Jolyon Thomas, "Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan" (U Hawaii Press, 2012)

Listen on the New Books Network:


The worlds of cinema and illustrated fiction are replete with exciting data for the historian of religion. Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (University Of Hawai'i Press, 2012), by author Jolyon Thomas, sets up a robust theoretical model for examining how the concept of religion is deployed in these mediums. Thomas outlines how the category religion can be understood within the Japanese context and various reasons why religious markers and themes are reproduced in manga and anime culture. His detailed illustration of the typologies of the manga/anime/religion nexus is achieved through both narrative analysis of illustrated fiction and film, as well as ethnographies of digital and material environments. In our conversation we discussed the production and marketing elements of manga, its uses for proselytization, some ritualized responses of audiences, famous authors and their works, such as Tezuka Osamu's Buddha, religious movements derived from manga and anime culture, the religiously nationalistic elements of Kobayashi Yoshinori's On Yasukuni and On the Emperor, the filmic career of Miyazaki Hayao, and the role of manga in Aum Shinrikyo's rise and fall.

Your Host

Kristian Petersen

Kristian Petersen is an Associate Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at

View Profile