Guest Post: The Helix Fossil, Bird Jesus & the False Prophet: The Newfound Triviality of Christianity
Today’s article is from Tommy, a great friend of the blog and a long time aniblogger. He runs Anime Bowl, where he blogs about the latest episodes airing on Toonami, anime conventions, and Green Bay Packers football.
Only a few hours after America lapsed into the month of March, the worldwide phenomenon known as “Twitch Plays Pokémon” came to a conclusion, as the Aussies and whoever was left awake in the U.S. pushed Red past the Elite Four and Blue to a Pokémon League championship. After 16 days of democracy, anarchy and random button-mashing, the journey was complete1.
In case you’re not aware, “Twitch Plays Pokémon” was a “social experiment” conducted by an Australian who programmed a Game Boy emulation of Pokémon Red into the streaming service Twitch, making it so that anyone could type a command into the chat, and have the game respond to it. Thus “up” made the character go up, “Start” made the Start menu come up, and so on.
Of course, with the entire world able to play the game, chaos ensued. The main character Red would do bizarre things over and over again as tens of thousands of people (and bots) typed in commands. Progress in the game was made very slowly, if at all, because of the long list of commands coming through, not to mention the lag the video had with the chat. To tell the story of how the game was actually beaten would be far too long. This YouTube channel tells the story through video, while this Google document gives the facts in a different fashion.
But what made “Twitch Plays Pokémon” more than just a video game was its “religion” of sorts that its players created out of the events of the game. It began through the fact that Red kept on checking the Helix Fossil by mistake. This led to a joke that the Helix Fossil was a “god,” and the religious references spiraled out from there. Eventually it led to a full-blown narrative where nearly every major figure in Christianity was being referenced by the game players. Omanyte was “God,” Pidgeot was “Bird Jesus,” Zapdos was “Battery Jesus,” Gastly was the “Holy Spirit,” even Flareon was the “False Prophet.”
This isn’t a condemnation of those who came up with these ideas. Many of them were clever, and certainly quite a few of them brought quite a chuckle out of me (although of all the memes that “Twitch Plays Pokémon” produced, my favorite was the constant plea that “we need to beat Misty,” no matter how far in the game Red was).
The question I pose is quite different: has Christianity become this trivial in today’s society? We all remember how a small cartoon of Muhammad and a bomb caused such an uproar amongst Muslims, so much that even a book written all about the cartoon failed to include the actual cartoon itself, presumably due to the writer’s fear of backlash.
I will be blatantly honest. Kill la Kill is my least favorite anime to air in the past few years, and by quite a large margin as well. And yet, despite that, I continue to watch it. Blame its popularity, or blame my inability to drop a series (just ask Charles), but regardless of the “why,” I have been sticking through it. However, perhaps the underlying purpose of my watching this show despite it being what I consider to be an amalgam of mediocrity, has been to relate it to Anime Today. If that is so, then that purpose will be fulfilled today in this article.*
Normally, I would make some sort of statement claiming that I would do my best to stay unbiased and not to let my opinion of the show reflect my writing any further, but I think I’ve gone and jolly well proven that that is simply not going to be the case here. Regardless… I will do my best.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil.” Whether or not you actually believe that phrase, it is no question that society, or at least western society, both worships money while simultaneously reviling it in its idealism. Episode 15 of Kill la Kill attempts to do something rather interesting, or perhaps only interesting in comparison to what the rest of the series has had to offer thus far, and that is use that mindset as a framework for the combat skills of the newly-introduced character, Kaneo Takarada. Takarada, a ridiculously (and hilariously) wealthy and powerful figure in Osaka, centers all of his combat abilities around money. This ranges from literally using money as a physical weapon to using money in the more conventional sense as a bribery tool to cause others to do his bidding.
Speaking (or writing, rather) as someone who has both grown up an area of heavy Christian fundamentalism, and also currently resides in an area of Christian fundamentalism, I am absolutely no stranger to the distastes of the concept of witchcraft and magic. Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter, and Oujia boards were all equally condemned, though condemned in different contexts by different people.
The reason these topics have been brought to my mind, and consequently to paper, as of late comes in the form of the currently-airing series entitled, you guessed it, Witchcraft Works. Although it is still too early to tell what sort of quality the series will ultimately show itself to be, I have been constantly reminded of the “demonic” content that it includes that tends to drive Christians away from what is an otherwise entertaining romp in high school romance and fantasy. All of this culminates in this article today.
A prime goal of this blog is to encourage open discussion about faith, using anime as medium through we can ask questions, give answers, and promote knowledge and understanding. I’m thankful that our posts here recently had some role in encouraging Tommy of Anime Bowl to write an article about how Madoka is lacking as a Christ figure. And inspired by Tommy’s post, our old friend Alexander, who has contributed plenty to Beneath the Tangles by bring a very different viewpoint to user comments, guest posts, and cooperative posts, is beginning a week long series focusing solely on this idea: why Madoka is a better savior than Jesus.
Interesting topic, huh?
He’ll be posting daily this week. Please visit Ashita no Anime to read the first of his posts, and return throughout the week to comment on others:
Lady Saika discusses Haiyore! Nyarko-san in her examination of the elder God, Cthulu. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]
Tsunderin and MadameAce point out the Jesus allusion in a very critical review of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]
Guardian Enzo mentions a number of religious connects in episode four of Red Data Girl. [Lost in America]
The Medieval Otaku, frequently featured in this column, celebrated both his 100th post and one year blogging anniversarythis past week. Congratulations! [Medieval Otaku]
There were a number of reviews posted this week that contained ratings and other information directed at Christian viewers:
- Samurai Champloo [Lobster Quadrille]
- Gaiking-Legend of the Daikyu-Maru [Cacao, put down the shovel!]
- Demonbane [Cacao, put down the shovel!]
Also, a little something more to something more – I missed a couple of articles (and maybe a lot more) the last few weeks as I’ve started to learn the ins and outs of Feedly versus Google Reader. Here are a couple good ones I missed out on:
Our own Zeroe4 comments on his personal experience, specifically discussing how his own relationship with the Holy Spirit relates to his viewing of AnoHana and Jintan’s experiences. [Zeroe4]
Kokoro Hane tells how God motivated her through Bakuman to work on storyboards. [Kokoro no Uta]
As part of the Something More series of posts, each week Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.
Why are Christians compelled to worship God? Why do we believe in the face of scrutiny and increasing skepticism and ridicule?
The answer is in this day. It’s in Easter and in our belief and our hope that despite who we are and what we’ve done, there is forgiveness. There is hope, demonstrated through a sacrifice so deep, so costly, so pure, and so valuable, that we are moved heart and soul by a love that’s greater than anything else we’ll ever experience.
I hope that all you readers out there will find a church to attend today, even if you don’t usually attend. And if you are not Christian, I encourage you to step through the doors of a church and open yourself to the possibilities of Christ’s death and resurrection. Trust me, it won’t hurt you to go to a church service.
And if you need it, here’s further motivation, in the form of an anime:
Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!
I should never have given birth to you.
As quoted by Highway of Sushi Go Kart, this horribly hurtful phrase spoken to Haruka by her mom in episode one of Kotouro-san begins a spiral downward for the previously kind and bubbly girl. There are few things more hurtful than condemning words from a parent, and particularly an exclamation as full of venom as this.
Our words are painful, and as Manabe infers, those who say such things or act in such ways were probably rotten to begin with. Jesus states something similar:
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’
- Matthew 15:18 (NIV)
I’d like you, the readers, to use the comment area below as you’d like – as a confession, a discussion, a release, or in any other way. If willing, tell us a painful utterance you’ve muttered, or one directed toward you that’s been painful – whether from a parent or anyone else. Feel free to comment anonymously if it’s more comfortable.
And thank you for sharing!
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Revisiting Madoka on Easter, a Big O Savior, and the Case of Moses and Death Flags
Myssa celebrated Easter, in part, by rewatching the finale of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Her analysis of the finale includes discussion of Christian symbolism in the series, symbolism that doesn’t quite fit into the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and even some Gnostic symbolism. [Midnight Equinox]
A Day Without Me writes a wonderful piece about the religious symbolism and language in episode 3 of Big O II (and also in some earlier episodes) as she reexamines the series. [GAR GAR Stegosaurus]
Draggle’s thoughts on episode 14 of Fate/Zero include his comparison of a certain character’s demise to a deathbed conversion (that isn’t a conversion at all). [Draggle's Anime Blog]
In another post, Draggle discusses the idea of love while analyzing episode 25 of Mirai Nikki, and uses the words of Christ to support his belief that there’s no such thing as “soulmates.” [Draggle's Anime Blog]
Koji writes a surprisingly nice entry about his past, including a bit about how Evangelion affected his view of religion. [MASCHERA]
Omo writes that way before anime, Moses knew all about death flags. Yes, that Moses. [Skull Candies]
Kathryn Darden of the Nashville version of examiner.com posts an article about Iota Soul, an OEL manga about orphans and created by a Christian. It was featured at a booth at the MTAC anime convention. [examiner.com]
As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere series of posts, each week, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.
Recently, a commenter named Corey (aka Ashesreignited) joined the community here on Beneath the Tangles. Besides the various insights in his comments, he sent me an email and we soon began to discuss Naruto, a show ripe with themes and symbols that Christians would recognize. But besides R86’s wonderful commentary on Shikamaru, we’ve barely touched the show. Luckily, Corey volunteered to write a guest post on the series. It’s a long one, but if you like the series as I do, you’ll enjoy as Corey takes us down memory lane while addressing the themes of forgiveness and faithfulness.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
- I Corinthian 13:7 (NLT)
As the series opens, the villagers of Konoha are prejudiced against Naruto because he carries the Nine-Tail Fox within himself. Naruto isn’t told about the fox and becomes a kind of pariah. There is a sense of loneliness, a sense of being “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3 prophecy about Jesus, the Suffering Servant).
Sasuke suffers from loneliness too. His family and clan die at the hands of his older brother Itachi, leaving him an orphan. In a way, Team Seven becomes a kind of surrogate family for both Naruto and Sasuke, who fight each other like two brothers. While going through their training, they begin to respect each other. Though the surface tension is a competitive spirit, deep down they share one thing in common, their painful loneliness, which is the very basis for their friendship. Whereas Naruto’s loneliness leads him to relate better to others, Sasuke’s loneliness and his painful loss gives birth to revenge. His revenge, for a time, is restrained by his ninja training and his friendship with the other members of Team 7. However, an encounter with Itachi reignites his revenge.
After healing from a quick defeat at Itachi’s hands, Sasuke turns to the snake-man Orochimaru (who has so many parallels to Satan) for power to accomplish his revenge. Naruto tries to stop Sasuke from going to Orochimaru and thus a fight ensues.
I find so many parallels here in how we deal with those who have rejected us and have become our enemies, whether family or friends and the sense of betrayal. Read the rest of this entry