Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: An Examination of Clergy in Anime

As we’ve pointed out here several times, anime has a hard time portraying Western religion, and it can range from incorrect to just plain weird. For this week, I’m going to talk about two specific clergymen in anime that exemplify the concept that trusting the clergy is not the best idea.

Spoilers for Soul Eater and D. Gray Man ahead.

Our first subject is Justin Law from Soul Eater. Justin Law is one of Lord Death’s weapons. Justin is dressed like your typical clergyman, except everything is Lord Death themed. Now, if you’ve only watched the anime, you are going to be confused from this point on and you should probably stop reading right now. In the manga, Justin Law turns out to be a traitor and defects to Asura. When that happens, all of Justin’s Lord Death-themed attire turns Asura themed. Usually, I wouldn’t think much of a character defecting to the bad guys’ side. Thinking about it, it happens in almost every anime at one point or another. But I think there is something to be said when the only blatant traitor turns out to be the guy dressed as a priest. When it could have been anyone, having the priest switch sides makes it seem like they are not to be trusted.

And when you pair Justin Law with Apocryphos from D.Gray-Man, we have a theme of betrayal. Oh sure, he looks like a really nice guy in the photo to the left, but not so much when he shows his true form, aka that creepy looking guy to the right. Right now, Apocryphos is trying to hunt down and absorb Allen Walker. At first he appeared as the guy on the left, reassuring Allen that he wouldn’t be executed. Then, he turned around and said “let me absorb you”. Why?  I honestly have no idea. I think it’s something to do with protecting the heart of innocence, which is Apocryphos’ job. But let’s be real here: would you trust the guy on the right? I’m personally scared of him. If you think he’s trustworthy, go knock yourself out and be his BFF. I’ll let you do it.

I’m sure there are a gazillion more examples of clergyman acting like crazy people and therefore being people you can’t trust, but those were the two most prominent people I could think of who embodied the point that I was trying to make: don’t trust the clergy because they will betray you.

Manga Mondays: Soul Eater by Okubo Atsushi

From left to right: Maka, Liz and Patty, Death the Kid, Tsubaki, Blackstar, and Soul

For this week’s Manga Mondays, let’s talk Soul Eater, ladies and gentlepersons. Soul Eater by Okubo Atsushi follows Maka Albarn, a young student at the Death Weapon Meister Academy, who is training with her companion Soul ‘Soul Eater’ Evans in order to fight the evil forces in the world. The school is run by Death himself, and welcomes two types of students:   humans with the ability to transform into some deadly weapon, and humans who resonate with the weapon-students and can wield them in battle.

These evil forces are called kishin eggs, and they’re seeds of evil or hatred that corrupt humans and have their basis in the series main villainous force, Asura the Kishin (basically it means bad spirit).  Sort of like the devil, he feeds on the weakness in human hearts and drives people crazy; the students at the DWMA are out to stop him.  On the way they fight many other bad guys including witches, traitor teachers, and their own weaknesses to become stronger.  Any student duo or trio that can collect one hundred kishin eggs and the soul of a witch becomes a Death Scythe, meaning that they are deemed strong enough to be wielded by Lord Death himself.

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