Narrative Reflections: Biblical references in Anime – how far can they go?

Note: This was originally posted in Narrative Reflections as a blog post for an undergraduate honours module, Narrative Structures.

As an avid watcher of Animes, I have came across several animes that made use of biblical references or religious reference. While some are relatively harmless, others are can be viewed as rather sacrilegious. While I’m neither Christian nor particularly religious, I’m rather appalled at how such terms are used and wonder how and why people can accept this.

For example, in the anime D Grayman, the Noahs are a family that aims to destroy human by bringing the dead back to live into human-eating monsters or akumas as they are called. This is definitely different from how Noah is perceived in biblical texts! Another example is in the anime, Trinity Blood, where the pope not only has children, but his children can inherit his title!

I find it interesting as to why people would complain about such abuse in live action films but not in animations such as these, and suspect that in animation, people are more willing to suspend their notions of what is sacrilegious since animations are less likely to be viewed as mimetic of real life. On the other hand, live action films or dramas, even if they are fantastic narratives, still have a certain degree of realism to it such that viewers are more critical of them.

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One thought on “Narrative Reflections: Biblical references in Anime – how far can they go?

  1. It’s an interesting notion, but we also have to consider the idea that the primary audience (The Japanese) is not as invested in Christianity, its meanings and symbols as we are in the west. The Japanese are just as likely to “spoof” western tropes and stereotypes (Christianity in this case) as we are Eastern Stereotypes in western media. Very little anime which places christian ideas and symbols in a negative light to criticize the actual religion. One anime film which does however, is the 1985 film Angel’s Egg which represents the director’s (Mamoru Oshii) falling out with Catholicism. It’s an interesting film nonetheless.

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