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The Manga Magic System You Didn't Know You Loved

Updated: Jan 26

What is it about Japanese and Eastern storytelling that stands out from Western cultural tales?


There are a handful of differences that English readers may find appealing, but today we are uncovering the spiritual side. Let's start with quizzing your vocabulary. Are you familiar with Shintoism? How about Hermetic Alchemy? Chinese Deification?

悪魔の時代 | the beast within manga the underrealm - Unija EEOTB

Would it surprise you if the following list of stories use the same magic system - or can you sense the narrative theme threading the connections of these diverse titles?

  • Final Fantasy VII

  • Legend of Zelda

  • Fullmetal Alchemist

  • Chainsaw Man

  • Jujutsu Kaisen

  • Jiang Ziya

  • Princess Mononoke

  • Eclipse Era of the Beast

  • Bleach

  • Heaven Official’s Blessing


The Main Idea: All Things Are Connected in a System of Balance and Exchange


If you've watched video essays like that of Good Blood's OCARINA OF TIME - A Masterclass In Subtext - you may have already realized this shared theme.


OCARINA OF TIME - A Masterclass In Subtext

In Japanese storytelling, there is a more intimate connection between the main character and all things. There is a sense of romantic whimsy not as deeply captured in American media. This "lightning in a bottle" is depicting the lightning of the soul - and how it interacts with the world of soul force around it.


At least, this is my theory on what allures us to this type of narrative. Something we crave that we are starving for. To be connected.

jujutsu kaisen magic manga system

Manga Magic Systems - A Universal Language of Connection


Shintoism

Shinto revolves around supernatural entities called the kami (神). The kami are believed to inhabit all things, including forces of nature and prominent landscape locations. A key theme in Shinto is the avoidance of kegare ("pollution" or "impurity"), while ensuring harae ("purity"). In Japanese thought, humans are seen as fundamentally pure. Kegare is therefore seen as being a temporary condition that can be corrected through achieving harae. Rites of purification are conducted so as to restore an individual to "spiritual" health and render them useful to society. | source


tower of god - the creation of All, manga eeotb
The Birth of All Things

Hermetic Alchemy

In the religio-philosophical Hermetica, the ultimate reality is called by many names, such as God, Lord, Father, Mind (Nous), the Creator, the All, the One, etc. | source | Alchemy is the study and practice of the connection between the MIND and the All, through the 12 principals of reality. Through the Gnosis of reality comes understanding.


truth weavers manga eeotb deity elder
A Great Weaver Celestial Spirit

Deification of Spirits

"Deified mortals and gods. The when (a Chinese concept) are associated with the yang (bright, active) aspect of the cosmos and with the higher, spiritual component of the human soul.hen depends on adequate ritual offerings" | source


"Cultivation stories basically discuss the idea (often using the cultural idea of ‘cultivating’ to gain immortality) via progressing one’s soul / body / state of being"| source


If you look closely, you'll see this set of systems used in all the above listed, and much more. Could it be, that the manga magic systems are what is driving you to read more Japanese stories?


What is it that resonates with you?

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