Though the series Sonny Boy, which tracks a group of Japanese students who are given superpowers and find themselves transported to alternate universes, has been playing with the idea of salvation since early in the series, episode five more directly alludes to that idea as it crosses into religion. From any perspective, the new angle is compelling, but especially so when seen through a Christian lens.
To be clear, there doesn’t seem to an intentional Christ figure in this world. The unsure, awkward Nagara isn’t the picture of the bold, God-man Christ, though he, too, may hold salvation for their world. However, the opposition to Nagara is reminiscent of a individual from scripture, and even two.
Asakaze, whose power, “Slow Light,” allows him to manipulate space, has been loosely aligned with Nagara and the working group that uses their abilities to try to find passage home. But he doesn’t like Nagara, and seems quite envious of the attention that he’s receiving, perhaps both because that attention comes from a pair of beautiful girls and because Nagara’s power is getting more attention than his own, although he sees that boy as beneath him.
He becomes easy bait, then, for the suddenly appearing Aki-sensei, who uses sweet words and her sexuality to draw him near, explaining that his power will evolve and come to be important.
It’s a most unusual proposition, since Aki has already explained that there is no salvation. She is deceiving Asakaze, who may be thinking that he can save the others when she apparently has no desire to do that. Her deception, and then later in the episode propping up of Asakaze as she makes use of the increasing disgruntlement of the students, allows her to move forward with her agenda, one whose details we don’t yet know.
Asakaze is an compelling character. At the beginning, he uses his power for juvenile destruction before we as the audience gain sympathy for him after he’s apparently beaten to death. But the rules of the world don’t allow him to die, and he soon latches on to the “good guys,” and so our opinion begins to change. But then his character reveals itself all the more through his lack of patience, envy, and judgment, and he turns on the group that’s the only one trying to help everyone.
Asakaze becomes a Judas.
Much like Iscariot, Asakaze betrays the “savior,” Nagara. A mound of books has been written about why Judas betrayed Jesus, though greed and perhaps jealousy seem to be at the core. The same can be said here.
In addition is the reason we all fall—our own pride. Asakaze is tempted by the sweet words of Aki, which feed into his own innate longing to be a savior. He reveals to her that he actually sees himself as nothing special, but is brought over into “sin” when she makes him feel more important than those around him. I believe that Asakaze now thinks that he can be the savior. He can get all the glory. And as the episode ends, he does.
But while Judas is used by Satan to lead Jesus down the road toward execution, Aki-sensei seemingly has something else in mind. She is using him further as some sort of symbol, which brings to mind the Book of Revelation and how the Dragon uses The Beast and then a second Beast to attack God’s people and lead others astray. This is already happening here, in a sense, as Aki-sensei, “the Dragon,” props Asakaze, “the Beast,” up as a way to turn the people against Nagara and the others and lead them to what looks like their own destruction for her own gain.
The scene unfolds in a way that reminds me of some of the fearsome images of Revelation which have haunted so many. They’ve haunted me, too, and especially when I was younger and more impressionable. I was frightened to death when I would hear proclamations that we werere in the last days.
In Sonny Boy, there is a bit of that apocalyptic feel going on in a world that approaches that of Lord of the Flies, and in which worship of those with superhuman power is quickly and powerfully leading so many away from truth and perhaps toward extreme violence.
Thankfully, there is hope. The team of Nagara, Nozomi, Mizuho, and Rajdhani (and maybe Cap, too) represent goodness, a group attempting to put away their bitterness, anger, and selfishness to do what’s right. And as the rest of the students, minus the student council (who are doing their own thing, it seems, without regard to the others, quickly turning into a cult), this group represents something holy, even in their flaws, perhaps represented by a conversation between two of the members.
Mizuho, sitting with Rajdhani in his workroom, sees an image he’s set up of Buddha, and asks if he believes in God. Rajdhani responds, “Oh, it’s not so much about God, but I do have faith,” indicating some supernatural belief and a hope for something more.
Meanwhile, Mizuho may be the opposite—she doesn’t seem the hopeful type, but it’s inferred that she can’t help but at least believe—after all, she says that God has spoken to her.
The voice of God, the idea of faith, and the battle between good and evil is now becoming pronounced in this series as religion takes center stage. And again, though Nagara can hardly been seen as a representation of a Christian savior, Christians can put themselves in the shoes of his group, of those that have different talents and gifts, struggle with different sins, but still have hope and in some cases, more—faith and belief—as they come together for a good and common purpose.
And much like Revelation, or if you would like, Stephen King’s The Stand, a standoff of religious significance and, with the powers of those involved, biblical proportions that may determine the outcome of a world (if not several), is on the horizon. The characters are all lined up, as they are in scripture—it’s now just left to see if this tale will follow a good savior’s victory over evil, or if it should go down some other path completely.
Sonny Boy can be streamed on Funimation.