Bad Theology in Anime: Meow Meow Japanese History

Meow Meow Japanese History (Neko Neko Nihonshi) is a short-form anime series where cats reenact various tales from throughout Japanese history. What you are in for is a bunch of silliness, not a treatise on deep theology. That said – I want to touch briefly on the presentation of Christianity in the series.

About 1% of all people in Japan are Christians today. Some of the first introduction of the Christian faith to the Japanese people came from primarily Portuguese missionaries in the 1500s. During this time period, Oda Nobunaga was working on uniting all of Japan under one, unified banner. I’ve spoken a bit here previously about this introduction of Christianity as it was presented in the series Nobunaga no Shinobi. This gets things wrong as well, but does try to…kind of show the roots of Christianity and what it’s about. Meow Meow Japanese History takes a different approach.

Christianity is presented in a very, very secular fashion. There are crosses, but there is also jingle bells and Santa hats. They discuss briefly that baptism is important, and then dump water on a cat. Yet the majority of the discussion or presentation is on one thing—Christmas imagery.

That’s about it. Christianity as a whole, a complex faith deeply rooted in traditions from 2,000 years and further rooted in the additional thousands upon thousands of years of Jewish tradition before it, is presented merely as a secular Christmas card. That’s not Christianity, that’s secular, non-religious Christmas and I can live without that.

Christmas matters, let us not pretend it does not. The remembrance of the virginal birth of Christ, our Lord and Savior as He entered into the world, is a huge moment for our faith. We should remember Christmas and remember the true roots of the holiday, not focusing solely on the secular. Yet, we must also remember some of the basics and important fundamental aspects of the Christian faith.

We must remember that we are all sinners. We must remember that apart from Christ Jesus, we are unable to be in the presence of the almighty, perfect God. We must remember that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross allowed for our atonement from our own sin. We must remember that Christ is divine, fully man and fully God. We must remember that Christ came back on the third day, rising again to prove to mankind that He is exactly who He claims to be. Jesus Christ is Lord and God.

This matters and I get this is hard to convey in a less than 10 minute short trying to explain quickly Japanese history as explained by cats. Yet, some of it could have been included.

Christmas is not the only feature of Christianity that matters, even if it is one of the shiny ones that the world sees. We need to explain and present the Gospel as Christians by our actions and attitude. We are called to live in Christ-like love radically caring for our neighbors and enemies. We are called to forgive as we are forgiven by the Lord. We are called to stand up for the less fortunate. We are called to share each others burdens. We are called to do these things not out of obligation, but out of love of God.

When given an opportunity to explain the basics of Christianity ask yourself how you describe it. Meow Meow Japanese History chose to go the easy shiny route by giving us Christian kitties with angels singing secular Christmas songs. We are called to do better. Give real theology, not simplistic, useless pop theology.

Meow Meow Japanese History (Neko Neko Nihonshi) Seasons 1 and 2 can be streamed legally at Crunchyroll.


7 thoughts on “Bad Theology in Anime: Meow Meow Japanese History

  1. It seems to me that we are called to have an answer for anyone who asks the reason for our hope, but I think it is out of place to ask MMJH to provide one. Likely the creators of the series have only the most passing familiarity with Christianity, and it pretty much does mean just Christmas to them (as I think it would to most Japanese). I don’t think this is worth criticizing them over: at the very least, episodes like this provide an opportunity to talk further at length about the faith–as you have done here.👍

    1. While I’m not asking MMJH to provide the details about our cause for hope, I was hoping a little bit more could have been presented. Baptism was discussed, very briefly with a “cats don’t like to get wet.” I mean…the title says it all – this is wrong theology. Is it to be expected? Yes. That said, even something as basic as “Christianity isn’t one big Christmas celebration” would have been nice.

      1. Hmm, I see better what you’re saying. Yes, that would have been nice, although I don’t typically expect shows like this to provide that sort of detail. So it was a pleasant surprise to see this week’s Black Clover center around the three Theological Virtues, which is clearly Christian in origin!

  2. I was watching the opening of Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and a theological discussion of Berserk online. I find it interesting that for a country that has only one percent of Christian s their concept of negative or abusive forms of Christianity is what dominates most manga and Anime. When did they ever feel the ” Christian” abuses of religion? Or is that their concept adopted from American pop culture or western sceptism? I criticize them for not doing research but are willing to build a strawman for slapping around. It’s funny how most Christian s who watch Anime don’t deny that Church leaders have used religious fanaticism to inspire wars and manipulate people. We are rarely the first to deny abuses but you would think the Japanese wouldn’t be so quick to demonize or consider foolish a quiet nearly insignificant part of their own country. What do the neighbors of Japanese Christians say about them? Rarely does Anime writers go out of their way to ask that question. There is a kind of chosen ignorance that I find disturbing for a people willing to adopt western mythology and specifically Tolkien’s fantasy ideas. They do heavy research on some amazing topics for the detailed informed Anime but they barely scratch the surface when it comes to Christians. It’s seems like a kind of in conflict. They adopt the indulgences of West but only after they strain out any Christian meaning.

  3. I describe Xianity as a vulgar death cult that has spent centuries spreading misery and genocide throughout the world. And also a stupid one that is based on completely misinterpreting every Jewish text it comes across.

    The fact that the cat anime didn’t talk about all the garbage that Xianity has spread and how Xianity has been a vanguard for imperialism shows that they were kinder to the religion than I would be.

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