Naruto and The Red Thread of Fate

 

 

I recently saw The Last: Naruto the Movie in theaters. Thought I’d share some quick thoughts.

Warning: minor spoilers ahead!

TheLastNarutomovie

Still with me? Good!

One of my favorite things about Japanese animation and comics is that on top of plot and characters, the stories tend to be very theme driven. And those themes are often reinforced with consistent symbolic imagery. One of the central images in The Last: Naruto The Movie is the “red thread of fate.” Longtime readers of Art-Eater (is there such a thing? :O) will already be familiar with this classical allusion when we first wrote about it as a central motif in Kill La Kill.

Read about it here!
Read about it here!

Continue reading “Naruto and The Red Thread of Fate”

The World We Must Defend: War, Peace and Pokemon

 

 

by Andy Lee

So the trailer the next generation of Pokemon is out!

I still remember the joy of getting Pokemon Blue on my birthday… and then I realize that was nearly 16 years ago. Pokemon has persisted … Read the rest

 

 

by Andy Lee

So the trailer the next generation of Pokemon is out!

I still remember the joy of getting Pokemon Blue on my birthday… and then I realize that was nearly 16 years ago. Pokemon has persisted since then, each generation bringing another 100 critters to collect (and more multimedia tie-ins), adding new gameplay elements, and also building upon its incredible lore. So let’s talk about that lore.

Every Pokemon generation has carried a core theme that shapes the story, setting, and legendary Pokemon to catch. But it’s the antagonists of each generation that really define what the game is about, and their theme builds upon the generation before them.

TEAM ROCKET
art-eater, ken sugimori, pokemon, team rocket drawing concept art illustration

 

Pokemon Red/Blue and Gold/Silver is about coming into conflict to attain powerful WEAPONS. The pokedex is full of colorful quips about the violent power of Pokemon able to melt steel with their breath or reduce buildings to rubble with a swing of their tail. From the Koga ninjas to Lt. Surge, we’re shown that Pokemon have fought alongside humans in conflicts ancient and recent, though there is peace in the present day. The image of Pokemon is softened through a trainer program where young kids are given Pokemon to treat as their friends and companions.

Enter Team Rocket, an underground organization that holds on to the archaic view that Pokemon are weapons to be wielded, and use them against their fellow man. When scientists obtain the genes of the phantom Pokemon Mew, they use its immense genetic potential to craft the ultimate weapon, Mewtwo. But its immense power proves uncontrollable, and the scientists are destroyed by their own creation. Continue reading “The World We Must Defend: War, Peace and Pokemon”

Ecce Mono: Art Restoration Revolution

ecce homo to ecce mono before and after cecelia gimenez art-eater

In August 2012, octogenarian outsider artist Cecilia Gimenez made a statement to the world with her innovative restoration of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), a beloved fresco by Elias Garcia Martinez enshrined in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Spain.  The original painting had eroded over the centuries, coming dangerously close to complete effacement. Working of her own accord, without the blessings of any authority other than her own faith, Gimenez took it upon herself to restore the painting, and breath new life into it in the process.  By creating the work as what some might call an act of vandalism, Gimenez combines the subversive spirit of graffiti street-culture with the reverence of religious tradition, reminding us of the revolutionary nature of Christianity, a faith that was outlawed in its early days.

Picture of the artist, Cecelia Gimenez from a BBC News interview

The unconventional nature of the restored painting tells a story.  The fringes of the painting are very faithful to the original, particularly in the cloth.  However, the painting becomes looser, more expressionistic as we move to the center.  This is reflective of how modern people have grown comfortable with the superficial window dressings of Christianity, yet tensions secretly boil at the core.  The original painting depicts Christ’s moment of doubt on the cross, as described in PSalm 22, where he wonders “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Gimenez gives this moment of agony a powerful contemporary spin by depicting Christ not as a handsome anglicized man as we’ve been conditioned to expect, but as an ape!

This is a reference to a lesser known line from Psalm 22, “but I am a worm, not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.” By depicting Christ with simian features, the piece smolders with the passion and agony of contemporary man, struggling to reconcile religion and science.  Are we the divine children of god or the discordant descendants of apes?  The lingering power of this question has lead contemporary worshipers to redub the fresco “Ecce Mono” or “Behold The Monkey.”

The painting daringly trails off at the mouth of Christ, left unfinished, imploring us to come to our own conclusion.  Though the words of the bible are to be venerated as the word of God, the final sermon has yet to be delivered. Though icons are beautiful expressions of faith, the real substance of Christianity is found in a personal communion with God, a cornerstone of Catholicism.

In modern times, we tend to think of religion as dogmatic, set in stones that were carved hundreds of years before our time.  With a few dexterous strokes of her self trained brush, Cecilia Gimenez cuts down this entropic notion and reminds us that the Church is a living, breathing thing, just as we are.

Since restoring Ecce Homo and putting her local Church on the map of the global art scene, Gimenez has been invited to restore many other classic works of Western art.

Art-Eater is pleased to present you with an exclusive preview of Cecelia Gimenez’s upcoming projects!

The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Ceiling
The Mona Lisa (El Mono Lisa)
The Kiss
The Scream Edvard Munch Edward reimagined Cecelia Gimenez art-eater
The Scream

 

Saturn Devouring His Children

The Great Ape (Oozaru)

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this Art-Eater article, check out my other ones in the side bar and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Cheers!

A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 3 – The Mighty Vajra

 

 

By Richmond Lee
With additional help from Andy Lee (thanks bro!)

Previous Entries:
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 1 – Buddhist Cyborgs and the story of the Asura
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts

Vajra (金剛)
In the earliest concept art released for the game, Asura is depicted standing ragged with his body pierced by various weapons adorned with Vajras.

asura's wrath, ashura, art-eater, concept art, vajras, vajra, buddhist, buddhism, weapons

The Vajra is an iconic symbol of Buddism, but not as well known in the West.

asura's wrath, ashura, art-eater, concept art, vajras, vajra, buddhist, buddhism, weapons

In Sanskrit it means both thunderbolt and diamond and bears their symbolic properties as an unbreakable weapon that slices through any substance with irresistible force.

Continue reading “A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 3 – The Mighty Vajra”

A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – Weapons – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts

 

 

By Richmond Lee
With additional help from Andy Lee

All Entries:
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 1 – Buddhist Cyborgs and the story of the Asura
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 3 – The Mighty Vajra!
Welcome to the second installment of A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath.  First off, I want to thank everyone who read and shared Part 1.  Because of your positive feedback and support, the article got the attention of Capcom and Cyberconnect 2 who reposted it on their website and Facebook page respectively.  It feels pretty great to get such positive reception from the creators of the game!

VALIDATION

The article then went on to be featured on Kotaku.

This has been very life affirming for me, so thanks for reading! Now on with the tour! Lets talk about Weapons!

Buddhist Weapons
The characters in Asura’s Wrath wage war using a mix of ancient and modern weapons. You could say the characters are quite … well armed (haha that was terrible!). Many of the weapons depicted in the game have special significance in Buddhism.

Shakujo (錫杖) – The Bishop’s Staff
The debut video for Asura’s Wrath opens with Asura being struck by a rain of spears:

The shape at the head of these projectiles indicates that they’re shakujos.

shakujo, khakkhara, monk's stick, staff, asura's wrath, pretas, weapons, buddhism, buddhist

Shakujos, also known as bishop’s staffs, monk sticks, xīzhàng (Mandarin) and khakkharas (Sanskrit) were originally walking sticks used by travelling monks originating in India.  The sticks were sometimes adorned with jangling rings that were used in prayer and telegraphed the approach of a holy man.  The sound of the rings could also be used to ward of dangerous animals and the stick could be used in self defense.  Over time the shakujo was incorporated into various religious rituals with the number of rings corresponding to the rank of the wielder.

In the hands of Shaolin monks, the Shakujo was developed into a ritual weapon.

shakujo, khakkhara, monk's stick, bishop's staff, shaolin, asura's wrath, pretas, weapons, buddhism, buddhist
In China, the Shakujo has long been romanticized as the weapon of choice of warrior monks through hundreds of years of Wuxia novels and more recently movies, tv shows, comics and games. This practice lives on in Japan (Zen Buddhism is the Japanese form of Chan Buddhism, the sect of Buddhism practiced in Shaolin) where people still train in fighting with Shakujos to this day.

shakujo, khakkhara, monk's stick, staff, asura's wrath, zen buddhists, training, japan, japanese, weapons, buddhism, buddhist Continue reading “A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – Weapons – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts”