Greetings! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a happy New Year. This month RishRaff Reviews looked at a number of anime pertaining to Christmas and the Christmas season. Among them was Kanon (2006), an anime that I surprisingly enjoyed a lot. We will be looking at this anime today, so beware of potential SPOILERS ahead.
Why Christianity v. Anime?
For anyone who missed my previous Christianity v. Anime post, which I encourage you to check out if you enjoy reading this article, here is a quick catch up to why I am writing this. Japan is one of the most secular countries in the world, yet a lot of traditions and attitudes are rooted in religion. Christianity has an interesting backstory in Japan (which I encourage you to look up), and does have a presence, albeit minor, in the modern day Japan. As such, anime provides a useful tool for examining the attitudes of the Japanese towards Christianity. Visual Key repeatedly includes Christian elements in their anime like Angel Beats and Clannad, and Kanon is no different. Based on a visual novel of the same name, there are two versions of the anime from 2002 and 2006. I will be looking at the 2006 version in my analysis today. The anime is notable for heavy symbolism based on various characters. Among this is a notable use of Christian symbolism, especially in relation to the character Ayu. So now let’s begin!
Ayu and Angels
Between her angel-winged backpack and an angel doll it it obvious Ayu is closely associated with angels in Kanon. This parallel extends beyond her appearance, shown in her state of existence during the show. Angels in the Bible are agents of God, that is to say His messengers, referenced in verses such as Luke 1:11-13 and Zechariah 1:12-14. This is clearly seen in both the Hebrew and Greek words for angel, mal`ach and angelos respectively, which both mean messenger. Ayu’s tie to Biblical angels is in how she acts as a messenger to Yuuichi. She guides him to his memories, helping him to remember much about his past. Actually, Ayu is very much the catalyst in the story, as are angels in much of the Bible. The fact she exists as a spiritual being as a soul independent from her physical body for most of the anime further links her to angels. Something interesting to note that nowhere in the Bible is the visible form of an angel described as appearing female, instead almost always appearing as young men when appearing in human form, a trait Ayu obviously does not share.
In the Church
The final episode of Kanon features a notable scene with Yuuichi praying in a church for a miracle. The church in the anime is actually a real building, specifically the Yamate Catholic Church, as it is known locally. During one of moments when the camera pans out the anime displays a specific stained glass, which is also modeled on a real stained glass found within the church. Initially, I’d thought it had been a depiction of a scene from Revelation, but upon further research, realized it was a depiction of the Catholic Saint John of Nepomuk. He was a martyr killed by drowning by King Wenceslaus for refusing to divulge secrets of a confession from the queen. While the stained glass is not necessarily meant to have some significance within the anime, it is notable that John of Nepomuk is considered a patron against calumnies, or defamation, as well as a protector against floods and drowning. There is no real connection between the anime and the specific saint, unfortunately. While arguably a depiction of the power of prayer and miracles, the church scene is not significant to the anime overall in terms of themes or as a connection to Christianity outside of its appearance.
What are your thoughts on the Christian elements of Kanon? Especially do you see any ties between the Kanon and the Yamate Catholic Church scene and Christianity? Be sure to comment below and let me know! Happy New Year everyone!