The God-Shaped Hole!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Gospel according to Anime

People who sin say this: that they had to, to survive.
People who sin say this: that it's too late to stop.
The shadow called Sin dogs them steadily without a word.
Remorse and Agony are repeated, to finally end up at Dispair.
But sinners don't know...
... that if they turn around, there is a light...
... a light which keeps shining on them ever so warmly.

There are a few anime/manga heroes that reflect some of the character of Jesus. Himura Kenshin, of Rurouni Kenshin, and Goku of Dragonball both refuse to kill, even when their own life is threatened, and both will put themselves in harm's way to protect others. Characters like this are obviously not unique to manga or anime; most superheroes of the Western comics traditions are also devoted to such a self-sacrificial lifestyle, as is the popular conception of a firefighter, police officer, or member of the armed forces.

One of the best is Vash the Stampede from the manga and anime Trigun. As with Kenshin and Goku, Vash refuses to take the life of anyone, even his most dangerous foes, the Gung-Ho Guns. Valiant and determined, he embodies those characteristics which most people find noblest.

He almost fits the God-shaped hole that everyone has in their heart.

He gets angry whenever someone is killed, especially if someone "good" kills a "bad guy." Even the natural predation of animals is hard for him to accept, because death goes against his character. At one point, he is forced to kill the leader of the Gung-Ho Guns, Legato, which puts him into a deep depression. He only emerges from this depression by realizing that forgiving himself is essential to living in a fallen world.

The quote at the beginning of this post was a voice-over during the preview for part two of the sand-steamer episode. That episode ended the first stage of the anime; in the following episode, he met Nicholas D Wolfwood, the wandering priest, which kicked off the second stage of the anime.

The two women that follow him, Meryl Stryfe and Millie Thompson, are from an insurance society which has had to pay out on damages apparently caused by Vash the Stampede. Over the course of the first stage of the anime, they become his disciples as they learn his character. To me, they represent Martha and Mary, respectively.

By watching the Trigun anime, I have gained a deeper connection to Jesus. While ideals may not always be reached in this lifetime, stories like Trigun illustrate just how deep those ideals are in humanity's collective heart.

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