You’ve probably read many posts about which anime to watch in celebration of Halloween. I missed the boat on that, but Halloween is actually part of a three day observance. An alternate name for Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve, referring to it being the night before All Saints’ Day. Today, after All Saints’ Day, comes All Souls’ Day.
And so, we ought to be thinking about the afterlife over the course of these days. While Halloween’s original purpose in time immemorial may have been for people to prepare for All Saints’ Day, the ghoulish costumes along with the emphasis on horror movies in October brings to mind hell rather than heaven. On November 1st, we think of the blessed in heaven. Today, we think instead of the poor souls who yet await the final cleansing of their souls before they enter the Pearly Gates.
The holy souls in purgatory are often called poor souls; yet, they have more than a few reasons for joy. Their salvation lies secure and cannot be lost. Every movement bringing them closer to heaven brings joy beyond imagining. The saints and their guardian angels often visit to console them. If we all do our duty towards these souls, they feel our love in the prayers and penance we offer in their stead. Purgatory is not all suffering; though, these pains are indeed most intense.
Even as some people find the concept of hell horrid, people also think the same of purgatory; yet, purgatory was established by God’s mercy and gives us another avenue of showing our fellow men mercy. No doubt, when these holy souls join the choir of heaven, they shall in turn offer prayers for us who still endure the ups and downs of the drama of salvation. “Affliction is a treasure,” as the great poet John Donne wrote in his “Meditation 17.”
Protestants and Catholics differ on the need for purgatory. Both claim that the merits of Christ are applied to the deceased for their purification. However, the Protestant claims that the purification is instant, while the Catholic argues that it is gradual according to the temporal punishment still owed the Divine justice. Then, out come the Bibles, books of the Church Fathers, and other authorities to debate the issue!
My introduction has been overlong. Let me simply state that below are anime which portray themes involving ghosts, purification, and the unbreakable bond of love between those living and dead–quite in the spirit of this feast day!
1) Angel Beats
Here’s a charming show which has introduced countless souls to anime. Our hero wakes up to find himself in a strange world and is immediately taken under the wing of a young lady with a sniper rifle. It turns out that he has died and this place is for young people who die without fulfilling their dreams or with a lasting regret. If you watch this, you’re in for some likable characters, gut-busting comedy, and some poignant scenes.
2) Haibane Renmei
I have yet to complete this show. Other fans tell me that it’s a beautiful story and that I need to watch it. It appears likely that this anime is a metaphor for purgatory. Alright! I promise to begin watching it anew and to finish this show before the month’s out!
This show deals very much with the purification of spirits, the need for souls to be pure, and how sin taints the soul. Iblessall wrote a great post on how the ideas expressed in the anime bring to mind many Catholic teachings on sin–despite the Shinto exterior of the setting. Those who watch Noragami are in for some great action, comedy, and very likable characters.
Our heroine can see spirits–a trait her friends have gotten used to but which greatly troubles a new transfer student. These characters are very easy to love, and, as humorous as this high school anime gets, it has some powerful scenes on the enduring nature of love.
This counts as the only on-going series on this list. Rinne comes from the pen of Rumiko Takahashi. Accordingly, it includes many commonalities with her prior works. Despite my fear that it would be a carbon copy of Inuyasha, this anime does not feel trite. It follows the hero, a shinigami named Rinne, as he purifies spirits and sends them back to the Wheel of Reincarnation–often with the help of his classmate Sakura Mamiya.
As a side note, one gets the feeling that Rumiko Takahashi does not care for Buddhism. A very big part of what makes hell hell in Rinne has to do with not being reincarnated if one gets sent there. While, of course, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist is to escape the cycle of death and rebirth. I might write more about this later.
Here is another show which I have stalled watching. This supernatural anime deals with letter carriers who deliver messages from the dead to those still living. It’s a very dark show, which gives off a vibe similar to Kino’s Journey. Even though no purification of souls takes place, it still shows the living and the dead as being connected.
7) Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (aka Dusk Maiden of Amnesia)
This show went under a lot of people’s radar–though less so than Shigofumi. A female ghost haunting a high school befriends a student and his friends, leading to hilarity, romance, and fanservice. After the first half, the show turns dark and serious as our hero must find a way make his ghostly friend whole before she vanishes from his life. The drama can keep one on the edge of their seats and I wrote one of my favorite posts on it.
What shows call to mind the idea of purgatory among my dear readers?