Chris Kincaid wrote a really interesting article recently comparing Superman and Goku, grounding it in the idea that the two heroes are fundamentally different – the first represents American, individualism, Christianity, and a perfect idea to strive for, while the latter represents community, Buddhism, fatherhood, and growth.
Chris contends that “[Superman] inspires us, but his other-worldliness keeps us from fully identifying with him.” I think a lot of people feel the same – it’s certainly been a point of criticism leveled toward Superman in the last couple of decades (and a prime point of comparison with Batman). I think some might take the next step and say that since Superman is frequently compared to Christ, we similarly can’t identify with a human that is God.
And yet, the opposite is true.
Christ compels us by his words and miracles – his God nature – but also by humanness. Christ expressed the broad spectrum of emotions we do, he experienced temptations as we have, and his human body succumbed to death as ours will. So, if Superman merely represents a symbol or acts as a perfect robot (unlike more recent depictions of the hero which are more human and more emotional), he doesn’t necessarily make for a good Christ figure.
And yet, Goku does in a variety of ways. Though it’s easy to soundly reject Goku as a Christ figure, and Chris points out the very purposeful comparisons we should instead make between his character and Japanese culture and religion, some ideas about Goku ring true for Christians as well. Goku’s love of community and certainly his love for enemies parallels Christ’s, as do his self-sacrificial nature and father-like character.
Ultimately, in different ways, Superman and Goku can represent Christ, and each can represent us. And maybe that sounds strange if we view God as cold and far from man, but it doesn’t at all when we realize that we are made in the very image of God and that Christ showed us the best way to be human – to be more like him.
Read Chris’ full article at Japan Powered:
And now for the round-up of other recent articles:
Maybe it’s easier for us to identify with a character like, say, Riku of Kingdom Hearts than either of the heroes discussed above, because his darkness is so very human, and his attempt to change may mirror our own.
Passion for something – whether it’s art, faith, or anything else – can sometimes hardly be contained. And maybe it shouldn’t. Perhaps thinking in that matter would have helped Shizuku as she figured out her passion in Whisper of the Heart.
Sakurako of Beautiful Bones has an obsession with death. Sam writes that Christians, in a sense, should feel the same. He also details a Korean animated short called Break Ups, which has a lot to tell us about communication in relationships, and perhaps about the most important love relationship of all. Finally, he examines how violence in anime like Akame ga Kill can be a good thing if it has purpose.
What is moral justice? What happens if it’s unbending? Concrete Revolutio dives right into those questions.
The Mormon church has decided that children of gay couples cannot be baptized until they turn eighteen, which, surprisingly, has a lot of parallels to Japan’s koseki system.
As part of the Something More series of posts, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK to be included.