Religious Interpretations of Eden of the East

messiah-of-eden?

Beware: herein lies a ton of pseudo-intellectual religious interpretation crap.

I think Eden of the East takes well to having itself interpreted in a religious light; this is not, I believe, even remotely a mistake, as I think the creators very deliberately have included religious imagery and allusions in the show thus far. However, what I’m taking away from it may not be what was intended, and some of it I’m fairly certain is not the intended interpretation at all. This sort of brings us up against the idea of modern versus post-modern approaches to creative works; in the post-modern iteration, it is what one takes from it that matters, regardless of the creators intentions. On the other hand, the modern approach believes that the creator’s intent is what matters in consuming the media – yes, you may have your own interpretation of it, but, honestly, that interpretation has no bearing really beyond your personal feelings, and it is arrogant to insist that it does.

This is all admittedly a bit muddled; I’ve been writing a paper about terrorism for the past few hours, and am running on fumes at this point and doing this for the sheer fun of intellectual pursuit. As such, I feel no real compulsion to make it entirely clearly thought out and such.

As part of my academic studies, I’ve been consuming a terrifying amount of apocalyptic literature of the modern variety; specifically, literature which takes its cues from the premillenialist dispensationalist school of interpretation of the Biblical book of Revelation (it may or may not be worth mentioning that this ideology uses the King James Version of the Bible, and denies the validity of any other translation).

Let me briefly outline what this ideology believes, as I think it is largely not understood outside of the segment of the American population (for it is largely an American movement) which believes in it. The crib notes version of it is as such: The book of Revelation is the inerrant word of God, and thus must be taken literally. What is outlined in it will occur to the exact letter, and it is not meant to be read allegorically. Jesus will return in a period called the Rapture, and at this time all of his true followers will be taken up to heaven to be with him. This begins the period of the Tribulation, which will last seven years. During this time, those ‘left behind’ will have the chance to convert to Christianity and thus be saved. Those who don’t will follow the anti-Christ, who will become the dictator of the world and basically make life pretty crappy for Christians. Overall, though, everyone will suffer brutally during this period, as the judgments of God fall upon us in the form of such things as worldwide earthquakes, firestorms, and devastating asteroid strikes. At the end, Jesus will come back and lead Christians into battle against the anti-Christ and his forces of evil, and will triumph; the losers get tossed into the lake of fire to burn for a thousand years, at which time Satan will have a resurgence and have the final-final battle. Jesus and his followers will obviously win, and then we shall all be blissfully, blissfully happy.

It is worth noting that there are a lot of Biblical scholars who disagree very heavily with this, for such reasons as the fact that there is really not any Biblical evidence for the notion of the Rapture. There are also other interpretations of the book of Revelation, such as preterism, which holds that these events have already occurred since, for instance, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century A.D., which was ‘predicted’ in Revelation. There are also schools of thought which believe the entire thing to be an allegory, ultimately. But, I’m not looking at those.

Within this framework, Akira basically is getting set up as the anti-Christ. Some other bloggers have made note of there being twelve members of Selecao, and twelve disciples of Jesus; instead, I’ll contend that the twelve represent the ten kings of Earth mentioned in Revelation, with Akira as the anti-Christ and the twelfth person operating as the false prophet, also mentioned in Revelation (sort of – within the premillenialist dispensationalism ideology there is a definite false prophet). I know some of you are already getting hot under the collar over this, so I would again stress that I’m really just narcing out on my own need to mess around in seriously obscure crap when interpreting things.

Of the ten ‘kings’, a.k.a. the Selecao who are not either the false messiah or false prophet, three will attempt to oppose to the anti-Christ, and suffer death due to it. We see in the OP that three of the Roman numerals representing Selecao members disappear from the group, lending some credence to this interpretation. Kondou has already done so, and he truly was trying to work in opposition to Akira, for he attempted to take over his cell-phone and failed utterly. Yes, he was killed by his angry wife, not by Akira, but his actions both ran opposite to Akira’s best interests and led directly to his death.

The desire to re-make society is present in Eden of the East, as the purpose of the organization behind the Selecao is apparently to make Japanese society better. One of the reasons some members of the far right in America are so allergic to the United Nations and other such organizations is due to their belief that these will be the tools which bring about world government, something which to them reads as implicitly the work of the devil. The rhetoric of the United Nations is one of trying to make the world a better place; so is the message of the Selecao (or what little we’ve gotten thus far). This is viewed with suspicion by believers because world government is supposed to come as the tool of the anti-Christ, and will necessarily involve positive rhetoric and promises of better and better living for humans, while truly just tricking people and making the world an awful place.

Selecao’s method of bringing about societal change is a crap-shoot of twelve messiah candidates, essentially. They are a purely human organization, and yet they grant god-like powers to their candidates, setting them up as savior figures. The central ‘fact’ of the anti-Christ is that he or she will make claims to divinity, which is exactly where Selecao is going with their candidates.

However, honestly, Eden of the East probably only seeks a very basic interpretation through the Christian lens – that Akira is being set up as a Christ-like figure. The OP certainly seems to encourage this, what with its heavy use of on-screen text, much of which directly speaks of being saved, messiahs, and fallen angels. There being twelve would-be messiahs like him, including himself, doesn’t seem to point in the direction of the twelve disciples of Jesus, though, since this leaves us without the savior himself… unless there is going to be such a character who has yet to make an appearance.

Of course, if Akira is being set up as a Christ-figure, that means he has to die…

To return somewhat to the anti-Christ thing, one could still see Akira as an anti-Christ-figure by dint of his promotion by the Selecao as a messiah. In this case, though, he becomes one through his organization’s posturing, not his own actions, and it leaves room for him to redeem himself and ultimately transcend the ‘anti’ portion of the label. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the show take this course, as it already seems to be leaning that way since Akira’s been discovering he probably wasn’t a very pleasant person prior to his memory loss, since, y’know, trapping twenty-thousand people and then taking grinning pictures with them in the background before doing something to get rid of them permanently is such a lovely thing to do.

Anyway, I think that pretty much wraps up my gas-bagging. Take of it what you will. I am just hoping it turns out that Akira’s organization is some crazy religious cult, since I’m a raging loser who love love loves picking apart religious allusions in any form of media.

TL;DR version: OMG AKIRA IS LIEK TEH ANTI-CHRIST~!!1

For those of you who did make it through, hope you enjoyed my need to ignore common sense and go completely off on a tangent vis-a-vis Eden of the East’s possible religious referencing.

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