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"Legend of Korra", Eastern Views, T.V & Ethics: What Can Christians learn from Anime?

Discussion in 'Christianity and World Religion' started by Gxg (G²), Oct 8, 2013.

  1. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Concerning why I'm writing this....

    Let me begin by saying that I don't think Christians should take an unequivocally hostile attitude to paganism or pagan themes, as not all Christians historically have done so in the Church - and I am wondering if others out there agree with me.

    As shared in another thread that examined the issue of literature elsewhere - in On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit, Seraphim of Sarov discusses the Greek sibyls, prophetesses or oracles, as examples of pagan sanctity. Additionally, many writers - from C.S Lewis to J.R Tolkien and many others - have consistently referenced other cultures when it came to expressing their views of who the Lord was....noting many cultures have partial truth and things the Bible supports. The way C.S Lewis was often demonized for promoting paganism is something that has always intrigued and fascinated me....

    Being one who is an anime art style fan, I have long enjoyed differing T.V shows (i.e.Dragon Ball Z with its unique focus on martial arts fighting/the concepts of chi, Tenchi Muyo with the way that the spiritual world and science interconnect, Ronin Warriors with its focus on the spiritual realm having rules/systems just as with the physical world ....and many other shows besides that).

    Currently, my favorite anime series is "Avatar: The Legend of Korra" (referenced earlier/here in # 15 ) - as the Avatar series occurs in an Asian-influenced world containing four nations associated with the classical elements (air, water, fire, earth). Some within each nation are able to manipulate their nation’s respective element through a form of “psychokinetic” martial arts called ”bending.” Apparently, the Avatar is the only one who can master all four elements and is charged with maintaining balance and peace. IMHO, with The Legend of Korra, it's amazing to see the animation as well as the focus on spiritual themes that have much basis in Eastern thought. The series is based on "Avatar: The Last Airbender" which wrapped in 2008 with a spectacular four-part conclusion. One of the groups discussed in the show are known as the Air Nomads, a monastic order of men and women practicing Airbending -- the mystical art of aerokinesis. They were pacifists and highly respected nature and creation....as well as ones into practices of deep spirituality (i.e meditation, restraint, etc). Many hints suggest that the Air Nomads are based on Chinese Shaolin monks (whom I've shared before on as being groups I respect for their culture/practice and economy) and Tibetan culture due to their peaceful nature, monk-ruled society, and geographical isolation due to elevation.



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    However, The Legend of Korra , following the adventures of the next “avatar” in an Eastern-flavored fantasy world, took it even further. Aang, the preteen hero of The Last Airbender had to master all four elements (as regular folks can “bend” only one element a piece) to save the world dominated by the Fire Nation - while his successor Korra has far more time and more-peaceful lands, but still problems. Korra’s second “book” or season began last moth and the series appears to be continuing its success of weaving great people, efficient plotting, and beautiful visuals with in-depth themes of technology vs. spirituality, and family conflicts and forgiveness.

    I’m personally a huge fan of the original series mainly because (from what I've been told and studied) it represents Asian culture extremely well, and secondly because of its LOTR-style plot mixed with a good sense of humor. Moreover, if you’re an animation fan - anime in particular - I feel this is a must-see. For the general consensus around the web is that the quality of the animation is astounding.


    The focus on the latest season is entitled "Spirits" - and I've greatly enjoyed it thus far.. in where it's trying to go






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    Indeed, the Avatarverse is definitely Eastern culture- and religion-flavored, with one titular mediation office-by-reincarnation and plenty of spirits, plus a natural-law magic system. Yet the worldview is of good versus evil, growth, and sin, repentance, and forgiveness.

    And although some advocate that Christians shouldn't watch shows that are not explicitly Christian, I do think that it's really about what one can either get out of it from a philosophy perspective is in the same way that one can read literature from non-Christian sources that still has real concepts that harmonize with the Bible (more discussed on the matter here). The Spirit aspect of the show doesn't really perplex me that much when considering Eastern culture and even concepts taught within Eastern Christianity - one can go here, here, here, here, here, here, here ,here , and here, where another Orthodox believer and I were involved in a rather detailed discussion on the subject of Christians on Earth and in Heaven - and their interaction with the world around us.

    And on anime issues, for places which gave some stances in support of believers engaging with anime, these are ones I had in mind:

    1. The Christian Anime Fan Perspective
    2. Eight Anime Recommendations for Christian Viewers |
    3. Christians vs anime and manga - ChristianManga.com
    4. Orthodoxy, Anime, and Hermeneutic | A Rather Silly Blog
    5. Next A Christian's Guide to Anime and Manga part 4-Discernment
    Some forms of anime seem to be bad at even conveying Christian themes - but there are others seeking to address that while noting what Christianity means to many in Japanese culture - in the same way others debate what Anime means to them in Western Christian culture.

    That said, does anyone have any thoughts on what a Biblical response should be on the matter? What is the line when it comes to literature used and enjoyed by CHristians? Additionally, for those who are not saved, what do you feel believers should be learning from anime or the concepts found in Eastern religion?
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
  2. Zoness

    Zoness Cipherpunk Supporter

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    I'm sure most Christians think anime is evil because its Eastern. :p

    Now that I have got the sarcastic quip out of my system, I'd like to revisit this thread in more depth later. Great subject!
     
  3. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Ha....:)

    There are a lot of factors that can come into play...and thankfully, not all believers have the same reaction. This is something another brother in Christ noted to me when I asked elsewhere on the issue - for as he said:



    Good thoughts and glad he shared them with me in dialogue....
    :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  4. awitch

    awitch @PluckyDuck3 on Twitter

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    I tend to focus mostly on American animation and I have to admit I'm not familiar with Dragon Ball Z or the Avatar franchises. Avatar is on my long list to watch, so I'll get there eventually. When I heard the live action movie bombed, it kind of dropped down on the list, but I'm sure the anime is far, far superior.
    I am very familiar with Tenchi Muyo! (It's my favorite anime), but only the OVA, Tenchi Universe, and the first two movies. I loved the idea Ayeka's starship is powered by a tree but for me, the nature/technology integration was a little overshadowed by this:
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  5. Zoness

    Zoness Cipherpunk Supporter

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    Tenchi Muyo is absolutely incredible as is Avatar. I highly recommend you bump it back up your list my good sir.
     
  6. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    American animation has a lot of good shows to consider - although you have to be selective...and some will never match what comes from Asian culture. Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing and many others come immediately to mind..

    That said, I think you'd be benefited by putting Avatar as an immediate must-see series rather than for the future :)
    The movie was ANYTHING but accurate - and I'm surprised they even tried it. The anime was beyond superior and I'm saddened it placed a bad taste in the mouths of others..
    Ryoko was my girl - and I loved her ship being a pet. Tenchi was a very complicated series and that's part of why it was so memorable..

    But my favorite version was Tenchi Muyo!

     
  7. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    I'd agree :)

    On a side note, up there with Tenchi Muyo would be the show Gundam Wing...one of the most epic sagas I've ever seen

    Gundam Wing - Epyon Gundam

    Indeed, Avatar is worth the bump....
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  8. AmericanChristian91

    AmericanChristian91 Regular Member

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    Technically Avatar isn't anime, its western animation. Yes it has anime influences, but several western cartoons have that as well, doesn't make it anime.
     
  9. awitch

    awitch @PluckyDuck3 on Twitter

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    Good catch. Air Bender and Korra have two American creators and were produced by Nickelodeon Animation (who is doing TMNT 2012 which is awesome).

    It's actually anime-style? (like Teen Titans). I guess it moves up the list then.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  10. Zoness

    Zoness Cipherpunk Supporter

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    Correct, this is an important distinction to make.
     
  11. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    That distinction can easily be used to miss a lot of the larger aspects that anime is focused on and miss where something being made in the West doesn't mean it's divorced from what anime is about. It's similar to the difference between someone not being deemed "Black" because they don't identify with African-American culture (or happen to be Caucasian) even though they grew up around/were influenced by Blacks in how they communicate - and not all things "Black" are automatically African-American when you have many other variations (i.e. Afro-Asian, Afro-Hispanic, etc.).

    There are levels and categories.

    In example, the Boondocks is a successful and controversial anime-influenced American animation based on the comic strip of the same name - aimed at adults and airing on Adult Swim. The creator of the series, Aaron McGruder, noted that the series was influenced by his love of anime and manga - with him citing Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo as sources of inspiration for the series' fight scenes.

    However, that is not the same as having a show made in the West - with both Anime Style animation and concept that are found predominately within Anime. With Avatar, it is a prime example of a Western animation influenced by anime, or, as it has recently been called, an "Amerime".....for though technically not an anime because of its American origin, many fans have considered it anime due to its plot/style being very similar to ones normally seen in anime. As one review noted, "Avatar blurs the line between anime and (US) domestic cartoons until it becomes irrelevant." Avatar is closest to eastern anime in that the plot continuously develops as opposed to "every episode ends the same way" - in addition to how the story is very similar to anime adventure stories while the martial arts are well researched and there's inclusion of more classic anime stereotypes, though they are slightly changed for American television.

    There was a good review on the issue as seen in Avatar the "Anime"? - Eastern Religion and Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Influence of Japanese Animation on Avatar - Serious Artist Kat - and for others:

    Frost Bite: The Definition of Anime​


    Anime's strengths are evident - diverse genres, more experimental/esoteric subjects, etc. However, it's weaknesses can be just as evident, like its ability to get stuck in trends. Western Animation is kind of the exact opposite - for aside from exceptions like Aeon Flux, Adventure Time, and Avatar, most US/Western stuff tends to be more "safe" or nothing more than an advert.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  12. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Makes you wonder - would it be consider Anime if it was made by Japanese American creators since so many define Anime as being based in Japan.....
     
  13. awitch

    awitch @PluckyDuck3 on Twitter

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    Watched the Frost Bite video and I do see both sides of the argument.
    I think I still go with the origin side. Cartoons produced in Japan, by Japanese creators, primary for a Japanese target audience is anime. That means the cartoons were written in Japanese, recorded by Japanese voice artists in Japanese, and released primarily for the Japanese market. Examples include Tenchi, Phantom Quest Corp, etc.

    "Anime-style" would describe animation that emulates many of the conventions used in anime, but are not produced in Japan or were not intended for a Japanese audience (for example, original voice recording is in English for a US release). For example, Air Bender and Teen Titans.

    And then Western Animation would be Disney, Warners, HB, etc. (note that even Disney and WB have cells painted by Korean and Japanese studios).
     
  14. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    I'd probably argue that the origin side you're noting is more so a matter of "Golden-Age" anime while the side of anime-style/anime shows made in the West would be "Modern-Anime" since it includes much more - with each group having sub-categories.

    True...
     
  15. awitch

    awitch @PluckyDuck3 on Twitter

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    Just watched episode 1 of Avatar; so far so good. I'll probably get to episode 2 later tonight. First impressions are that Aang's a cross between Jesus and Anakin Skywalker.
     
  16. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    The concept of the Avatar series (as it concerns Aang epsecially) definately has a Messiah aspect to it - although there are also militant aspects when seeing the diplomacy/peacekeeping dynamic. And the show is HIGHLY political in the themes it touches upon and how the central character (the Avatar ) comes to change things just as Christ came into the world to change things...
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013
  17. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    The best seasons are Book 2 and Book 3
     
  18. awitch

    awitch @PluckyDuck3 on Twitter

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    I've watched the first 4 episodes. I don't really know anything about the story so don't tell me if I'm right, but here's my prediction:

    Zuko is convinced by his uncle to switch sides and eventually helps Aang overthrow the fire kingdom. He's already exiled, already at odds with the fire kingdom leadership, has an unhealthy obsession with finding and capturing Aang, and now he's racing against the rest of the fire kingdom to do so. His Uncle, who is the only one who supports him comes across as a good guy, and his pursuit is going to be far more personal.
     
  19. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Interesting theory - and will be intrigued how you feel by the end of it.
     
  20. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    In regards to the OP, for anyone watching the series, one thing I appreciate is the ways it seems to do a really amazing job with reflecting the background of others who are Central Asian peoples. ..from spirituality to clothing styles and culture on differing levels.

    One excellent piece on the issue which I could relate to:


    And with Legend of Korra, I appreciated the ways the series sought to critique the dynamics of industrialization and inequality - as discussed before:

     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
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