As a Lutheran, I find it very interesting how the Christian faith is represented in various forms of media. This is the first part in a series that I plan to continue where I plan to go over how different types of media utilize the world of Christianity. The first stop on this journey will be anime. I am a big time fan of anime, but some of the things that I have seen over the years have bothered me. Not everything is bad, but most of it is odd to say the least. The first thing that you need to know when dealing with Christianity in anime is that Catholicism is the religion of choice. Why is that? Well, it is a very prominent branch of Christianity and Japan seems to really like putting nuns into their stories. I guess you could call this “Nuns in Anime” if you wanted to be more accurate regarding the content of this article. They show up in a lot of series, but there are three things that always come with religion in anime. Violence, corruption, and sexual situations are sure to be present in a series that boasts the Christian faith. Although two of those make sense, that last one needs to stop. I apologize in advance for not including some of the obvious series in this article. I never finished Trinity Blood. Oh well, let’s go over things with some examples from specific series.
I know that people will talk about Christianity being a religion that is all about helping others and having tolerance in a world of temptation, but that doesn’t cover the whole story. Yes, those are part of the religion, but this is the group that brought us the crusades. Practices such as “running your blade through the womb of the unborn child” in order to prevent the possibility of revenge in the future were a part of the Christian armies. Saying that violence is not present in the history of the religion is ignorant. That is why this is something that I enjoy when it comes to Christianity in anime. Sister from Arakawa Under the Bridge is a fun example because he does a great job as a sister. He provides spiritual guidance and protects the people around him. I know he is a guy, but it is an odd series. Also, anyone that has gone to Catholic school will tell you that nuns can be as violent as anyone.
To Aru Majutsu no Index:
Just a heads up, To Aru Majutsu no Index will be used as an example in every section because of the prominence of religion and the fact that I just finished watching both seasons of the series. The magic side of this series should basically be called the religious side of things. What we have going on here is a balance of power between science and religion that is constantly on the brink of war. Well, the Roman Catholic Church is after conflict. They boast many warriors. Some may be male, but let’s be honest here, there are going to be nuns. One of the arcs in the second season has three different sects of Christianity fighting over a nun that has the ability to decipher an ancient grimoire . Although the Amakusa and English Purist Churches boast members of both genders, the Roman Catholic Church brought a small army of warrior nuns with them. Nuns with magical weapons that were not afraid to kill in order to secure their target. The mix of religion and magic in this series is pretty interesting and the warrior nuns do provide for some cool fights. There is a lot going on in this series, but Duc remembers the second season as the anime where a lot of nuns get punched in the face.
This is a newer series that has an interesting link to the Church. Humanity had to fight against the demons and the church had to train the Hero to fight against the Demon Lord. Emi is a half-angel and Suzuno is a member of the Inquisition. Emi, trained by the church, uses her holy powers in the war and her fight against Maou. Suzuno uses her skills to take out the enemies of the church even if they are humans. This isn’t even an action series, but there is a lot of violence and death going on in the background of things. That shows the importance of pairing Christianity up with violence. A comedic series has to throw in stuff like war and the Inquisition. Although, using the Inquisition and whatnot is pretty accurate, so that is an enjoyable depiction of the religion.
Let’s be honest here. Every organization, especially the powerful ones, are riddled with corruption. Assassin’s Creed is based on some real stuff. The Catholic Church used the Templars to handle their dirty work and the concept of religion itself has brought about a lot of corruption. You don’t even have to go as far as cults to find it. There are too many child molestation cases associated with the church. Sure, it actually isn’t a lot when you look at how large the organization is itself, but it only takes one person to bring judgement your way. Why am I fine with the corruption of Christianity, both factual and fictional, being a part of anime? Well, it normally makes for a good story. The corrupt and violent Christian concepts normally go hand-in-hand and the plot is usually pretty nice because of it. Hataraku Maou-sama!’s plot is basically the struggle between the humans that follow the church and those that don’t as they fight for the right to claim victory over the demons. Assassination attempts and improper use of the Inquisition run rampant as human lives are sacrificed due to the prolonged state of things. Well, let’s get to Index again.
To Aru Majutsu no Index:
Well, violence rarely shows up without corruption backing it. It isn’t just the Catholic Church that boasts corruption in this series. It seems like every Church besides the Amakusa one has some sort of evil scheme planned. Is that a little racist? Maybe, but I will save that for a different kind of article. The Roman Catholic Church spent the entirety of the second season trying to destroy Academy City and rid the world of its scientific hub. They are willing to sacrifice countless lives regardless of their innocence. Obviously, that doesn’t really follow the teachings of the Lord, so that is where the corruption lies. People have power that lets them get past the Pope himself in this series and that is just wrong. Also, the English Purist Church doesn’t have clean hands. The main character allies himself with them without knowing about how their Archbishop has manipulated the Amakusa Church and is attack the Roman Catholic Church. Children are taken in off of the streets and forced to fight in wars that need not exist. Pretty corrupt if you ask me.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha:
This is another series with a war that has questionable things going on in the background. The humans and demons are at war. Why is that? It is the only way for the two worlds to financially support themselves. Those familiar with the Great Depression in the United States should know that it only ended due to the production jobs created during World War II. The thing is, the church in this series is crushing any and all attempts to find a peaceful way to end this war. They label Maou a heretic for bringing financial stability to the southern nations. Also, they are secretly dealing with a faction of demons that are aiming to take over the demon world. War profiteering seems pretty corrupt to me.
Here is the common portrayal of the Christian faith that I have a problem with. I am not the biggest supporter of fan service as it is, but the sexy nun thing needs to stop. Nuns are the brides of Christ. They spend their lives helping people. They cover their bodies and they do not participate in sexual acts. Would I want to give up the many temptations of life? No, but that does not mean that you sexualize such religious figures. Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukuni is a series that I really like, but they are big time offenders in this regard. Not only is the most prominent nun, Maria, running around in a very short robe, but she is often vulgar and naked. Don’t even get me started on the fact that she is a child and shouldn’t be a part of any of this. Even though she is not a true nun, the clothing is bad enough. Let’s talk about her sister Kate. She runs around in similar clothing and she gets thrown into quite a few questionable situations with Kodaka. I will never understand the obsession with making every female character sexy regardless of who they are.
To Aru Majutsu no Index:
Why do you must have four nuns in their lingerie in one picture? You lose track of how many love interests Touma has in this series and, if you don’t count the MISAKA’s individually, then at least half of them are religious figures. You have loli nuns, curvy nuns, and the former Pope of the Amakusa Church as possible love interests that all end up being seen naked on multiple occasions in this series. The worst thing is the fact that they constantly talk about religion and, despite the corruption, a lot of it holds some ground in the real religion. The concept of helping complete strangers in need is a very important theme in this anime. That and punching nuns in the face. Let me just say that this picture would make me uncomfortable if none of them were nuns.
Konjiki no Gash Bell!!:
I basically picked this one because I didn’t want to double up on Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and I don’t remember a lot from what I watched of Trinity Blood. This series seemed like it was directed towards a younger audience, so we didn’t really get the naked nun thing that we got in the other series. Having said that, there was a lot of groping, odd breast references, and demons fighting to the death going on in this series. I don’t know what is supposed to be directed towards children in Japan. Well, if the nun getting groped wasn’t enough to make Christians uncomfortable, then the fact that she was the love interest for Kafka Sunbeam should get to some of you. I know it bothered me. Just stop the sexy nun thing please.
For the most part, I enjoy the way that Christianity is depicted in anime. I like hearing Christian history mixed into an anime story because it encompasses two things that I am fairly familiar with. I guess my love of To Aru Majutsu no Index is what really enticed me to start this series of articles. The corruption and violence that comes with the religious themes always catches my attention. Even the comedic way that they use Sister in Arakawa Under the Bridge is entertaining. I am really just against the sexy nun stuff. I don’t want to sound prudish, but it bothers me. I am against most fan service, but that is a personal opinion. I understand why it is there in most situations. It is just the fact that nuns are not meant to be sexy that I reject that specific form of fan service very strongly. It is tough seeing a symbol of purity being put into a romantic comedy. In closing, I think that Christianity is utilized very well in anime when it comes to furthering a story or making interesting action scenes. I honestly think that they do that better than a lot of western writers, but that may be a cultural thing. It would be tough to face the scrutiny of a western audience when playing around with a religion. However, I think that the creative license that Japan has taken in this regard is a good thing. Just keep your clothes on.