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?
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
Eclipse Era of the Beast
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.
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.
Manga Magic Systems - A Universal Language of Connection
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
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.
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?