The Week in Anime Winter 2015 #1 — Catholics, Incest and Forehead Flickings

I think I’m only going to stick with three shows this season. Instead of doing a fourth series, I will do a weekly Week in Anime post. Except this time, you know, actually do it. At least that’s the idea. It will be Wednesday. So if I don’t do it on Wednesday please yell at me.

I’m going to play around a bit with the format. Instead of a one liner for a ton of series, I’ll try to limit it to a few series and at least write a paragraph or so about each.

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Maria the Virgin Witch: Check out the excellent discussion on iblessall’s post on the anti-Catholicism in Maria. I wrote a lengthy comment there proposing that Maria is more along the lines of the common “You could call it… God! Let’s kill it!” with Catholicism awkwardly transplanted on top rather than being expressly anti-Catholic in the Western sense. Also, how did that little girl who probably hasn’t even had her first communion yet smuggle the consecrated host out of church…

Yoru no Yatterman: I liked the (small) twist where the Yatter Country was made out to be the promised land flowing with milk and honey only for it to turn out to be exactly the same, plus with an army of killer robots out to get our heroes. Leopard’s childish plan to give the Yatterman a forehead flicking has already run into some difficulties… I wonder if there even is a Yatterman anymore. Also, that forehead flicking robot was hilarious.

I’ve seen some people saying that the serious parts and the jokes don’t meld together well. But I feel the opposite is true. Without the jokes it would be too bleak to enjoy (a la Death Parade) and without the serious parts it wouldn’t have act the impact it does. The best comedy is often bitter and raging at its core, and the best criticism is often told through jokes. See the book of Jonah.

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Gundam Reconguista G: This show makes no fucking sense. Now the two main characters are actually siblings? You’ve got to be shitting me. This is dumber than Gundam SEED. Although, I did like how the people from space are losing trust in the earthlings and accelerating plans for the Reconguista because the earthlings are treating war like a bunch of fun and games. So true. These people take war less seriously than children playing a game of tag…

13 thoughts on “The Week in Anime Winter 2015 #1 — Catholics, Incest and Forehead Flickings

  1. That blog on Maria looked like a place for a fair debate, but unfortunately it appears my dissenting post offended the author and was blocked. In case my take would interest someone, I’d like to share the part that I saved:

    “As said, it’s obvious a lot of the criticisms leveled against the church are also analogies for the old systems of buddhism in Japan, where buddhist estates became wealthy through tithing or even raise their own armies of followers. Which made the lords feel threatened, and is part of the reason christianity was later outlawed there.

    I find it silly you’ve taken this seriously. Did Spice and Wold also offend you? The catholic church there is also a self-serving behemoth that is the enemy of paganism and merchants (with its oppressive taxes to fund various crusades against pagan countries.) And I do think it’s wrong to say that an outsider looking at your religon cannot have valid observations, because he simply hasn’t drunk the same kool-aid you have. Even if he hasn’t read as much, as an outsider he has the potential to see things you’re so used to you take them for granted. If you’re a woodsman accustomed to living in a forest, here is an outsider (from a desert) who can actually still see the forest for the trees, and with the sense of marvel that is an essential ingredient to making fantasy.”

    1. You make a good point about outsider takes on themes and topics we take for granted, and anime featuring a vaguely Catholic, corrupt religious institution in a medieval setting really isn’t anything new. Personally, my experience with anime is that it is much more comfortable levying critiques about foreign (usually Western) issues and institutions than it is when it comes to confronting issues from Japan’s own past.

      With this in mind, Maria’s overt critique of Catholicism is a bit uncomfortable when one considers the torture and murder of Japanese Christians (mostly Catholics) when the shogunate suppressed the religion. Maria really isn’t saying anything new, it’s just a bit more loaded since it’s in an actual historical setting with an actual institution as opposed to the more standard fantasy realm.

    2. I suppose the first paragraph of your comment was fine, but I can see why the second paragraph would offend. Even so, you can tell he’s a very devout Catholic by the fact he defended his religion so heavily based on a simplified criticism that isn’t yet complete (we’ll have to see more episodes to see if there’s more to it), so even minor criticisms of his religion would offend. You’ll notice that much of the comments on that post are pretty supportive of his view, or if they aren’t, they’re more like Draggle’s which find a middle ground rather than taking an opposite view. It’s a shame because I’d really like to see how he’d respond to those with an opposite view because as an atheist myself, I found his post to provide a rather interesting take on something I didn’t think much of at first.

  2. That guy seems to be a devout Catholic believer, and Junketsu no Maria pisses him off because, according to that anime, the Christian God doesn’t really care about humans’ well being, He leaves them to do as they wish.

    As a liberal myself, I don’t see what’s wrong with this anime’s point of view.
    Because, if God really exists, he must have really abandoned us.
    Assuming that the miracle that Jesus performed is real, God have stopped showing His divine powers to humans for 2000 years. Something that He has been constantly doing, since the Genesis. I wonder why. πŸ™‚

    1. Well, I think iblessall is American, and it’s only recently that both Catholics and Jews were seen as outsiders here and widely misrepresented, ostracized and oppressed with similar arguments to what this anime is making. Imagine an anime about a greedy jew with a long nose carrying sacks of money and defecating on the cross while drinking the blood of christian babies. That’s kind of how iblessall reacts to this.

      Of course, as I pointed out, the context in Japan is a bit different than in America. But many Catholics were killed for their religion in Japan in the past. So I think you can understand where iblessall is coming from. The issue isn’t with the anime’s portrayal of God, it’s with its portrayal of Catholics.

  3. Deko-ping robot was a bigger shock for me than the whole “utopia citizens eating leaves” thing. It took me five full minutes to realize it was not simply the delusion of our sweet little main character. They should just use that robot to work the land or something…

    1. Hahaha yep that was definitely more surprising! I didn’t doubt it was real for an instant though given how that girl has been planning a good forehead flicking from the very beginning!

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