Shinto in popular culture
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Shinto is frequently a theme in Japanese popular culture, including film, manga, anime, and video games. Shinto religion is at the core of Japanese culture and history and as such greatly affects the outcome of pop culture in modern Japan. The references are pervasive and have significant relevance to modern life in Japan amongst the new generations.
This page follows discussion of each genre with a list of works in Japanese or international popular culture that borrow significantly from Shinto myths, deities, and beliefs. It is not an exhaustive list of the many games, movies, manga and other cultural products that mention the religion or the names of its deities.
Shinto as popular culture
Anime and manga
- In Dream Saga, the Earth is destroyed and recreated whenever humans have polluted it. This is done when Susanoo, the shinto god of the sea and storms, (the brother to Amaterasu) consumes Amaterasu, the sun goddess. The two main characters, Yuuki and Takaomi, are given key roles in the process.[non-primary source needed]
- In the manga Urusei Yatsura, a parody of the famous story of Amaterasu hiding in Ama-no-Iwato cave is performed, which ends when the gods decide they enjoy the burlesque spectacle outside the cave so much, they lock Amaterasu inside.
- Susanoo the Brawler is an episodic comic by Elizabeth Watasin, appearing in Action Girl Comics, in which many members of the Japanese pantheon are incarnated as teenage girls.
- In the manga and anime series, Naruto there is a list of Mangekyo Sharingan Jutsus named Tsukuyomi (illusions created when the victim stares upon the Sharingan user), Amaterasu (inextinguishable flame), Susanoo (a humanoid armor), Izanagi (resetting ability) and Izanami (looping ability).
Some Japanese films feature themes from Shinto religion or characters based on kami. This is especially the case in animated films, such as Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, but can also be seen in live action and tokusatsu (special-effects driven) films.
- In the 2003 film Onmyoji II, the story of Amaterasu (played by Kyōko Fukada) is revisited when the main character, based on Abe no Seimei (played by Mansai Nomura), assumes the role of the dancer in bringing the goddess back to earth. Susanoo is also a character in the film, played by Hayato Ichihara.
- In the Stargate series, Amaterasu is a Goa'uld System Lord who comes to Earth with Lord Yu and Camulus to form a temporary truce between Earth and the Goa'uld.
- In The Three Treasures Toshirō Mifune portrays Susanoo.
- In Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon Susanoo wishes to follow his mother, Izanami, to heaven when she dies, but his father, Izanagi, tells him he cannot.
Video games may relate to themes or characters from Shinto, as well as Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions. Such games may present a heterodox or alternative take on religion, or even parody traditional practice or belief. In addition to Shinto stories or kami, themes such as the sacredness of nature or the place of magic in everyday life are also visible in such games.
- In the 2006 video game Ōkami, Amaterasu is depicted as a white wolf and she is the main protagonist of the game. As in the traditional Shinto, Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun, but in the game she controls many other powers as well by painting things. This depiction of Amaterasu is also a playable character in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
- The Shin Megami Tensei Series have several references to Shinto and religion in general. Starting from a name that translates as True Goddess Reincarnation, to god Kagutsuchi in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.
- In 2016, four Japanese deities were included as playable characters in the multiplayer online battle arena video game Smite.
- In the video game Destiny, the Susanoo Fusion Rifle made an appearance as a Warlock exclusive weapon with the release of The Taken King expansion. The flavor text for this gun reads "The fearsome Storms of Today become the healing waters of tomorrow". This gun came out with the Stormcaller class, alluding to Susanoo's status as a storm deity.
- In the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, Susanoo appears as a primal boss fight in the most recent expansion, Stormblood, as the first primal that the player faces in the story.
Other works of popular culture
Shinto stories or kami also appear in other works of popular culture, including work set in Japan but produced outside of the country.
- The Shinto deities Izanami and Izanagi (the latter incorrectly spelled as "Izaghi") appear in Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly.[page needed]
- The Shinto deities Izanami and Izanagi (spelled "Izanaki") appear in Natsuo Kirino's The Goddess Chronicle.[non-primary source needed]
- In the novel, Giles Goat-Boy, author John Barth makes reference to the people of Japan as the "Amaterasu," who were EATEN by WESCAC (a reference to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) during the "Second Campus Riot" (World War II).[non-primary source needed][page needed]
- Izanagi and Izanami appear as minor supporting characters in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic book series, aiding the Turtles and their allies in battle against a powerful demon whose emergence from a damaged nuclear reactor threatens the safety of all Japan.[non-primary source needed]
- Picken, Stuart D.B. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Shinto (2nd ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. ISBN 0810873729. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
- Cavallaro, Dani (2010). Magic as Metaphor in Anime: A Critical Study. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 8. ISBN 0786456205.
While in the Judaeo-Christian creed, the divinity is thought of as external to both time and space, in Shinto, spiritual forces (kami) are ...
- Steiff, Josef; Tamplin, Tristan D. (2010). Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder. Chicago, Illinos: Open Court. ISBN 0812696700.
For those of us not familiar with Shinto, its difficult to come to terms with a spiritual belief system that is not quite a religion and not ... Whether we comprehend the complex aspects of Shinto and its many evolutions—from its earliest origins to its ...
- Hu, Tze-yue G. (2010). Frames of Anime: Culture and Image-Building. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. p. 48. ISBN 9622090982.
Shintō scholar Muraoka Tsunetsugu identifies the creative musubi kami with "the power of growth and reproduction
- Gymnich, Marion; Lichterfeld, Imke (2012). A Hundred Years of the Secret Garden: Frances Hodgson Burnett's Children's Classic Revisited. Göttingen: Bonn University Press. p. 111. ISBN 3847100548.
Shinto basically provides thousands of stories and ancient myths which Japanese become familiar with from an early age.
- Napier, Susan J. (2001). Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave. p. 113. ISBN 0312238630.
The film's haunting theme song is also clearly inspired by Shinto liturgy, 15 in its invocation to the gods to come and dance ... In fact, Oshii states that the "net" can be equated with the myriad gods of the Shinto religion,16 underlining the notion ...
- Tachikawa, Megumi (2004). Dream Saga, Volume 3. Los Angeles, California: Tokyopop. ISBN 1591827760.
- Mazur, Eric Michael (2011). Encyclopedia of Religion and Film. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 250. ISBN 9780313013980. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Whitt, David; Perlich, John (2008). Sith, Slayers, Stargates & Cyborgs: Modern Mythology in the New Millennium. New York: P. Lang. p. 88. ISBN 9781433100956. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Pitts, Michael R. (2010). Columbia Pictures: Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 134. ISBN 9780786444472. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Perron, Bernard (2009). Horror Video Games: Essays on the Fusion of Fear and Play. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 95–120. ISBN 9780786441976. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
- Ong, Alicia. "The Religions Behind Final Fantasy" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Bainbridge, William Sims; Bainbridge, Wilma Alice (2007). "Electronic game research methodologies: Studying religious implications". Review of Religious Research. 49 (1): 35–53.
- Walsh, Doug (2008). Ōkami: Official Strategy Guide for Nintendo Wii. Indianapolis, Indiana: Brady Games. ISBN 9780744010350.
- Thursen, Chris (7 January 2016). "Smite season 3: Japanese gods herald huge changes". PC Gamer. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
- Fisher, Burton D. (2001). Puccini's Madam Butterfly: Opera Classics Library Series. Miami: Opera Journeys Publishing. ISBN 9780977132034. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Kirino, Natsuo (2012). The Goddess Chronicle. Edinburgh; New York: Canongate. ISBN 9780802121097.
- Barth, John (1987). Giles Goat-Boy, or, The Revised New Syllabus (Anchor Books ed.). Garden City, New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday. ISBN 0385240864.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #28: "Midnight Sun", Part 1 (January 1992)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #30: "Midnight Sun", Part 3 (March 1992)