Japanese Religion, Mythology, and the Supernatural in Anime and Manga

By Amy Plumb.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The world of anime and manga, Japanese animation and comics respectively, has developed into a pop-culture phenomenon with a rising popularity worldwide, triggering a shift from a niche market into the mainstream. Anime and manga are strongly hybrid texts which incorporate diverse pretexts, thus, this paper will focus on the pretexts of Japanese religion, mythology, and the supernatural in anime and manga, and an analysis of how these pretexts have constructed this mediums pictorial representation of such ideas. This paper will also examine how artists intertextualise recognised images as a form of symbolic shorthand to create new narratives via the retelling (or re-envisioning) of a vast accumulation of well-known stories, characters and settings for modern audiences. This paper draws heavily on the works of Miyazaki Hayao, who is greatly influenced by Shintō notions of purification and pollution. Other notable anime and manga included are: Watase Yuu’s Ayashi no Ceres and Kishimoto Masashi’s Naruto, both of which use Japan’s rich mythological database within their works as central components for their series; and the horror filled Hundred Stories which intertextualises traditional folktales and superstition, based in already recognised images and meanings.

Keywords: Anime, Manga, Japanese Religion, Japanese Mythology, Miyazaki Hayao, Watase Yū’s Ayashi no Ceres, Kishimoto Masashi’s Naruto

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.237-246. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 687.665KB).

Amy Plumb

Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

I’m a PhD candidate at Macquarie University, Australia. My thesis topic is Japanese religion, mythology, and the world of the supernatural in anime and manga (Japanese animations and comics). I’ve always loved classical mythology and when my interest in Japan began, it felt only logical to follow my love of mythology into a new culture. I hope to begin a Asian mythology class at my university in the future. I’m a Japanophile, so I love practically everything Japanese. I’m also a cat person.


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