Day by Day Daily Cartoon by Chris Muir

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Anime Awesomeness and Badassery

I don't know how many people actually read this blog, and of those who do, who is actually into Japanese animation. But for those of you who are, you're likely aware that there are several genres of anime, just like its counterpart media manga. Now, in theory I should be into seinen manga and anime, since that is the age group I'm in, and will be for a while (adult man). But I guess my mental age has never really progressed much beyond shonen (young man). I do enjoy some seinen titles (and also, because seinen by definition includes the more 'ecchi' stuff, then yeah, that too), but for the most part my tastes lie in the shonen category.

Shonen manga and anime, catering as they do to the adolescent male crowd, are heavily action-oriented. Romance, rivalries and whatever else, you can imagine, are at the schoolkid level. Watch a couple of epidoes of Naruto and you'll get the picture.

Now, as Takahashi Rumiko has proven in InuYasha, Japanese culture, civilisation and mythology is exceedingly rich, and indeed, if one adds in the Chinese component as well (which she did), you can come up with an incredible storyline; one that fluidly blends both Middle Ages and Modern World without a hint of Western influence anywhere. Well, except in the technology, of course.

But it is a fact that many Japanese (and not just mangaka) are infatuated with Christianity - or more precisely, Christianity as it is commonly understood with regards to its superficial trappings. This is why many Japanese get married in churches in traditional Christian ceremonies wearing Christian wedding garb, and why Christmas is a MAJOR festival in Japan, and why in a country where 1% of its population are Christian, every other hentai or ecchi manga/anime features nuns and most normal anime have a church or two - complete with priest - somewhere in the storyline. And let's not talk about the weddings; I don't think I've seen a Japanese anime wedding where they actually wear Japanese clothes.

In some ways, this is a shame. One thing is, Japanese culture and tradition is quite rich in and of itself. I mean, you have the shrines, and the miko, and the Buddhist/Zen hermits and monks, and what not. The saddest thing to me, though, is that Japanese have not really used the sourcebook of Christianity as inspiration for their storylines, and this is truly a shame. Well, I've seen a manga depicting the life of Jesus, but that's hardly a genre in itself, and I think it should be.

Because, when you read the Bible, you notice that large chunks of it can be turned straight into a bizzaro-world shonen anime with absolutely no changes required. Mind you, most shonen anime is bizzaro-world. Gigantic freaking mecha fighting each other, ninja flying through forests and replicating themselves, katana-wielding shinigami unleashing ki-powered attacks in mid-air, aliens with power levels OVER NINE THOUSAND!!! - suffice it to say, there's not that many shonen titles out there that are focused on 'slice of life' where life is pretty ordinary and drama-free.

But right from the start, the Bible gives mangaka a run for their money - not to mention their imagination. In Genesis 3, when Kami-sama (God) chases Adam and Eve out of the garden, He places angels with HUGE FREAKING FLAMING SWORDS to guard against anyone trying to return. Won't you like to see what a KyoAni team could do with the Tower of Babel, which pierces the heavens? How about Lot fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah? Lava rising from the ground and several meteors hitting the city setting everything on fire. Yu-Gi-Oh! had the Namonaki Pharaoh (Aten); heck, I'd pay real money to see the Ten Plagues hit Egypt. And the part after that, when 300+ people got swallowed by the ground? Oh yeah!

That's just the first two books. You want to get a truly awesome, badass, what-do-you-mean-it-wasn't-made-on-drugs storyline? Just animate the Revelation to John without changing it in any way. Some choice scenes;

2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was[a] like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns[b] of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.[c] Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the[d] seven Spirits of God.
6 Before the throne there was[e] a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

      “ Holy, holy, holy,[f]
      Lord God Almighty,
      Who was and is and is to come!”

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
       11 “ You are worthy, O Lord,[g]
      To receive glory and honor and power;
      For You created all things,
      And by Your will they exist[h] and were created.”
(Rev 4, NKJV)

12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold,[e] there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon[f] became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders,[g] the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

(Rev 6, NKJV)

The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon

 1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Satan Thrown Out of Heaven
7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them[a] in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

The Woman Persecuted
13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.[b]

(Rev 12, NKJV)

Man, that last scene? Tengen Toppa Gurrenn Lagann has nothing on that!

You want to do something ecchi or hentai? The Bible offers plenty of scope for that (of course, you'll have to expand it as the Bible does not often go into too much detail of how things worked out). For example, there's Lot and his daughters after they got him good and drunk. Then there's David and Bathsheba. And Jacob who was tricked into having Leah before Rachel (which is itself a funny as well as ecchi scene). Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. And the one book in the Bible that goes into mega-detailed expansions of love scenes, the Songs of Solomon.

Yes, all in all, if you anime writers want to have ready-made material for a really good series, the Bible is a fairly good place to start.

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