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Dark Paladin X



Joined: 20 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:39 pm Reply with quote
Okay, when it comes to religious symbols and references in anime, Buddhism and Shinto are the most common ones (apparently, it doesn't a rocket scientist figure this out). However, when it comes to non-Buddhist/non-Shinto religious references, it seems that out of the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam), it seems that Christianity seems to stand out more than the other two Abrahamic religions. Case in point, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Chrono Crusade used heavy Christian symbolism and references (although the earlier uses some Jewish references as well). Of course, that doesn't mean Neon Genesis Evangelion is a Christian-friendly anime, as the artists may throw in Christian symbolism with little to no understanding of their actual meaning ( spoiler[like Kaori being a Christian from To Aru Majutsu no Index, which probably have little significance of the plot]). Then there are anime and manga that focuses on Christianity such as Superbook and Manga Bible. However, out of many major anime and manga titles, the only one I can think of in my mind that references Islam is JoJo's Bizarre Adventure where the bad guy reads verses from the Islamic holy book, the Quran. Luckily, the guys who made the manga that have this scene manage to halt the shipment for a while; mostly likely because they don't want have a controversy in the scale like the Danes printing the cartoons in the newspaper where it depicts Muhammad in a very negative way.

I'm not sure about how anime depicts Judaism in anime, but this is thread is mostly about depictions of Islam in anime (and manga to some extent). There are few questions that come into mind: How come Islamic references in anime is rarer than Christianity when it comes to non-Buddhist/Shinto religions? Do you think anime and manga artists would try to avoid depicting Muhammad (either in positive or negative way) to avoid Japan having strained relations with many Islamic countries? Or do you think it is double standard where anime and manga artists like throwing in Christian symbolism while completely ignoring Islamic ones? What makes Christianity stand out more than Islam in Japan? I'm not sure about you, but Japan is one of the most secular countries in the world (probably more secular than the United States).


Last edited by Dark Paladin X on Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ralifar



Joined: 15 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 5:00 pm Reply with quote
I honestly can't think of any anime that I've seen Islamic based things in. I suppose when anime has old testament things you can't really say it belongs to the Christian, the Islamic, or the Jewish faith as much of the heritage of their faiths are the same.

I think the main reason that you see more Christian references is simply because they know more about it. To my knowledge there were no Islam or Jew hunts in Japanese history. Christianity was introduced and propagated throughout Japan at a much earlier date than either Islam or Judaism. It's also easier to make fun of or distort a religion when you know that nobody is going to try and kill you for it.
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vision1



Joined: 11 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:10 pm Reply with quote
I can't offer more data to answer the question about Islamic imagery in anime- only the observation from my own experiences that it is extremely rare- but not completely missing.

The important thing to realize here, is that Islamic symbols or imagery is in itself very different from Christian symbolism. Example, In Christianity, there is some acceptance of idols- the Christ Statue, Mary, and the cross appears very frequently. The Japanese freely utilize the cross as a symbol of a grave (or to suggest 'religiousness') the same way it's generically used in the US. But ANY form of idol in Islam is strictly forbidden. Therefore, ANY depiction of the prophet is considered blesphemous, no matter what the context or intention, anywhere. So yes, if the prophet were to appear even as a faint image, and to be recognizeable to Muslims as such, it would absolutely be unwelcome and would deeply offend the Muslim community everywhere- not just in Japan.
In Anime, the use of religious symbolism by the Japanese is sometimes crossing the line, is offensive, and though I'm not strictly religious myself, it does make me uneasy at times. But at other times, I see great respect for spirituality, and the representation of many different faiths- some accurate, some not wholly accurate.

In Islam, there is no idolatry, but there is symbolism. The Muslim tradition is strong on architecture- especially domes, arches, and they use a lot of stylized stars, and of course the crecent, and the use of color patterns. I don't have a huge log of viewed anime, so I can only recall what I've recently seen and recognized as Islamic influenced designs in some shows:

In Cowboy Bebop, spoiler[Session 8, Waltz for Venus, the Hagia Sophia appears and is lovingly recreated as a building in the city on Venus. Though it was originally a domed Cathedral built in pre-Islamic times, the one shown in Waltz has the minarets, and I remember there being other buildings around it in Turkish style with domes or minarets.]
In Outlaw Star, episode 17, spoiler[the Silgrian church/shrine is clearly in the style of a mosque, with a dome and minarets. It is also coloured blue and pink (I think) which reflects the style of mosques in India and Bangladesh. Melfina visits the shrine twice- once in day, talks to the Silgrian priest, and once alone at night]. In Islam, however, women are actually not allowed to go to mosque (most sects). But since this is a religion created in a fictional world, those rules do not apply- but it was just a thought. I don't think the Muslim community was too infuriated by this, I don't know of any complaints, but I'll let any Muslims on the site comment on that...

I hope that helps!! Go dig up your Bebop DVDs and check out Session 8 and study the scenery, then get on the netz and look for pictures of Istanbul.... the artists did a great job on it, and depicted it with at dusk, which is really breathtaking.

(Edited to add spoiler blackout!)
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egoist
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:50 pm Reply with quote
The answer to all your questions lies in the fact that Japan does have Christianity in its past. As you could've seen in Rurouni Kenshin. It's something much simplier than just offending the Islam followers. They just don't know much about Islam, which results in not many Islamic anime. It's not like I have anything against Islam, or anything of the kind, but I'd definitely jump off the boat if a Islam based anime appears. I wouldn't mind if it was just about arabic characters, such as Setsuna from Gundam 00, carrying their symbols or praying to Muhammad. An anime forcing a new religion upon me is just not my thing; which is also something they have to take in consideration while creating an anime: Will the sales go well?

Ralifar wrote:
It's also easier to make fun of or distort a religion when you know that nobody is going to try and kill you for it.

Agreed. Osama might just start targeting Japan because of something like this. But, I really doubt that's the case.
Besides, Islam is a very strict religion. It's not so easy to make anything that good out of it, other than war based anime. Well, even war based anime might help promote Islam a little bit.

Edit: Why did my brain decide to write Islam as Slam? No idea, but it's been fixed.
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RHachicho



Joined: 07 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:42 pm Reply with quote
Its understandable that christianity would play a stronger role in anime as the religion had a much greater influence on japanese history. I Myself come from a islamic/christian marriage so i have family on either side of that fence so im quite sensitive to how islam is portrayed in the stuff that i watch i hate watching Hollywood movies that depict all islamic people to be suicide bombing stoning terrorists or dirty lecherous camel peddlers.

In that respect personally I've been quite impressed by how arabic culture and religion is portrayed in anime sure sometimes theyre the bad guys but just as often they are the good guys and quite often are portrayed in a good light. Sometimes this is a little stealthed like spoiler[ scars heritage in fma ] but the portrayel of an arabic culture is definately there.

To be honest i think that the potrayal of religion in anime is just about as non biased as you can ever get its hardly as if there are no anime with negative christian influences. Its the potrayal of anything Arabic or Islamic in Hollywood as either loathesome terrifying or astonishingly backward that sickens me about the only film I've seen that portrayed islamic religion in any kind of decent light was the mummy and even that film had the smelly greedy lecherous fez wearing stereotype (and was an awful movie).

I highly doubt "Osama" will ever target japan though quite apart from the fact that there is likely no centralised mastermind behind middle eastern terrorism if anyones going to blow something up it will be in America or Britain the islamic people might be insulted by cartoons but they arent about to carbomb animation studios because of it i may be out of line but i dislike the implication that the Arabic world is filled with psycopaths who will set a bomb under your seat for picking your nose and eating it.


Last edited by RHachicho on Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Key
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:52 pm Reply with quote
As others have said, neither Islam nor Judaism is part of the Japanese consciousness. Estimates on adherants of Islam in Japan vary but are generally in the range of 0.05-0.1%, with perhaps as many as half of those being non-natives. Estimates on the number of Jews in the country are about 1/50 to 1/100 of that - only about 2,000 total. By contrast, about 1% of Japanese adhere to Christianity, which is about the same percentage as Judaism has in the States. Due to missionary work, Christianity also has a presence in Japan dating back to the 1600s, so the common Japanese is at least familiar with it even if they don't follow it. The same is likely not true of Islam or Judaism.

Also, let's not forget that, unlike with Islam or Judaism, Japanese culture has absorbed several traditionally Christian elements, such as certain holidays (especially Christmas) and the bride dressing in white for a wedding; in fact, church weddings amongst younger people are not that uncommon in Japan, even amongst people who aren't Christian. Of course, the Japanese have customized these trappings to their own purposes, but that's beside the point.


Last edited by Key on Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dark Paladin X



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:26 pm Reply with quote
Yea I think the main reason why Christian symbolism in anime is more common than Islam and Judaism is mostly the fact that the Japanese are more familiar with Christianity than the other two religions I've mentioned (and probably a historical and demographical reason like Key said). Although being said, I'm not entirely about the issue of Judaism in Japan, but I'm pretty sure that the Japanese definitely didn't adapt any anti-semitic policies from Nazi Germany during WWII.

Enough with that, but I also agree with Ralifar, I think anime artists might choose to throw in Christian references more than Islamic ones is mostly due to the fact these two religions have different reactions when it comes to blasphemy. For instance, when the Harry Potter book series came out, there were some Christians simply expressing concerns in words and boycott about promotion of witchcraft (which is forbidden according to the Bible, but being an agnostic, I question this). Apparently, I never heard any reports of Christians making death threats to J.K. Rowling. However, if you try to cross the line when it comes to blasphemy in Islam, it is a whole different reaction. Take, for instance, when the Danes published several cartoons in a newspaper depicting Muhammad as a terrorist, the reaction from the Islamic world is very dirty. Not only you have protests, but also death threats and violence against many westerners, Christians, Jews, and those who are responsible to the Danish cartoons. The reaction from the Islamic world is so bad that even many Muslim majority countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran shattered diplomatic relations with Denmark. Now personally, I find the Danish cartoons to be unfunny, but I think the Muslim world overreacted.

Now I'm not sure about Japan's diplomatic relationship with many Islamic countries, but I know many anime artists would try to avoid having depictions of Koreans mainly because Japan's diplomatic relationship with North and South Korea remains very sour mostly because of the atrocities that Japanese did to the Koreans prior to and during WWII, which the South Koreans are still very bitter about (and I could almost say the same thing with China and Japan, although the irony here is many Japanese anime artists don't mind putting in Chinese characters). All I could say is this, if an anime artist from Japan in any form tries to cross the line with Muslims and depict something that is considered to be blasphemous, I can ensure you that many Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran will really be pissed off and try to cut ties with Japan (even Iran and Saudi Arabia are still very bitter and sour towards Denmark after the Danish Muhammad cartoons fiasco).
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RHachicho



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:36 pm Reply with quote
Well lets try not to derail the post admittedly i could rant about politics and religion forever however this is an anime forum so i wont argue the points raised and suggest with respect to the op we allow our ruffled feathers to settle.

I do agree however that yeah judaism seems to be markedly absent from anime in any shape or form i wonder why that is perhaps because all the themes from jewish history have pretty much been done to death already in western cinema. I've also always thaught that judeism has a sort of home spun feel to it perhaps because the jews never really had a nation until recently but when looking for fire and brimstone and dramatic tension most directors tend to go for either christianity or islam.

Its a bit funny how being adopted by an empire sometime in the past tends to give a religion a bombastic smite the haethens sort of tone dousnt it ? but whoops im into politics and religion again .. geez op good luck if this gets to page 3 without being hopelessly derailed youl have my respect lol i usually try to be considerate but im itching to lecture people atm.

garr must surpress.
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Key
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:23 am Reply with quote
RHachicho, a couple of official suggestions/recommendations:

1) Actually attempt to use proper grammar (especially capitalization rules) and spelling in your posts. It is expected in these forums.

2) It would be quite helpful if your post made much (any?) sense. Please try to organize your thoughts better, as you're rambling badly.


Last edited by Key on Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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egoist
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:31 am Reply with quote
It's turning into a hardcore religious conversation. Keep it within anime, please.
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DuskyPredator
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:10 am Reply with quote
I think I remember some Islamic themes in Full Metal Panic, though I think the religous part is not very large and a lot of the country names are changed. I don't think it is put in a bad light

I also think I remember something related in one of the seasons of Zetsubou Sensei.

Wait I think there was some Judaism in anime, in the Full Metal Alchemist movie, which is set in Holland just prior to WWII. I know at least the director was suposed to be.
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Shawn Shaolin



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:18 am Reply with quote
The closest thing I can think of about Islam in anime, is Shiram Sei Sei in Gundam 00 JUST BECAUSE he's Middle Eastern. Its not like he was offering Sal-at, or fasting for Ramadan, or greeted Stratos, or Haptism with the phrase A-Salaam Alaikum.

There is a soft Islamic overtone in Cowboy Bebop: Knockin on Heaven's door, when Spike greets Rasheed while walking in Morocco Town, and a passer-by greets Rasheed with A-Salaam Alaikum.
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Ktimene's Lover



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 11:09 am Reply with quote
In the Planetes manga, they have a character do a Muslim prayer. I would think the anime version incorporated this.
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SalarymanJoe



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 11:29 am Reply with quote
Key wrote:
As others have said, neither Islam nor Judaism is part of the Japanese consciousness. Estimates on adherants of Islam in Japan vary but are generally in the range of 0.05-0.1%, with perhaps as many as half of those being non-natives. Estimates on the number of Jews in the country are about 1/50 to 1/100 of that - only about 2,000 total. By contrast, about 1% of Japanese adhere to Christianity, which is about the same percentage as Judaism has in the States. Due to missionary work, Christianity also has a presence in Japan dating back to the 1600s, so the common Japanese is at least familiar with it even if they don't follow it. The same is likely not true of Islam or Judaism.


Quoting this again, because, well, it's the truth.

Dark Paladin X wrote:
Case in point, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Chrono Crusade used heavy Christian symbolism and references (although the earlier uses some Jewish references as well).


Because they're cool and exotic. Just like with your later Jojo example, the manga scene had scribbles; it was the anime which featured pages from the Quran. They didn't mean to equate a holy text with evil but they wanted something cool and exotic. Arabic was just that.

Additionally, the Star of David was used as a magical symbol in an ancient temple in Project A-ko 4. But, in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter much because it was something that looked cool and exotic in a cartoon. Just like everything with Evangelion or Chrno Crusade, it was cool and exotic.

To me, the whole premise of the question is based on two areas of shaky ground - 1, Japan is aware of details of all Abrahamic Religions and 2 - Is this what Japan thinks of said religions?

1 is shaky because, as Key noted, there is a larger Christian population in Japan, compared to the other Abrahamic religions; there have even been Christian Prime Ministers. I believe 2 to be shaky because a lot of time people are looking for something cool and exotic. We have it in the States by going to ancient Chinese spirituality and medicine. In one vein, were attempting to premise Japanese cultural attitudes of large-scale geopolitical issues based on cartoons. Think about it for a second. Anime also features a lot of guns but weapons laws in Japan directly contrast the perception of liberal weapons use in anime. Sure, we can probably find a trend of political views in a certain director or creator by looking at a survey of their work but to try and ascribe certain values to a much larger group of individuals and up to an entire nation based on a handful of pop culture media I think is missing the mark entirely.

Dark Paladin X wrote:
Now I'm not sure about Japan's diplomatic relationship with many Islamic countries,


Arabs love UFO Robo Grendizer and Captain Tsubasa. Laughing
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RHachicho



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 11:53 am Reply with quote
Yeah sorry I do try odd though i thaught i made sense but that dousn't stop the fact that this isn't a religion forum its an anime forum my bad.

I will try and keep my grammar etc within reasonable limits however english is a second language to me i can speak it very well however im a bit bad at writing with it. If thats too much leeway to ask i guess il have to find another anime forum shame tho this one seems the best.
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