The End (Ikki Tousen Style)
The September cover for Comic Gum sports Ryomoh Shimei from Ikki Tousen in this striking composition [click on it for a much larger size]:
I find this sort of thing very suggestive. There is a double heresy in this picture: a Western-Christian heresy superimposed on the core Eastern-Chinese heresy involved in transforming the heroic general Lü Meng into a voluptuous eye-patched submission expert.
Last time I talked about crosses in anime was when Haruhi-chan crucified Mikuru. Remember that? I saw a couple of instances on forums where people who pointed the religious imagery out were rebutted with: “Well, Jesus’ was not the only instance of crosses and crucifixion, why do you have to assume that the creators were thinking of Christianity when they did this??”
I guess that’s a somewhat valid point, although the image of the cross (even in Japanese eyes ) has been so identified with Christianity that even if the creator came to it by another route he is bound to think of IT and his or her work will resonate with IT in the eyes of spectators.
But to make it clear for you that the cross behind Ryomoh is not simply a fashion statement, let me point out the words to her left:
Transliterated, this reads: Anata o yurushimasu.
“Yurushimasu” means to forgive, and it’s usually written like this: 許します with a different starting kanji. Truth be told, I’d never run across 赦します and I had to look it up. Both are read “yurushimasu”, and evidently what the Japanese have done here (as they’ve done so often elsewhere) is take advantage of the wealth of Chinese characters out there to split an original Japanese word into different nuances.
So “yurushimasu” means to forgive, but 赦します is deeper and stronger than your usual 許します. Guess what’s the main (or one of the main AFAIK) uses of 赦します..? Yup, it’s used in the translation of the Catholic words “Ego te absolvo”. The full Japanese phrase is あなたの罪を赦します (=I forgive your sins, I absolve you of your sins) but あなたを赦します is perfectly acceptable (=I forgive/absolve you).
According to a Christian blogger who’s address I forgot to jot down [oops!), the difference is that to forgive someone with 許しますis to forgive them with and despite their faults whereas the forgiveness of 赦します actually atones for the faults or sins involved. Therefore the only one who can perform this second, far more powerful forgiveness is God (perhaps through one of His ministers).
Therefore in this cover Ryomoh, dressed up appropriately in priestly black, is telling us “Ego te absolvo” before a silver cross, an unmistakable association with Western religion Q.E.D.
So? Well, if you asked this question then know that it (the question itself) is the point: we’re reaching the end of boundaries, limits, meaning, religion, etc. That this is drawn and put it out there today is striking to me…
I also happen to think that it’s an excellent psychological portrait of Ryomoh, because it shows the ambivalence of strength and weakness that characterizes her. Being a submission expert, Ryomoh is all about taking control. She’s great at striking a pose, and yet we often see in her a tendency to lose control and be overwhelmed. The collar on her neck betrays submissiveness in the submission master. It’s not even clear whether she has handcuffed the cross or whether she is handcuffed to it.