I perceived a fascinating juxtaposition in the new arc of Boogiepop and Others. Boogiepop refers to herself as a shinigami or the Reaper, aka Death, but what are we to make of the Imaginator? The Imaginator is obviously the villain, but I wondered why a villain should be referred to as “he who imagines”? While pondering this, a rather famous George Bernard Shaw quote popped into my head. Robert Kennedy’s reworking of it is more often quoted, but the original comes from Shaw’s play, Back to Methuselah: “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?'” Many people point to this as an inspirational quote, but the same character who said that, said elsewhere, “No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil,” (Gen. 3: 4-5). Yes, the serpent in the garden of Eden speaks both lines! One may as well be inspired by the quote, “It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven!”
But, you might say that this is a very tenuous connection between the Imaginator and the devil. From Boogiepop and Others, one can also adduce the face that the Imaginator’s first acts are suicide and murder: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof,” (John 8:44). Lies hold a certain connection with murder. You might even dub a lie murder in the metaphysical arena. With lies, people murder the truth and pretend that something without existence has being.
There is another kind of lie by which the devil works is temptation. Temptation tries to turn a creature away from the virtue and goodness which is proper to it. The Imaginator tempts Jin Asukai in the same way the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden: that he use his power to make himself like God, meting out death and judgment and shaping souls as he will. Lastly, the name Imaginator reminds us that God and the devil fight for people’s souls through their imaginations. But, God and the devil direct the imagination in different ways. God has direct access to the human soul and can directly enlighten our understanding. Indeed, we cannot know anything at all without God helping us to understand (John 1:9). On the other hand, the devil tempts by throwing deceitful images at us or through words: he has no direct access to our thoughts. Nor can the devil directly bolster our will. Just like the devil, the Imaginator tells Jin that she cannot make him follow the course of her desires.
Of the two kinds of thoughts at war in the imagination, these thoughts pertain either to what is good and true or evil and false, the former having being from God while the latter do not. Thus, the Imaginator, in describing herself to Jin, says, “I’d say I’m more of a future that’s taken form in the present. Or maybe a hypothetical possibility given substance.” She’s a thing which tends towards non-existence: the future does not exist–nor does a hypothetical possibility. Like the devil, the Imaginator tempts people towards a false way of action—a way which is not true to their created nature. Conversely, Jesus Christ is the Truth and leads His disciples to perfect themselves according to their divine image and likeness. And to prevent His followers from stepping onto a false path, He often reminds them of how death and Hell await those who do.
The last thing the devil wants you to remember is that “the wages of sin is death”—eternal death. In this way, death is the enemy of the devil: those who remember that sin leads to death avoid sin. A very interesting scene in the opening song of Boogiepop and Others illustrates this idea pretty well. We see the Imaginator reach out her hand towards Minako, the vessel of Boogiepop, and the fingers grow into long tendrils. Then, Boogiepop herself appears, and the Imaginator vanishes as fast as the devil at the sight of a crucifix. How often has the thought of death and the consequences of sin kept weak and fallible human beings from sinning?
Padre Pio was once asked by a spiritual son of his about what the world most lacks, and this great saint and miracle worker lightly slapped his interlocutor’s cheek and said, “Fear of God.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Prov. 1:7). “Fear the Lord, all ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him,” (Psalm 33:10). Neglecting the topic of hell has done much harm to Christians in modern times. Perfect loves does cast out all fear (1 John 4:18), but the perfect are few and were once imperfect. Even St. Anthony the Great, who lived to be 105 years old with 87 of these in the monastic way of life, meditated on hell in order to dispel serious temptations. For most people, loving God without fear leads the presumption that they can sin as much as they want without consequences. That is the same lie the serpent told Eve, and those who don’t want to fall into the devil’s snares ought to remember death and sin not.
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