Naruto and the Spirit World

narutoI just started watching Naruto this past few weeks. I know I’m a little too late to the party but that’s alright. As of this writing (June 2010), I’ve only watched seven of the current 220 episodes available. That’s not counting the other 166 episodes of Naruto Shippuden. At the rate I am going, I’m guessing I’ll finish the entire series at least before kingdom come. Who knows?

Anyway, while I enjoy the kiddie appeal of the storyline, I have two things to say about the mythology and worldview behind the story. The last item in the list is a rant. Kind of. Here goes:

  1. Access to the spirit world. From Hayao Miyazaki’s movies to the Dragon Ball series to Naruto, I noticed the subtle insinuation in Japanese animé that with disciplined training and concentration, people can access the spirit world and take advantage of its powers. In Biblical worldview, it’s actually called sorcery and it is an abomination to God. Also, the way to spiritual strength is not by getting a sensei and doing some ninja discipline.
  2. Demonology 101. In Naruto, demons are rogue spirits that attack villages and terrorize people. They’re usually portrayed as vicious animals like wolves and other terrifying monsters. In the Biblical worldview, demons are evil spirits who stand in opposition to Christ and the church. They don’t necessarily look monstrous as Satan could even disguise as angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Yes they could sometimes oppress people but not without the express permission from God. In other words, they cannot attack at will like some rogue monsters.
  3. The absence of parents. After watching the first few Naruto episodes, I began to notice a recurring pattern in Japanese animé: the narratives revolve around kids whose parents are conspicuously absent from the stories. I’m sure it’s just a plot device to make the narrative more interesting but I’m still questioning the parenting culture of Animéland.

Okay, animé rant ends here. Carry on folks!