Spirit World in Anime/Manga

Beings from the spirit world are everpresent in Anime (and Manga). Miyazaki’s movies masterpieces (I haven’t seen a bad one to date) like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away strongly feature spirits.

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In Princess Mononoke, it’s basically all about spirits: the movie begins with an attack on a village let by the boar God Nago. Ashitaka is eventually cursed by Nago and as he journeys to find a cure for his curse, he mets San and all the spirits of the forest.

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Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro (renamed Sen by Yubaba) as she has to work in a bathhouse for … spirits. There she meets up with Haku (the spirit of river Kohaku) whom she frees him from Yubaba’s grasp and ‘No face’.

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Gillian

The same can be said of the popular series that are being (or have been) broadcasted. Bleach, for example, is all about spirit – Ichigo (the main character) is permanently in the spiritual world and even becomes a “part-time” shinigami (Death God) – his job as a shinigami is to send souls to the Soul Society. Yet, all anime do not feature spirits the same way. The shinagamis of Death Note are quite peculiar: they look more like a bunch of punks keen on gambling🙂 have as job to decide when and how someone should die. Though spirits (or characters) from different anime tend to look alike, they are quite different – a Gillian type Menos in Bleach is certainly no ‘No face’.

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All this (to me) seems like the Kami that we have in the Shinto religion – except for the shinigami stuff which I’ve heard has been imported from Europe. Am I right? Well I’m not “into” Japan that much to answer but the Japanese Culture and its influence on anime does fascinate me.

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