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What can manga and anime tell us about the position of religion in contemporary Japanese society? Is religion fading into obscurity, as some observers claim, or is it being preserved and revitalized through the influence of popular culture, as others would have it? Using examples from recent manga and anime and drawing on several years of fieldwork in Tokyo, this talk explores how these immensely popular media both reflect and influence Japanese religious attitudes and practices. Manga and anime introduce audiences to traditional religious images and ideas, but market pressures, popular opinion, and authorial license inexorably affect how ostensibly “religious” characters (the Buddha and Jesus, for example) and events (apocalypse or enlightenment) are portrayed and interpreted. While substantive connections between manga, anime, and religion exist, such connections lie not in whether traditional religions “survive” through the positive influence of manga and anime, but rather in how audiences weave illustrated stories into their daily lives as guides for living or as models for ritual behavior.
The material Thomas will be presenting comes from his  book *Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan*.
DATE:  November 12, 2013
LOCATION:  Riddick Hall, Room 451, NCSU
TIME:  4:30pm

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