Untangled: Christianity Forbids Jojo Part 3’s Tarot Cards?

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.

jojo 1a

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!

 

Goldy

Goldy is an illustrator in training who lives in the depths of the Northwestern desert, where the sagebrush and the rattlesnakes play.She's known for procrastinating in just about everything, except when it comes to drawing and anime.

19 thoughts on “Untangled: Christianity Forbids Jojo Part 3’s Tarot Cards?

  1. I was about to say, I am not familiar with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, but I have been told repeatedly that tarot cards were originally simply used for games for centuries, and ~*then*~ the magical? aspects came into being. So it’s almost like they were taken away from their original purpose.

    1. From what I remember as a side subject mentioned in my art history classes, the origin of tarot cards came from regular trump decks created by commissioned artists for nobles (in France, I think). Each card had a suit, but also had a different figure on it to add interest, originality and appeal. Only later did people start adding meanings and names (mostly tied to Egyptian gods) to them, modifying the number of cards in the deck, and began the fortune telling stuff.
      That’s the farthest I’ve ever really heard about them, though. XD;

  2. It’s funny how Avdol, a man from Egypt a nation that’s predominately Muslim (with Christians in 2nd place) can make a living out of fortunetelling even though it’s prohibited in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s teaching’s as well.

    The naming convention for the 2nd half of part 3 follows a trend of Egyptian Gods, so I can imagine that your next post will touch on that at least a little

    1. There will always be plot holes. XD You do make an excellent point though and it’s something I hadn’t thought about. (Avdol’s religion, that is, and how it ties into his fortune telling). Thank you for your comment!

      Oh yes, I knew I was forgetting something in my response. The naming of Stands after Egyptian gods is most likely due to the fact that tarot cards were later tied to Egyptian deities (so to keep the theme going, Araki used them), plus, well, they are in Egypt now for the rest of Part 3.
      I will be sure to cover it all in my post when Part 3 ends.

  3. From Jojo, what is very troubling, are the parts that came after the “reset” (parts 7 and 8).

    I avoided reading part 7, and stopped reading part 8.

    Spoilers:

    In part 7, Jesus is shown as having traveled to North America after His Resurrection, and died there. Centuries later, in the XIX century from that universe, characters useparts of His Body to gain Stand powers… the plot is mainly about a horse race that has the secret purpose of gathering said parts.

    That plot element surfaced again in part 8.

    Back to the original series (the first 6 parts), the content that could be of concern too, is mostly fanservice and partial nudity (although the first chapter of the manga features uncensored female nudity):

    So, fanservice in the anime:

    Ep 18 from Battle Tendency (manga chapters 81-84)
    Ep 7 of Stardust Crusaders (manga chapters 130-133)

    I don’t remember other instances in the manga, but maybe there are more, so be careful.

    1. Since I haven’t finished reading Parts 7 or 8, I can’t really comment much on what you mention. I will say that I have never heard that said before about those parts in the manga from people I know who have read all of the Jojo manga, though.
      I will keep it in mind though, thanks!

      1. I suggest to avoid these two parts.

        If you want to know about the plot details, check the JJBA wiki, is very concise regarding that.

  4. “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.”

    Now here’s what I can’t figure— Why exactly is divination a sin? This is something that…never seems to add up.

    Basically Christians tend to say very odd, contradictory things about magic. On the one hand it says that tarot cards and fortune-telling have no actual power and therefore engaging in them is pointless. On the other hand they say that practicing magic is a sin and it will lead you to the Devil, who can influence you through the aforementioned powerless magic. This is all complicated even further by me basically being told outright to never do any magic by…by a demon. What?! XD

    As best as I can figure it out the real answer goes something like this: (1). God said it in the Bible, repeatedly, but gave no context for it whatsoever. And so humans have to guess the context. They have differing guesses. (2). The magic itself doesn’t have any power, but it might catch the attention of people who do—- And this is “putting other Gods before God.”

    1. I remember thinking about this very topic myself as I was typing out this reply. So, thanks for you comment!
      From what I can gather, the general practice of divination that’s mentioned in the Bible I believe is reference to the practices of mediums and such (like in Samuel 28) where everything from divination to contacting the dead are treated as the same. Both are gaining knowledge through supernatural means (i.e. talking to demons).
      But I think you are probably closer on your second thought concerning divination. The act of trying to predict the future is taking our focus off God and putting it on something (or someone) else, like cards for example.

  5. Thanks for the reply. Honestly, I’ve read over half of Part 7, and it surprisingly didn’t bother me that much. The idea comes off as blasphemous, but I just see it as what happened in an alternate universe (which is what Part 7 is). A lot of the characters are pray, and Jesus even helps the hero win one of his battles. That, and it seems to have gone back to the humor of Part 4, which is definitely a plus.

    1. Alternate universe or not, is still blasphemous. Also, according to the JJBA wiki, the characters actually merge the parts with their bodies, to gain the stand powers.

    2. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure doesn’t take itself seriously quite intentionally, I think. It’s supposed to be a fun ride full of weirdness and adventure. (all I know about part 7 is that there is a horse race and dinosaurs)
      I hinted in my initial response that Christianity and it’s symbols (and characters from the Bible) will be taken out of context sometimes in anime or manga. I’ve never seen it as a stab to Christianity or a way to make fun of it, but rather a creative interpretation of something or someone in the Bible. In a very weird way, it can be viewed as fan fiction of the Bible (I know I regret saying this in the future). This makes sense when you realize non-Christians only view the Bible as just another book with stories in it.
      To us Christians, it’s obviously much much more. But it’s important to separate the fact that not everyone views it as sacred.
      Should we, as Christians, be mad if someone uses the name of Jesus in their stories? Only if you want to, I guess. If it does bother you to watch it, then definitely don’t.
      But in the end, I think it shows how much of an impact Christ has made on the world.

      Thanks for you comment! 😀

      1. There are many productions that indeed are making an attack on Christianity. For example, the ones that are better researched but still protray Christianity in a bad manner, or Christians as evil, etc.

        1. Maybe so, but Jesus appears a a hero in the story as an ally to Johnny, and he even appears in physical form (flesh and blood, not as an illusion) twice in the story, showing that he’s not dead. And as far as I know, Christianity is never portrayed as evil in Jojo, in fact I got the exact opposite impression from reading Part 7. Did you actually read it all the way through?

          1. I was pointing to other series in that comment, not speaking about JoJo.

            No, I haven’t read part 7, only the plot details, characters, etc in the JJBA wiki.

            Even if there is some degree of positive protrayal, that doesn’t justify, or improve the glaring problem that I’ve been mentioning.

            1. I’ll also add this, David, as we close the discussion. We need to remember as Christians that we’re living in a world that is without Christ. Although all people are sinful and ultimately they are responsible for their actions, we have to understand God’s heart for the lost. There’s a difference here between people who claim they are Christian creating some work that devalues the grace of God and Japanese animators that have probably never heard the real gospel message. Are they attacking Christ? I don’t think so. Needing Christ? Absolutely.

              We must also remember that even “blasphemous” works can used for God’s glory. Think of Paul quoting the philosophers or Jude using extrabiblical texts. Even in non-Christian works, even in those that might decry God, we can point toward Christ (though as Goldy infers, each of us are in various parts of our walk and some are more easily lead astray than others by what we consume). Our entire site is predicated on this belief, and it’s an assumption that needs to be accepted by commenters as they continue to participate here.

              Again, I’ll emphasize Goldy’s suggestion that you contact her through email (or me – beneath DOT the DOT tangles AT gmail DOT com) if you have further questions.

              Thanks for being so active on our sites, and take care!

        2. I would love to continue this discussion with you, David A. but I would rather not extend it anymore on this post. Mainly, I’m curious as to which series you think portray Christianity in a bad manner or Christians as evil, etc. I can personally only think of one, maybe two out of all the anime. Please shoot me an email at goldenspines27@yahoo.com.
          Though, it may turn out that we all have different standards of what we regard as “okay” to watch as a Christian and what is not. Romans 14 talks about the varying levels of faith each Christian will have, which is something not only normal, but expected in the Christian church.

          Thank you again for your comments.

  6. “There are many productions that indeed are making an attack on Christianity. For example, the ones that are better researched but still protray Christianity in a bad manner, or Christians as evil, etc.”

    Honestly I see this problem happening more symbolically than directly, and with video games more often than anime. It’s called….”Crystal Dragon Jesus.” No seriously, that’s what referring to Christianity symbolically without ever referencing it is called on TvTropes.

    Basically….Nine times out of ten, your average JRPG is never going to directly mention Jesus, Biblical characters, or even Satan. What it does instead is create a religion that happens to look an awful lot like Roman Catholicism. Half the time it attacks this religion vehemently (Final Fantasy Tactics, Tales of Symphonia, Shin. Megami. Tensei O_O; ), and the other half of the time their target is very explicitly Satan (Kefka’s Trinity mockery in Final Fantasy VI and then showing up as a goddamn archangel, Sephiroth being one prolonged Lucifer reference in FFVII). Let’s not even talk about Barthandelus’ strong resemblance to a Pope— And a pipe organ. XD

    So…the Japanese think Christianity is super cool in terms of imagery, and use it a LOT.

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