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Let’s Talk about Religion (and a Bit of Anime)!

vlcsnap-2015-06-03-22h06m39s23Oh boy, what am I getting into.

Okay, so as I mentioned in my last post, I recently watched NoragamiLike many other anime series aimed at teenagers, Noragami is an urban fantasy, one that imbues old myths and traditions (in this case, Shinto gods) with a sense of hipness and adventure. You can see this reflected in the character designs, music and aesthetics, but the overall plot invokes this theme as well. The protagonist is a stray god (or Kami) who strives not to be forgotten by humans, and the heroine is an ordinary high school girl who gradually comes to appreciate the Kami.

Once you dig past all the flashy battles and shonen shenanigans, Noragami boils down to a rather universal dilemma: In this (post)modern world, how do we humans find fulfillment? How do we tell right from wrong? Like Haibane Renmei, which I discussed not too long agoNoragami is about spirituality, but it isn’t necessarily about religion in the organised sense. Rather, it’s a work of pastiche. That’s why the world it depicts comes across as both familiar and strange, especially to Western eyes.

Other bloggers have dissected a great deal about Noragami through a Christian lens. Once again, I’ll point you to the good folks at Beneath the Tangles for various discussions and links. What I want to talk about in this post is the act of pastiche. How does pop culture (in this case, anime) reinterpret religious motifs? To what end?

Before I can discuss those questions in detail, we need to take a not-so-brief detour and talk about religion itself.

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The Anime Adaptations of Miyazawa Kenji: Night on the Galactic Railroad and Gauche the Cellist

night_on_the_galactic_railroad_1985

Today, I cover two of the most highly acclaimed anime adaptations of Miyazawa Kenji’s stories.

(If you want to know why you should care about Miyazawa Kenji, I covered the background and context in my last post.)

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