While religious figures in anime aren't exactly common, they have shown up in some truly strange places. You might expect to see figures from Shintoism and Buddhism, the two most popular religions in Japan. However, what you might not expect is the Buddha to be roommates with Anime Jesus in a modern Tokyo apartment, as is the case in Saint Young Men, or to see Moses parting the Red Sea with a Beyblade. Yes, that's an actual thing.
These are far from the only weird times religious figures were in anime. Prophets, messiahs, and gods appear in a myriad of shows. Keep in mind that not all of these portrayals are respectful, accurate representations of the faith that they reference. In some cases, they may even be offensive. Read on below to discover all the strange times that religious figures showed up in anime and vote up the most awesome examples.
Noragami is a show that focuses on a fictional god named Yato and includes some gods from actual Shinto mythology. Chief amongst them are the Seven Lucky Gods, who bring luck to people as they pursue a variety of trades and art forms. In Noragami, these gods do everything from answer people's prayers to riding around on a lion wearing bondage gear.
Noragami also features Izanami, the goddess of both creation and death. In the episode where she appears, she's a maggot-infested corpse who attempts to keep Yato and Ebisu (her son in both the anime and the myth) trapped in hell with her for companionship. This is quite similar to the actual myth, where her husband Izanagi tries to bring her back from Yomi, the land of the dead, but she tries to keep him there with her.
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In The Devil Is a Part-timer, Satan gets forced through a portal and ends up on Earth. Unable to find a way back to Hell and stripped of his usual underworld powers, Satan tries to make it in the human world by changing his name to Sadao Maou and taking a job at a fake version of McDonalds called MgRonalds. So, you get to see the King of Hell smiling at customers and asking if they want fries with that.
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The most notorious example of religious figures in anime comes from Saint Young Men, a two-episode OVA which features Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha living together in a Tokyo apartment while visiting Earth. The humor is mostly based on lighthearted potshots at both religions, plus jokes about how these deities interact with modern Japanese life. Despite the fact that some of the references to religious stories might go over your head if you're not intimately familiar with them, the absurdity of the concept makes the show entertaining.
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Kamigami no Asobi features a cast full of gods in anime bishounen form. Yui Kusanagi, the daughter of a family who runs a Shinto Shrine, is magically transported to another world, where she meets Zeus. Unlike the Zeus in actual Greek mythology, whose main goal seems to be impregnating as many women as possible, this Zeus wants to improve human-deity relations by having Yui attend high school with a variety of young gods, including Hades and Apollo of Greek mythology, Balder and Loki of Norse mythology, Anubis and Thoth of Egyptian mythology, and many more. And you thought your classmates were weird.
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