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.