Monthly Archives: April 2011

Puella Magi Madoka Magica 07: From Adam to Jesus

As I try to find the time to marathon Puella Magi Madoka Magica in an attempt to avoid any more spoilers, I had to stop to write about episode seven, in which allusions to and mentions of Christianity are far stronger than in any other episode to this point of the series.   Though a few bloggers briefly mentioned the issue, I didn’t read anything in-depth (please let me know if I missed someone’s analysis), so I thought I’d have something to add.

Sayaka Madoka Magica

Pixiv Artist さえき北都

Early in the episode, Sayaka and Kyoko, whose personality and background get far more fleshed out in this episode, discuss the idea of the pact that the girls agree to.  They exchange their souls for a miracle.  What’s interesting is that this is very much like Christianity, but in a warped way.  While Sayaka is pained by and later begins to regret her decision, feeling she’s given up her soul for a miracle (and a relatively trivial one at that), Christianity emphasizes that we give our lives to Jesus when we receive the miracle of eternal salvation.  The ideas are similar, though the feelings associated with the transfers are drastically different.

Now, for the meat of the symbolism.  Kyoko leads Sayaka to a church and begins the temptation.  A church is typically used as a moody setting for a scene (episode 5 of Cowboy Bebop comes to mind), but as should be expected of this high quality show, it becomes much more than that.  It also emphasizes the fact that spiritual issues are also at hand. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Madoka Madness

Oh, Madoka Magica – the explosion of posts on your final episodes is nothing short of prolific.  And with the religious overtones of the conclusion, I was particularly intrigued.  Never has a search for “Jesus” in my blog reader brought up so many posts which didn’t use the name in an exclamatory and not-so-hallow way.

Here are a sample of the blogs that particularly focused on the religious symbolism in the series finale:

Over at Drastic My Anime Blog, dm00 goes William Blake on us, setting the Romantic poet’s poem, “The Little Vagabond,” to images of Kyoko.  The post works very nicely, emphasizing Kyoko’s church background with a famous poem that has some fun poking at the church and Christianity.

Catchercatch gives a wonderful review of the show (including a breakdown of the characters’ endings) and mentions the parallels between Madoka and Christ, as does the Star Crossed Anime Blog.   Yumeka, likewise, draws the parallel, writing, “Madoka is a Jesus figure, Homura is her prophet, and Kyubey is the tempting Devil (the final episode aired on Good Friday too).”  Leenina adds, “Madoka just died for our sins, guys,” but says we shouldn’t go overboard on the ending, and Arc writes, “SHAFT is one sneaky studio releasing this episode on Good Friday, maybe as a coincidence or on purpose, as Madoka’s sacrifice is almost the same as Christ giving up his life for us( sorry if i sound evangelical), but this way it makes the episode even better.”  Myssa isn’t sure it was intentional, but she saw the allusion as well, as did Tsuki.

Christianity is not the only faith expressed in Madoka Magica – it may not even be the one that shows us strongest.  Chikorita157 and Aorii mention that there are both Christian and Buddhist overtones in the finale, with Yi doing a masterful job of outlining the the series in terms of Buddhist principles and ideas.  DrSenbei also emphasizes the Buddhist philosophies in the show, particularly karma.  Likewise, Omo feels that there might be better allusions for the ending than a Christ story.

On a lighter note, I would be remiss to skip out on discussing a newer religion.  The church of Madoka idea has spread like wildfire, with Kurogane even supplying a FAQMisterowl is certainly on-board with the tongue-in-cheek faith.  Otakurean, finally back to blogging (yay!), has spent her time delving into the church of Madoka, even providing basic estimates as to its size, in addition to connecting it with Haruhism.  Speaking of Haruhism, Kuro fears a holy war is about to begin. -_-’

Aniblogger Testimony: I believe in ghosts, Buddhism, and science

This is the sixth in a series of Aniblogger Testimony posts, where select writers will discuss their personal faith.  Today’s post is by Canne of Canne’s anime review blog.  The previous posts in this series were written by Lauren Orisini, R86, Nikko, Arianna, and Ed Sizemore.

First of all, I would like to express my feeling of admiration towards my friend, Charles, for creating this amazing project. It made me realized how influential my faith was to my entire life. This is something I usually overlook and would never have written about on my own.

I am not a Christian or Muslim. I live in South East Asia and I am officially a Buddhist. But the actual nature of my belief is more complex and ambiguous than that. I am a hybrid of Buddhist and ghost worshipper. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Samson, InuYasha, and Wearin’ Hair

Niko Sylvester wrote an interesting article for Mania.com this week about “hair shirts and legendary” pelts in anime and manga.  He focuses on two pieces in particular – GeGeGe no Kitar and InuYasha.  The post isn’t particularly focuses on religion, but Niko does mention myths and folklore, and begins his piece with the story of Samson (while also mentioning the Bibilical leviathan).  Niko’s an expert on this topic – I recommend you give it a read!

Hair Shirts and Legendary Pelts

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai Episode 02: Be Who You Want to Be

Adolescence is a confusing time for many.  A lot of us tried to “find ourselves” during these years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and often without even realizing what we were doing.  Often, becoming a unique self draws sneers, criticism, and bullying, particularly in the unkind halls of middle schools and high schools.  The easier thing to do is to follow the crowd, even if it means becoming something that isn’t true to ourselves.

But…is it bad to try to be like someone else?

In episode 2 of AnoHana (by the way, the complete title of this series is beautiful – Wikipedia translates it as We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day), Tsuruko, one of the six childhood friends, berates another of the former clan mates, Anaru, for trying to be like everyone else, particularly like Menma.  Anaru, for her part, admits to herself that she did want to be like her old friend – seemingly out of both jealousy and admiration.

Anaru AnoHana

Pixiv Artist 奇仙(きせん)

Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in Miyazaki’s Films: An Interview with Jolyon Thomas

My writing on anime and Christianity is largely reflective and personal.  However, there are a number of individuals in academia who have written extensively on anime and religion.  One such scholar is Jolyon Baraka Thomas, who graciously agreed to an interview with me.  I discovered his writings through an excellent article he wrote about Hayao Miyazaki and religion.  Below is a short bio from his site.

Jolyon Baraka Thomas is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion at Princeton University. His research focuses on Japanese religions in the modern period, with particular interest in religion and media and the relationships between religion, law, and the state. Thomas has published articles and book chapters on religious aspects of the culture surrounding manga and anime, and his first book on the subject is forthcoming. His developing doctoral dissertation examines the implementation of the concept of religious freedom in Japan during the first half of the twentieth century.

JBT: First off, thanks very much for your interest in my work. I hope that you and your readers/contributors find my answers helpful. I included some links in my answers; please note that I put the family names of Japanese people other than Miyazaki in small caps just to be clear about the name order. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Easter Sunday at Anime Boston

This past weekend, Anime Boston fell on Easter, as it has a number of times in the past.  So, what’s a Christian otaku to do?  Attend mass nearby, of course.

Otaku Journalist’s Lauren Rae Orsini wrote a wonderful post for the Anime Boston blog about the con and Easter Sunday.  Her interview with two con-goers who attended Easter mass was enlightening, and brought up the interesting idea of going to church in…cosplay.  Really, it’s an important topic – is the church quick to dismiss based on one’s outside appearance.  An awesome Casting Crowns song called “If We Are the Body” asks a similar question as it exposes Christian hypocrisy.

Lauren also discusses some potentially controversial wording and imagery at the con.  There’s definitely a schism between what Christians find holy and untouchable and what most others would consider “fair game.”  Unfortunately, I think this difference is what often leads to anger, misunderstandings, and an even larger divided between Christians and non-believers.

Please visit the Anime Boston blog and give Lauren’s post a read!

Easter Sunday at Anime Boston

It Is Finished

The recent Jesus anime, “My Last Day,” has gathered a buzz because of its unrelenting violence and high quality.  It follows Jesus’ final days as seen through the eyes of one of the thieves crucified next to Him on the cross.  Just before Jesus dies, he utters his final words: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

There are seven sayings of Jesus on the cross – at least one other is shown in the video, when Jesus addresses the thief.  But I want to focus on the one He said just before His final words: “It is finished.”

Today, on Easter Sunday, I hope you’ll reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection.  When Jesus said “it is finished,” his words were full of meaning.  Not only was his physical life over, but his ministry was also complete.  Jesus accomplished what He set out to do – everything changed.

Because of Jesus, we no longer had to do the impossible – achieve holiness – to be able to stand before a holy God.  It is Christ in us that frees us from the darkness in our hearts.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are covered – we are holy, if we accept what He did for us and turn to Him.

He did what we could not.

It is finished.

Have a wonderful Easter, and please leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Invisible God in…Trigun

Vash and Wolfwood

A dangerous pair...

Characters: Vash the Stampede and Nicholas D. Wolfwood
Series: Trigun
Gender: male
Occupation: wanted gunslinger and faux priest/assassin
Bible Twins: Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter

Overview
On Tuesday, I linked a post to an article entitled “The Gospel According to Wolfwood.”  The author of that original piece makes several comparisons between Wolfwood and Bible characters, and I’m expanding on one of her allusions – to Simon Peter, in relation to Vash/Jesus Christ.

In the Trigun anime, Nicholas D. Wolfwood first appears as a traveling priest who is raising money for orphans.  But we soon find out that’s he more than he seems as the literal cross he carries becomes a devastating weapon called a Punisher.  Wolfwood is a sure shot and a dangerous man, unafraid to kill when the situation calls for it. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Violence, Grace and Redemption in Trigun

In 2003, a wonderful essay about Nicholas Wolfwood was posted in the ToonZone forums.  Academic in nature, the essay discusses the Christian themes of sinful nature and grace as they are present in Trigun, particularly shown through Wolfwood.  The essay is excellent and gives a lot of insight about the series.  It also touches on the idea of why Christianity hasn’t stuck in Japan, mentioning Shunsaku Endo’s Silence, which also focuses on this theme.

Unfortunately, since that time, every other trace of the essay on the Internet has apparently disappeared.  You’ve probably experienced this as well as me – you’ve tried to return to something you read or saw once in the past only to find that it’s gone.  Poof.  And so, I’ve decided to repost the entire essay below.  If anyone knows the author or where the original source comes from, please let me know.

Nicholas D. Wolfwood
Violence, Grace and Redemption in Trigun.

Introduction

This article is an analysis of Nicholas D. Wolfwood from a Christian perspective. It will make most sense if you’ve seen the entire Trigun anime series. Also, it contains serious spoilers for the series. Consider yourself warned. Japanese animation (or anime, as it is called both in Japan and in the West) is an intriguing contemporary art form that, like Japanese culture itself, weaves Western influences and Eastern traditions together in oftentimes strange and unexpected ways. Through its juxtaposition of contrasting cultural elements, anime can provide careful viewers with illuminating insight into both Japanese and American culture. And when anime touches upon religious issues, it offers Christians trans-cultural perspective on their faith. Read the rest of this entry