2023 | 2

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 14 of 14
  • Article
    After Great Pain. The Uses of Religious Folklore in Kenji Mizoguchi’s SANSHO THE BAILIFF (JP 1954) and Kaneto Shindo’s ONIBABA (JP 1964)
    Ng, Teng-Kuan (2023)
    This article studies the adaptations and applications of religious folklore in two mas-terworks of Japanese cinema: Kenji Mizoguchi’s Sansho Dayu (Sansho the Bailiff, JP 1954) and Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba (JP 1964). While academic approaches will often draw a strict line between narrative genres and discursive forms, these films, I argue, draw creatively from Japanese tradition for both critical and constructive purposes in the postwar context. Besides mounting trenchant criticisms of Japan’s erstwhile militaristic violence and imperial ambitions, both filmmakers present their respective female protagonists as models for spiritual and sociocultural transformation in the face of anomie. Embodying humanistic compassion on the one hand and ontogenetic eros on the other, the two women compose complementary poles for reconstruction amidst the painful aftermath of war.
  • Article
    Cyber-Transcendence and Immanence as a Religio-Spiritual Phenomenon in Cyberpunk Anime
    Frey,Malte (2023)
    This article argues that Western cyberpunk narratives often suggest a technologically invoked transcendence, a cyber-transcendence, which represents a new ontolog-ical sphere and offers catharsis in dystopian scenarios. While Japanese cyberpunk anime also explore the idea of cyber-transcendence, the clear distinction between immanence and transcendence often becomes blurred. Aesthetic concepts invoking transcendence can be linked to the awe-inspiring kami (deities) of Japanese Shinto, which are intertwined with the immanent sphere of reality rather than external to it. In Western cyberpunk, cyber-transcendence seems to provide the sense of depth that Paul Tillich labels the “dimension of religion”, in contrast to postmodernist meaning-lessness. Cyberpunk anime provide an understanding of transcendence as a religious dimension that exists within reality
  • Review
    Dance and Video Review. Jonas Mekas, Virginie Marchand and Kazuo Ohno
    Yoshida, Yukihiko; Marchand, Virginie (2023)
  • Journal Issue
    Here Be Dragons. East Asian Film and Religion
    Media industry is a vibrant element of East Asian popular culture that has become increasingly important on a global level in the last decades. Japanese, and recently South Korean and Chinese films or TV series have a growing and worldwide audience not least because of easier access through streaming services. The many film productions provide a multifaceted arena of highly diverse content that spans nearly all aspects of the cultural developments in the countries. Religion has always played a major role in these contexts in various ways and in accordance with the highly diversified religious landscape of East Asia. Consequently, this issue brings together contributions on Japanese, Chinese and Korean films, including one additional glimpse to South Asia, thereby presenting portrayals of independent filmmakers, highly renowned classics, but also specimina of manga and anime, the cyberpunk genre, or on most recent highly successful streaming series. The admittedly tiny sample we can provide is intended to pique curiosity and encourage readers to delve deeper into the multifaceted and intriguing relationship between religion and media in Asia. If the presented contributions, which have been carefully selected, lead to academic discourse and inspire further research, then this issue will have served its purpose.
  • Article
    Now, Where Exactly Are the Dragons? Editorial
    Wessely, Christian; Winter, Franz; Yoshida, Yukihiko (2023)
  • Article
    Playing with Noah’s Animals. A Theological Analysis of Four Retro Video Games Called NOAH’S ARK
    Bosman, Frank (2023)
    A special genre has emerged in video games – Bible games. As a subset of the broader genre of Christian games – aimed at providing age- and faith-appropriate content for religious audiences and/or proselytizing non-believers to the Christian faith – the Bible games gamify their inspirational source material. Frequently, these games are considered inferior (“bad”) games, usually because of the ludonarrative dissonance in terms of gameplay and narrative. This article discusses four of these supposedly bad Bible games, all from the 1980s and 1990s and all using the biblical story of Noah’s ark as source material: Noah’s Ark by Enter-Tech (1982), the NES games Noah’s Ark (as a part of Bible Adventures) by Wisdom Tree and Noah’s Ark by Konami (1992), and finally the SNES game Super Noah’s Ark 3D by Wisdom Tree again. The article provides an overall comparison and analysis of the four in theological terms.
  • Article
    Sin and Divine Punishment. The Korean Series JIOK (HELLBOUND, KR 2021–), New Religious Movements, and a World Full of Guilt
    Winter, Franz (2023)
    The TV series JIOK (Yŏn Sang-ho, KR 2021–), internationally known as HELLBOUND, is a recent and highly successful series that has been available on the streaming platform Netflix since November 2021. It is usually described as a “dark mystery thriller” or “dark fantasy film”, which points to the general tone but also to its constant interplay with the “mysterious”. The plot revolves around the appearance of monstrous creatures who suddenly arrive out of nowhere and kill people in a most brutal and bloody way. All of those who are killed in this heinous manner have received a warning beforehand, delivered by “angels” foretelling their fate and their imminent death and introducing crucial topics such as “guilt” and “sin” as a reason for the whole procedure. The article introduces major topics of this series and focusses on the prominent role of a new religious movement that is intimately linked to major trajectories of the plot.
  • Review
    Song Review. Stromae, “Fils de joie”
    Merkert, Katharina Luise (2023)
  • Article
    The Representation of Rural Christianity in the Films of Gan Xiao’er
    Li, Jing (2023)
    The religious dimension of Chinese cinema is, it has been observed, a “triple lacuna” in contemporary scholarship: in research on religion in China, in research on Chinese cinema, and in interdisciplinary research on film and religion. From 2002 to 2012, independent filmmaker Gan Xiao’er directed three low-budget features that portrayed rural Christianity in China, a subject almost entirely absent from both Chinese mainstream media and independent films. In this article, I analyze Gan’s films by locating them in their social, political, and religious contexts, by comparing them with other Chinese films, and by linking them to the tradition of Western films that portray spirituality. I observe a progression in themes and style from Gan’s first feature, 山清水秀 (THE ONLY SONS, CN 2002), to his third, 在期待之中 (WAITING FOR GOD, CN 2012). I seek to show that Gan developed a restrained directorial style in order to connect with the spirituality of Chinese peasants. Although he had to grope in the dark on many aspects, his engagement with Christian themes has greatly expanded the narrative space of Chinese cinema.
  • Article
    The Spiritual Quest in Keisuke Itagaki’s Baki Series. A Synthesis of Eastern Religious Figures, Aesthetics, and Martial Arts in a Japanese Anime
    Soriano, Rehuel Nikolai (2023)
    The Baki series, created by Keisuke Itagaki, is a globally popular anime and manga franchise that has captivated audiences with its striking visual aesthetic and depic-tion of martial arts. However, despite its widespread popularity, there is a notable lack of scholarly research on the series, particularly in relation to its spiritual and philosophical themes. This article addresses this gap by offering a contextualized anal-ysis of Baki that explores the complex intersection of religion, aesthetics, and popular culture in Japanese society. Through an examination of the series’ representation of Eastern religious and philosophical traditions, this study provides insights into broad-er cultural attitudes towards masculinity, violence, and martial arts in Japan and the global community. By shedding light on the spiritual themes present in the Baki series, it contributes to the global discourse on popular culture, martial arts, and spirituality, offering a nuanced perspective on the multifaceted nature of Japanese culture and its influence on the wider world.
  • Article
    The Tamil Language as More Central than Even the Gods. The Movie THIRUVILAYADAL (IN 1965) Is an Outlier as a Devotional Film
    Gopalkrishnan, Sreeram; Sreeram, Lekshmi (2023)
    The narrow genre of devotional films in India follows a regular template – a combination of theophanic interventions, bhakti (devotional) worship and didactic narratives. THIRUVILAYADAL (THE DIVINE PLAY, Akkamappettai Paramasivan Nagarajan, IN 1965), a film in Tamil (a language spoken across South and East Asia by a large diaspora), was long considered a devotional movie that celebrated the God Shiva. However, a close analysis shows that the movie subverts the darshan concept (viewing) in a Hindu devotional film. Though it may appear to be a film about Puranic (mythic) Hindu gods, the subtle subtext reduces heavenly entities to supplicatory positions in relation to a cornerstone of identity in the post-independence Dravidianist Tamil State – Tamil language. This understanding of THIRUVILAYADAL is all the more relevant in light of the increasing rigidity of Hindu religious beliefs in contemporary India.
  • Article
    When the Devil Plays the Guitar and the Preacher Prays for Mercy. An Exploration of Two Filmic Portrayals of the Occult and Satanism in Rock Music
    Treiber, Fritz (2023)
    "The Devil is a catchy lyric." This quote from the movie AMERICAN SATAN (Ash Avildsen, US 2017), when Mr. Capricorn (the devil) promises international success to a young heavy-metal band in Los Angeles and its singer, Johnny Faust. The pact must be sealed with a human sacrifice. Linking rock or heavy metal with the devil or demonic powers is a theme that has been used repeatedly in music and film. In this article, two films from independent productions are analyzed to study how the devil reaches people through rock music and ultimately influences their actions. In addition, the temporal context and the events that affected the content of the screenplays are discussed.