Okay weeboos, let’s do this.
If you’re not into anime, stick around, this should still be interesting.
You know the famous (and depressing) philosopher Nietzsche? The guy who reputedly said “God is Dead.” Or, that God never existed and the idea of Him is what is in fact dead.
I am starting to think almost every single writer in Japan is with Nietzsche on this one.
Since I got into anime about a year or two maybe ago, I’ve seen maybe 20, not nearly as many as die hard fans, but a fair amount, and I’ve heard the plot of other ones from reviewers and my sisters.
And I started noticing a really weird common thread in Shonen or sometimes Isekai anime.
Shonen anime is basically superhero/special power adventure type shows.
Isekai is AU, or other world based shows, where the premise usually starts with an ordinary guy or girl somehow being transported to another world, sometimes through reincarnation, sometimes a summoning, etc.
There’s a few anime that are kind of a combination of genres that also would fit what I’m about to describe.
Nearly every anime of this sort that I’ve seen ends in, or has some plot at some point, that involves defeating a character that is said to be either a god, or basically the equivalent of a god, or maybe even The God.
The character is typically a villain, of course, and usually cruel and power mad and ready to wipe out or enslave the human race.
An then the protagonist will either use paragon powers, or the power of friendship to do what everyone swore was impossible for the whole show, and kill this god character.
If you think I’m wrong…well…
Naruto, easily one of the most popular anime of all time, ends (SPOILER ALERT) with Naruto and his team effectively killing or defeating at least, a god and…maybe another god? It was unclear (honestly most of the fans agree it was bizarre).
Fairy Tail, another really popular and really lengthy anime, also ends with a character who had basically become a god (or was cursed by the gods) being killed. Two characters, actually. Along with a host of other very powerful, god like people. There were even “godslayers” in the show.
I recently started Katana Maidens, it ended the first half with defeating an evil goddess.
What’s funny is if the show doesn’t kill the god, they end up subduing it to the hero’es side. Like, the heroes will still beat it, it’ll just become their friend then.
Examples include Dragon Ball when it got to Beerus (weird but funny)
Probably Fruits Basket, so far it hasn’t concluded.
Freaking Boruto advertised the killing god ending in the first episode
Full Metal Alchemist, from what I hear.
Not to mention a crap ton of video games made in Japan also have you fight gods or fate, and defeat it.
Speaking of Fate, if we counted the amount of anime that have people declaring they’ll change or resist Fate, we could count a lot of Rom Com or slice of life or sci-fi anime also.
And it’s starting to trickle into American Media influenced by anime.
NetFlix’es She-Ra ends with a character who claimed to be like God dying.
The freaking Guardians of the Galaxy kill a god in their 2nd movie. Thanos gets killed in Endgame.
But those examples are a bit more shaky, Anime is what has the gods actually have followers, and a lot of power and they are almost always evil, or else stupid or lazy like Konosuba’s (I suppose that beats evil.)
Personally, I prefer anime that just stay off the subject, because once they introduce a god, the show always gets much, much darker.
Oh, yeah, that new BNA Netflix show also has a god battle in the end… I guess I won’t spoil what happens (I think the show really wasn’t that good but some people like it.)
I’m sure a hardcore weeaboo could name a bunch of stuff I’ve missed too. But I think you get the idea.
What the heck is with this trope? No one ever talks about it, but it’s everywhere.
And if we extend it to how many anime have a weird Catholic-garbed religious sect as the evil villains in at least one arc, then pretty much every shonen and isekai would now be on the list.
As a Christian, I find it pretty creepy when elements related to my religion are turned into some weird cult thing on a show. I hear that most people in Japan don’t even know much about the Church, they just think the outfits look cool, and the symbolism. Ever wonder why so many anime villains wear crosses? Yeah… I don’t get it.
Personally, I really think the writers could bother to look it up before using it, a lot of Christians watch this stuff. Why be insensitive?
Not that Christianity being villainized is anything to be surprised at.
As I noticed this trope, I began to wonder why it was so prevalent. My sister told me that in a video about Christianity in Japan, people admitted that it was rare, and that people there are often afraid of religion. They might acknowledge Buddhism a little, but they don’t have deep beliefs in it.
Kind of how many people treat yoga and other Eastern teachings and practices. Like a buffet you can pick and choose from.
I think that it’s interesting that anime comes from a culture of not very serious religion, and it itself often treats God as the problem, an obstacle in the way of harmony, peace, and our own human happiness.
It makes me kind of sad actually. God is so different to me.
Many people, even Christians, think of God as distant, angry, or cruel. Unwilling to help us. Thwarting our plans, etc.
God does do that.
But I don’t think most people stay away from God because they think He’s cruel.
I don’t think, at the heart of anime and possible Japan, if one could know that from its media, is truly the fear of a cruel God.
What the real fear seems to be is of the all consuming nature of God.
We, in general, are okay with dipping our toes into religion. Maybe trying church once in a while, maybe reading a little about it, maybe praying to God, maybe not any specific god.
Even Christians live distant from God. Many religions teach that God or the gods are distant on purpose, only a few enlightened people can get close to them, only a few should. The rest of us should just live ordinary, good lives.
Generally, only the best and brightest of us humans can approach the gods. See Greek Mythology, Egyptian Mythology, any mythology…
Christianity shocks people, and scares them, by bringing God too close. It slaps you in the face with it, and pins you down till you squirm.
We’re told that God searches the hearts of men.
David even prays for God to strike his enemies in the face, a very personal kind of blow compared to just “smite them”.
And the story of the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when they begged Moses to go speak to God for them, and they wouldn’t themselves, they were afraid they would die.
God’s might and power and holiness are what scare us the most about Him.
In my own life, I grew up knowing God was good, but the sheer greatness of Him frightened me. I thought God would control me in a way I would hate, and I could never escape it, so I hid from Him. (Sounds like an anime to me.)
Later I found out God doesn’t force us to do things in that way. Not when it comes to accepting Him.
God can be puzzling to people. Eastern religion tries to reconcile the good and evil in the world by saying there must be an equal amount for balance.
The God of the Bible can seem like a collection of contradictions. He is Just, He is Merciful. He is a still small voice, he is in a whirlwind. The list goes on. But always, He is Good.
It’s overwhelming all right.
I understand fearing God. But I don’t know how anyone could believe God was defeatable.
The arrogance of anime is astounding. Especially since it comes with a lot of very wimpy messages.
They go to great lengths to kill the god characters…and ironically, they kill their own moral standing.
If you think about it, if God is real, or the gods are real, and they are in control of the world…then if you kill them, you’ve kind of doomed us all.
I find many endings to promising animes unsatisfying. They can’t commit to a message. Naruto most infuriatingly ended the show still never answering Pain’s excellent question about how he intended to heal the world.
I think the writers must know deep down it’d be ludicrous to say one human could do all that, but they have cut off their only viable option, a Divine Being… so they are forced to just leave the question open ended.
Think about how many anime end with “basically everything went on the same way it always had” That’s not an ending. That’s… stalling.
Characters usually talk like this “I think maybe this…” or “I have hope that somehow…” Like, they never know anything. They never have logic, or an argument, or proof. Just blind hope in… nothing. They hope for hope’s sake.
It just doesn’t work for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy many shows, and I like the more pure characters and romances. Those can be done decently well.
But the moment any major statement about the world is made, it’s weak.
The reason is obvious. Without God, there is just no moral standard anyone can possible be made to conform to. Maybe you can just pick one out of thin air (I doubt it) but you have no right to complain if other people disagree with you. Meaning Unity is virtually impossible.
People complain about organized religion without realizing it is the only reason society can even exist. Religion decides morals, morals decide the justice system, and no society of 5 people, let alone 5 million, can survive without a justice system.
Without God, what gives our lives meaning? There’s a sadly high suicide rate in Asia, Japan is no exception.
A lot of anime try to encourage kids not to kill themselves over failed work or grades or goals, to keep trying.
As if trying ever cured depression.
I appreciate the effort, but it’s hopeless. It’ll never work.
The ones that say love is the reason to hang in there are much closer to the truth.
I’ve mentioned that I deal with depression, sometimes suicidal thoughts. Though, I more of mean, I wonder why I don’t give up. I wonder what keeps me going. When so many people take that way out, what gives me any reason to believe I won’t or can’t?
It’s weird, but my dad often got depressed over work and feeling useless, so anime can be very familiar to me. And it make me sad the same way my dad would make me sad. It causes me to wonder, what will my answer be to the same failures and disappointments? Will it be his, or will I have a better one.
Slowly, God is helping me answer that question.
The more I learn, the less I think the “Try harder” message will work.
And the less the “killing God” message seems like anything but emotional suicide to me.
I know I can’t assume Japanese people really think that way.
But, if they did, I would feel very sorry for them. It’s all about being strong enough yourself to face life, not needing anyone, not needing help. Definitely not needing God.
(The implied message often is, no one will be there to help you anyway.)
But what other foundation could someone find their worth in? God made you, God put you here for a reason.
In the end, trying to protect yourself from God is like trying not to breathe. It’s the very thing you need to live, and you can’t get away from it.
God can be like water. Try to block him out and the pressure will build up until something explodes. But accept Him, and it’s like going into a pool. At first it’s a shock, but then it’s a relief.
Anyway, that’s enough for now, maybe I’ll explore this more in the future. Until then, stay honest–Natasha.