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Christian Imagery in JRPG

It has been a tendency of Japanese media to use religious imagery, be it in a generally acceptable manner or not.

These imageries are not limited to Christianity - we should remember that other religions, including Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism and various mythologies from all corners of the earth also get allusions and the occasional direct reference. Buddhism and Shintoism are commonplace in much of Japanese life; with the latter birthed in the Land of Rising Sun and the former the prominent belief, such allusions to these religions are inevitable. Even the Kuji-kiri techniques/powers used by archetypical ninjas (popular since the fascination with ninjas in the Edo period from 1603 to 1868) in Japanese legend and literature are references to Taoism.

It is not difficult, however, to say that Christianity has had the biggest slice of the cake (or has otherwise taken the most stabs).

In MGQ alone, we see a powerful example:

Ilias is an obvious allusion to the Christian God. Take careful consideration of the way in which she introduces herself:

"Many, many years ago, in a time man cannot comprehend, I created this world.

First was the earth, sky and sea.

Then the animals, birds and insects.

Finally, I created Humanity."

These lines bear a striking resemblance to the opening lines of the Book of Genesis.

Then there is her appearance, with those angelic wings and white robe. One may argue that these elements are generic, that these are references to a Western god and not necessarily a direct shoutout to Christianity.

This argument is not completely wrong - after all, it was Western artists like Michelangelo and Raphael who painted the image of the Creator that we are all so accustomed to: with a white robe, a dignified elder amongst the clouds. The Christian God Himself never showed His face to anyone - so these depictions could be entirely erroneous. Are they under public domain then? Free to use to sate the world's expectations and fantasies?

It is not wrong to use such imagery, but when the MGQ developers go so far as to portray Ilias the way they did (not including spoilers here), I think I can clearly say that they have crossed the line. After making such connections to Christianity, to put her the way they did is rather.....disrespectful. Simply making her a female and giving her a custom-made name is hardly the best insurance against offended Christians.

MGQ is not alone. Countless other JRPGs, animes, manga, television drama, movies (the whole miscellanea of media) have made worse portrayals. Not all are bad; some in fact gild the lily, such that they end up having that quality that Sunday sermons have. But that doesn't discount the fact that bad depictions are bad.

Of course, to single out the Japanese for this act would be erroneous; yet it is not possible to simply ignore this strange phenomenon. Peculiar especially because the Christian faith was literally exterminated by a certain Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century and the number of Christians in Japan is relatively minute - about 1% of the population.

Of course, to single out the Japanese for this act would be an obvious act of prejudice; other countries do the same - but perhaps Japan has the greatest overflow of such creative juices - no surprise given the influence of Japanese works and culture in the modern world.

Or perhaps it is due to the relative openness of Christianity as a whole. Imagine drawing such figures about Islam instead. I'd imagine World War 3.

Still, this tendency of Japanese creativity is unusual and often it leaves a bad aftertaste.

MGQ and the Japanese are great no doubt...I just wish they had a bit more sensitivity.

Wait.

Why am I making such philosophical demands from a H-game again?

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