.)). You will also sometimes see Christian symbolism in anime as well, usually from the Catholic church since that’s the main branch of Christianity that was introduced in Japan. And even though it’s not as frequent since most Japanese are not very well versed in Christianity, it’s not taken seriously in a story either beyond “I like these symbols and some of the ideas behind them, so let’s use them.”
I tend to not take the use of tarot card naming seriously in anime because I know this difference in cultural perspective exists. Yet, it’s also not a reason to ignore it entirely if seeing the cards even mentioned causes you to sin or stumble in your faith (for example). Everyone’s heart is different in regards to these things. While I did mention the cards themselves being just cards, it’s often not very simple to just dismiss all the baggage that can come along with them.
In fact, that is one of the main reasons all the brilliant writers of Beneath the Tangles are devoted to watching anime and writing about titles from a Christian perspective. We do our best to inform and encourage our readers, so then they can decide according to their own convictions what they will watch and what they won’t.
If it helps, once Jojo Part 3 comes back from Christmas break in January 2015, I plan to continue my review series with it once Part 3 concludes and I’ll try to focus on this topic a bit more if I can. Hopefully we won’t have to wait forever, though. It has a excellent final battle and has one of the best/worst villains in any series I’ve seen.
In conclusion, with all the cultural facts and other rambling aside, in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, tarot cards are not used for divination, just for naming. But even then, the mangaka runs out of those for naming Stands and just resorts to naming them after, mainly American, 20th century rock and pop artists (which we see a lot more in part 4, though, to be honest).
Thank you again!