There are few things that cannot be incorporated and twisted around for fun purposes in anime. One used fairly often is western religion, mostly Catholicism. I can totally see why: the symbols, rituals and paraphernalia, the powerful but secretive organisation and not to mention the clothes: I mean, men in long flowing robes, funny hats, strange ornaments all that jazz. There are a lot of anime series with churchly elements, and I have only stumbled upon a few, but I like it a lot. And the priestly fathers I list here are hardly the meek and mild sort, more like seriously disturbing (or disturbed)…
Frau in 07-Ghost
Frau in his bishop garb with the cute little hat and perky veil.
You could watch this for the clothes alone, if there was a best-dressed award for anime this one would take the cake. Everything from the stylish black uniforms of the imperial army with their gold trimmings, shiny boots and long coats, to the bishops’ even more sweeping robes and tiny hats with little perky veils is lovely.
Other things that makes this a great watch is the bishops’ fighting with magic through their croziers (bacculus)! And there is even a bishop’s exam where you not just have to know the Holy Scripture by heart – it’s not just one book, more like a hundred – but also fight the evil with your bacculus.
Then, you might be a bishop and get a pretty back piece tattoo of a churchly cross. There are evil priests, and good ones, and quite a lot of grim reapers (western style) and then there is bishop Frau, who is hiding porn magazines in the church library, drives an airborne bird-scooter like a bat out of hell, smokes, flirts and drinks. He’s of course one of the good guys, and more than he seems (almost everyone in the story is). The anime is only 25 episodes, sadly enough, but the manga goes on much longer (and is much funnier too). And almost everyone is too pretty, even the bad guys, who are cuter, cooler and prettier than most. But none as much as Frau, who stays number one in my book (the holy bishonen one).
Abel Nightroad in Trinity Blood
Father Abel Nightroad is not only a priest; he’s also a (Vatican-enabled) vampire-killing “super vampire”. And in the world of this anime he’ll never get out of work, since vampires have taken over more than half the countries. This is a perfect mix of steampunk and religion. And then there’s the pope, a somewhat oblivious little cute boy, and his sister, the cardinal Catharina Sforza (!), who is wearing fantastic hats. Yes, sister. The normal biases of Rome does not exist here, or maybe it’s just going back to the historical roots where popes had children and conflicts often were solved with poison. There is intrigue, politics, powerful vampires, quite a bit of blood and fighting. I like the both the background story and the premises.
Marian Cross in D.Gray-Man
It took me two attempts to really get this one. And I’ve re-watched it a couple of times since. Still don’t like the monsters, they feel too simplistic and crude and could be more demonic, at least in the beginning. Later on, they are maybe a bit too destructive. But the premises are ok. It’s steampunky, with lots of Victoriana, machines and such. The exorcist organization the Black Order working under the Vatican or possibly running the church, Japan completely overrun by demons, and whatnot. The most charming and unholy of the holy exorcists are protagonist Allen Walker’s drinking and womanizing master, General Marian Cross. He often vanishes, leaving droves of charmed women in his wake and his apprentice (Allen) has to cover his considerable drinking tabs or gambling debts (Allen got better at it when he learned how to cheat at cards). Marian also has a tendency to throw Allen into fights against huge monsters without helping him. The story also has cool magic, called “innocence” and a quite complex background story. And lots and lots of adorable characters, not least the cute protagonist Allen Walker, surly samurai Kanda Yu, hammer-wielding Lavi and his boss Bookman, who fights using acupuncture needles and about one million others. The bad guys are the Noah family, yes that Noah. I do love this, does it show?
Alexander Anderson in Hellsing
It’s been a long time since I saw Hellsing, and I don’t really remember much except that I thought it was really cool. But I hadn’t seen much anime by that time. I did remember that the church is a big part of this one too, except the Vatican are the antagonists in this series, and the main protagonist is Alucard, a vampire, working for the Hellsing organization, led by a formidably cool woman. And Hellsing is of course named for the old Dr. van Helsing of Bram Stoker fame. Anyway, the main antagonist is Father Alexander Anderson, who throws out bible quotes and hates Alucard almost as much as he hates protestants.
Genjo Sanzo in Saiyuki
I could write books about my love for Saiyuki, and I did actually write a little bit more here. But this is about Genjo Sanzo. He’s a highly ranked Buddhist monk, but I think he’s comes out as something of an atheist too during the series. He’s a highly irritable, chainsmoking, drinks constantly and has a dangerous habit of shooting bullets in all directions to make people shut up or listen. He’s a darling, of course, somewhere down under the abrasive (but oh so pretty) surface there is a heart of gold. But he might threaten to shoot you or possibly swallow his own tongue rather than admit it. Or if he really likes you he might hit you over the head with a paper fan or tell you to get him another can of beer.
Kevin Cecil in Makai Ouji: Devils and realist
The realist in the story is young William Twining, and it takes place in a British public school for boys. Kevin works at William’s estate, managed by his uncle since he’s an orphan. He also a descendant of Solomon who had power over 72 demons. William now has to decide the next ruler of hell, since Lucifer is asleep. Different demons come to William and try to make him elect them, some of them even poses as students. William, the realist, doesn’t believe in demons, even after eating really delicious cake in Hell, made by Baphomet, the goat-headed butler of the charming demon lord Dantalion. Kevin Cecil is not a real priest, in fact he’s not even Kevin Cecil. But he poses as a school chaplain. And there is nothing unholy about him, since his real identity is Uriel, the archangel of repentance. Why is he on this list? The angels are not the good guys in this anime, far from it. Uriel has only one wing; the archangel Michael, who seems more like the villain than the demons, ripped the other off. Of course the demons are not so good either. And Kevin seems to have a good heart, but does some pretty shady things in the name of heaven (or by Michael’s orders). When I look at my anime collection I think there will be an angels and demons anime list soon.