For centuries, Christianity has had a role in the creation of some of the finest works of art. Any comprehensive discussion of art history has to include Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, and a host of other important paintings and sculptures from artists who don’t share their names with one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Speaking of art, there’s a new manga that’s just started in Japan. Looking at its earnest, wholesome heroine, you might get the impression that it’s like any of a hundred other series the country has produced, but this manga lead has something that makes her unique: she’s the literal embodiment of Puritan Christianity.
The vast majority of Japan’s population is pretty non-religious as far as day-to-day life is concerned. Most people, though, if pressed for an answer, would describe their faith as a mixture of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs, which is why it’s perfectly ordinary to have your wedding in a Shinto shrine but be buried in a Buddhist temple.
Japan does have a devout Christian community, though, which is sizable enough to warrant at least one weekly Christian newspaper. Called Christ Weekly, or Christ Shimbun in Japanese, the paper is published every Saturday, and has been informing readers on religious news for almost 70 years.
Its long history doesn’t mean the paper isn’t interested in trying anything new, though. That’s why in the April 4 edition of the Christ Weekly this young lady made her debut.
キリスト新聞 (@christweekly) March 23, 2015
Say hello to Pyuri-tan, whose name is a nod to the –tan suffix attached to the names of beloved anime characters (-tan being an even more saccharine version of the already affectionate –chan suffix). Of course, Pyuri-tan, who’s a junior high student, is pronounced just like “Puritan,” and she seems to look the part, with her sensible attire and modest hairstyle.
Pyuri-tan isn’t the only anthropomorphized denomination that will be showing up in the four-panel slice-of-life series. For example, in the strip on the left, we see her hanging out with her older brother, Protestant Reformist.
▼ We’re going to guess his friends call him Marty, or maybe Cal.
キリスト新聞 (@christweekly) April 02, 2015
However, Pyuri-tan’s comic strip won’t be featured in every edition of the paper, only the second and fourth volumes of each month. Even when she’s not around, though, there’s still a bit of manga-style appeal, in the form of the logo to the series of clergy-penned essays titled Kyokaiger (from Kyokai Ranger, or “Church Rangers”).
【伝道宣隊キョウカイジャー】現役牧師ら５人による「ぶっちゃけ」リレーエッセイが１周年。新キャラ「ゴールド」「総督」の参戦でますますパワーアップ！ キョウカイジャーが読めるのは「キリスト新聞」だけ。 http://t.co/JSBfCgH5tT—
キリスト新聞 (@christweekly) April 05, 2015
Even in an era where just about everything gets anthropomorphized, Pyuri-tan is standing out from the crowd. Religion doesn’t tend to have a major role in Japanese media, and as such, the character is attracting attention and comments online.
“You shouldn’t make light of others’ religious beliefs!”
“This is a problem waiting to happen…”
“I’m kind of digging this!”
“I think I’m gonna convert.”
Now we’re wondering, if Puri-tan’s popularity takes off, will we one day see her in a crossover with the manga Jesus and Buddha of Saint Young Men? Only time will tell.