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The slippery slope between Mormons, ex-Mormons, and Bleach

July 3, 2009
Surprise. This is about manga!

Surprise. This is about manga!

Sorry. I wanted to have a misleading topic on purpose.

Today, I really wanted to talk about Tite Kubo’s manga Bleach. Why? Because 1, posting pics of manga characters results in a surge of traffic. And 2, for the past summer and this one, I’ve been obsessed. Last summer, I watched the anime until I got to the Bounto arc (which I promptly skipped as the filler it was)…and this summer, I’ve picked up again, this time going by the manga. And so, as I’ve read this time, I’ve noticed an intriguing comparability between pluses/wholes, minuses/menoses/hollows, Vizard/Visoreds and Arrancars, and Mormons, Ex-Mormons and Anti-Mormons. So maybe you won’t be disgusted yet.

I guess I’ll give you some preface information, if you don’t realize. Bleach is a shonen (basically, young boy’s action series — don’t laugh, I’m not too old for kid’s things) manga (comic) about spiritual guardians named shinigami (death gods or, in the English version, “Soul Reapers”) and other people who are so spiritually attuned giving proper burials to rogue souls that wander around. Because, you see, when a person, thing, whatever dies, it either becomes a plus/whole (depending on if you’re reading/watching in Japanese or English) or it becomes a minus/hollow/menos (Bleach has a fascination with Spanish). As you can probably guess, “wholes” are good spirits who will eventually find peace in the afterlife in the Soul Society, and “hollows” are spirits with some bone to pick. So, shinigami have to give “hollows” their proper burials, turning them into wholes.

So arrancar like this one can remove part of their masks for power

So arrancar like this one can remove part of their masks for power

This is the basic concept. I mean, the show and manga quickly become much more than that, because you know…Artists gotta sell books!…but the concept remains the same. In later episodes/chapters, to show the exponential growth of power (as a rule, all shonen must have exponential power growths — see Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh, Naruto, etc.,) Tite Kubo come up with more fancy and cool looking things for hollows to do…for example, particularly powerful hollows can remove their skull masks and become human-looking “arrancar” (Spanish for…you guess it: to tear off). Meanwhile, certain good souls (like the shinigami) who have endured certain kinds of trauma can be at risk at becoming a hollow, but if they learn to control their hollows inside, then they can put on their skull masks and become vizards (which is the poor romaji transliteration for what is supposed to be the English word “visored.”)

So, my first pic up there is the main character of Bleach. He has had such a traumatic experience, but of course, he has learned to control his inner hollow and can now use Visored strength at will. My next pic? An arrancar.

The fun thing about these groups is how they are alienated. Visored once were shinigami (good guys), but since becoming Visoreds have been shunned (since technically, hollows are supposed to be evil.) However, they still SPOILER! come in the nick of time to save the good guys against the evil Arrancar’s elite troops the Espada (Spanish for sword) and their henchmen the fracciones (fraction). Not to mention the Arrancar are led by shinigami who betrayed their allies and fled to Hueco Mundo (Hollow World) and who want to topple the leadership of the Soul Society.

Is she good...or evil?

Is she good...or evil?

Where am I going with this? Well, I was just thinking, within recent events, li’l ole me has been accused of anti-mormonism. And I thought I could make it grander than it is by comparing myself and others to comic book heroes.

The Mormon church and its Priesthood want to represent the Shinigami and Soul Society. They want to be the good guys, but as within Soul Society, there is questionable activity going on. Soul Society matches nicely with the idea of the Spirit World (down the missionary work and baptisms for the dead still going on in the Spirit World) Hueco Mundo being Outer Darkness (with some of the prime ones going to Hueco Mundo being those who had a fulness of what Soul Society had to offer but rebelled anyway), but then you just add ideas of judgment, add in a Christ figure, and there you go. Mormonism.

Many would like to say that ex-Mormons (especially those who dare continue talk and blog!) must be anti-Mormons. It’s like Soul Society’s “banishment” of the Vizards for being “hollowfied.” But the main cast of characters can see that really, the enemy are the Arrancar.

And so, I think the Vizard/Visored have to deal in a struggle like many ex-mormons must do. We can’t be neutral (what’s the quotation members always love to bring?) and yet most of us most certainly are not on the anti- side. However, we cannot be understood by the faithful member side, with a few exceptions. Similarly, even as we try to survive and live on, the fact remains that our experiences and trauma do linger. We have hollows inside us that, if we do not keep them under control, can turn us fully into insensible and beastly monsters.

So in the end, what do you know? I guess you can learn stuff from kids’ comics! If nothing else, you learned some Spanish.

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4 Comments
  1. Justin permalink

    I’m not a mormon nor do I know much about ex-mormons being persecuted. But I do think Bleach is wicked awsome and I gotta say, your ramblings have officially just blown my frickin’ mind! Keep it up!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Justin!

    I hope to blow more minds in the future, but I guess it’ll be tough to live up to.

  3. Seth R. permalink

    Geez, if you were going to do an anime arc, at least go with something cool, like Cowboy Bebop, or Baccano, or even Blade of the Immortal. Or Spice and Wolf or Toradora – to name a couple of my wife’s favorites.

    Bleach?

    I mean, honestly…

  4. The problem is that the Mormon/ex-Mormon/anti-Mormon triangle isn’t cool enough for the supercool animes

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