Another Fad from Japanese Animators
by Berit Kjos
Skip to The Spirit Behind the Force
Click here to see: DigiMonsters, Digi-battle instructions, and Digi-battle cards
Stories behind television episodes
Fox Kids Television explains that: "Seven kids at summer camp are unexpectedly transported by 'digivices' to a colorful and enigmatic world. Lost and alone, they are befriended by small digital monsters, Digimons. The kids and their Digimon partners quickly become inseparable, and the little creatures guide their human friends through the wondrous DigiWorld, protecting them from the hordes of evil Digimons."
DigiMon Virtual Pet Page: "DigiMon was originally called by several other names including: Digital Demon, Digi Demon, Digital Monster, and Tama-Hawk.... Digimon is a linkable fighting pet by Bandai.... The pet is similar to other keychain virtual pets, except these are raised to fight and kill."
"My son said that he doesn't have any friends to play with, because they all like to play DigiMon," wrote a concerned mother, "and he doesn't like to play that game. From what I can see, it looks very similar to Pokemon."
She is right. Children with the courage to say "no" to Pokemon face a new challenge: a parallel set of cute-ugly monsters, battle cards, digital games, and television episodes. Like the Pokemon creatures, the Digital monsters can be good or bad. But if they are bad, it's not their fault. The introduction to the Fox Kids series explains why:
"The group soon discovers that some of the giant Digimons they encounter are not evil Digimons but good Digimons gone bad. A dark power is corrupting even the most gentle of Digimons by embedding Black Gears into them, turning them into vicious monsters. Creating chaos and destruction wherever it goes, the evil power threatens all of DigiWorld.""As they try to find their way back home, the seven kids are drawn further and further into the mystery. Through teamwork and trust, they help their newfound Digimon friends digivolve from 'monsters in training' to giant champions that must save the DigiWorld from the powerful evil intent on destroying it."
Every Digimon has unique strengths and weaknesses, and the battle cards  shows the specific ways players can use their monsters to defeat an enemy. Like MewTwo and other psychic Pokemon, many transmit supernatural power. Some can evolve or transform (a Native American shaman might call it "shape-shifting"). You can watch a few of these transformations at toy maker Bandai's website.
One of these shape-shifting evolutions shows how the cute pig-like Patamon becomes Angemon -- a muscular and majestic male angel with power to defeat all kinds of vicious enemies. (Yes, in contrast to the earlier quote, some digimon are inherently evil.) He and his shapely female partner may stand as moral judges, prosecuting and punishing the worst perpetrators of evil. Sounds almost Biblical doesn't it?
But don't let the angelic assault on digital evils deceive you. Remember, a good counterfeit is far more dangerous to truth than a bad imitation. While the Digimon world appeals to young thrill-seeking TV viewers in every land, it carries traits from the culture that created it. Different kinds of angels fit into most of the world's religions, and these digital, evolving angels have nothing to do with Christianity -- even when they fight the most devilish-looking creatures.
"I saw a digimon wrap-up, where they say all that happened in that episode, and it was talking about how a digimon named Angemon defeated another digimon named Devimon," said Derek Wilson, a Christian father who had watched the show with his son. "I personally thought it was pretty strange."
Those who base their views of reality on the Bible will indeed find the digiworld strange. But to many young digifans, this weird world of supermonsters becomes more comfortable than reality. In today's world of bewildering high tech wonders, the supernatural feats of human and digital heroes may even feel normal while ordinary earth-bound days seem boring.
Today's emphasis on soaring imaginations frees kids to do just that: soar like superman into an imaginary world without parents. Helping with dishes and cleaning the yard has to wait. Such demeaning jobs clash with the digifan vision of power and their mission to save two worlds.
Identifying with the TV characters, children cross that mystical line between the earth and the digital world at will. That is, unless an evil monsters -- such as Devimon, the "ruler of the bad Digimon" -- threatens lives or holds a team-member captive. If so, the more psychically attuned kids will walk through walls, float into the air, transmit power through their hands, and use mental telepathy as well as digital technology to communicate with each other. Supernatural power -- manipulated at the whim and will of a child -- wins the day.
"But that's no worse than the old books and fairy tales we used to read," some might argue. Perhaps not, but back when today's parents were reading those mystical tales they were usually isolated from the reality behind the mystical stories. Unlike today's children, they couldn't surf the Internet for a group of practicing psychics or find occult formulas for magic and spell casting in their school library.
As the nations of the world gradually ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, parents will not even have the legal right to stop their children from joining occult groups or reading their manuals. Instead, schools and communities will pressure children to participate in all kinds of "multicultural" rituals and celebrations in order to break down barriers to global oneness. (See The U.N. Plan For Global Control)
THE SPIRIT BEHIND THE FORCE. The USA is the world's biggest exporter of decadent and occult entertainment, but every nation involved in today's mind-changing amusement industry sells its beliefs and biases along with its product. Japan's entertainment is colored by its religious roots, spiritual practices, and warrior traditions. No wonder Digimon -- like Pokemon, DragonBall, and other Japanese games and cartoons -- reflects a society rooted in a unique blend of religions and disciplines.
While shamanism reigned in early Japan, Shintoism and Buddhism have dominated the spiritual landscape for centuries. Most Japanese see no problem in blending the two sets of rituals, gods, goddesses and Bodhisattwas, A typical home displays both a Shinto family shrine and the Buddhist family altar, and it's not unusual for Buddhist priests to chant their sutras at Shinto shrines. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, ancient Chinese Confucianism still guides private and public morality.
These three religions share a common belief. In the midst of the diverse rites and traditions, most Japanese trust in a pantheistic force called Ki:
"The concept of Ki is one of the most important in Japanese philosophy. It directly concerns everyone's daily life, since it is nothing less than the vital energy of that life. In Chinese philosophy, the equivalent concept is known as Qi (Ch'i), an energy whose 'home' is the Dantian point located below the navel.... As the concept of Ki is found that the root of all Japanese activities, it is also found at the root of all the martial arts. The nature of this universal and fundamental energy is such that it penetrates everywhere, uniting all the manifestations of the universe, visible or invisible. It is a creative energy, the divine 'breath' in every being, which... can, according to certain writers, be projected outside oneself. " (Emphasis added)
Japanese martial arts shows the intimate union between the above spirituality and the lingering effects of the old Samurai warrior culture. Before and during World War II, students of all ages were steeped in these warrior traditions and trained in martial arts disciplines. The result was a fierce loyalty to the vision of ethnic supremacy and to the emperor as a god. Nothing illustrates the Japanese fighting spirit and tolerance of violence better than the horrors of the Japanese occupation of Nanking and the suicide missions of Kamikaze pilots during World War II. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,
The sword exercised a potent influence on the life of the Japanese nation. The distinction of wearing it, the rights that it conferred, the deeds wrought it the fame attached to special skills in its use, the superstitions connected with it... all these things combined to give the katana an importance beyond the limit of ordinary comprehension.
This warrior spirit permeates the full-length feature film (Anime), Princess Mononoke. But Digimon, like Pokemon, adds a new twist that fits 21st Century dreams. It trades the sword, not simply for a light saber as in the Star Wars epic, but for unlimited psychic forces. These can destroy civilizations and defeat enemies far beyond the reach of any human weapon. When human heroes falter, their evolving flock of friendly monsters will finish the job. Who needs God in such a world?
It may be hard to understand how a nation of gentle Buddhists and nature-loving Shintos could breed such real and imagined violence. But Japan's religious and military history offers some clues. First, the Tibetan Buddhism taught by the Dalai Lama may sound peaceful, but historically this Tantric form of Buddhism involved deadly rivalries, wars, and human sacrifice. (See kundalini yoga) Jesse, a student of martial arts in the tradition of Japanese Shingon Mikkyo Vajrayana Buddhism explains its link to Japan:
Actually, what the Dalai lama practices is basically the same as what you will find in the Ninpo martial arts. The Tibetans usually call it Tibetan Buddhism or Tantric Buddhism, in Japan they call it Mikkyo. The only difference between the Mikkyo of Japan and Tibet is the Mikkyo in Japan was brought to China on the silk road, and the Mikkyo in Tibet was brought directly over the Himalayas into Tibet. The origin in India is the same. As time went on, of course, the two evolved some differences, but the heart remains the same.
Most people think that Zen was the sect of Buddhism that had the most influence on Japanese martial arts. Though, Zen did have an influence on the Japanese arts, when it comes to the classical Japanese arts of Koryu Bujutsu, Mikkyo had a much stronger influence. The influence wasn't on the ninja only, but on the Samurai class also.
... some schools of esoteric meditations have mantras for the mudras (hand formed symbols) and visualizations. Well, according to my teacher, a man who has been a Shingon monk for about thirty years, all schools of Mikkyo meditation practice mantras, mudras, and visualizations together.... This technique of the mantra, mudra, and visualization is called sanmitsu in Japanese; the mystery of voice, mind, and body.
PAGANISM AROUND THE WORLD: Since the beginning of time, human migrations and traveling merchants have spread earth-centered religions around the world, blending beliefs and molding new ones according to needs and wishes. One would rightly expect earth-centered religions around the world to share some common traits.
Looking back, we discover that primitive animists as well as sophisticated religious civilizations have worshiped the sun and the stars. They used similar rituals and rhythms for producing trance states and invoking their favorite gods and spirits. They used the same four-fold formula for magic and spell-casting that Wiccan leader Starhawk describes in the Spiral Dance: visualization, concentration, relaxation, and (mental) projection. They use similar symbols, and most ancient groups link sexual rites to fertility or enlightenment.
All these systems -- now idealized through multicultural education -- brought violence, not peace. They usually saw people in other nations as subhuman, and their moral code honored human sacrifice. Tragically, many of the unbiblical counterfeits of Christianity fared little better (see Biblical versus Cultural Christianity).
Common Practices of Earth-Centered Religions
Trance state Dreams Visions Divi- nation
Magic Sorcery Charms Amulets Solstice rites Serpent worship Sacred sex Ancient animism
Greek, Roman civilizations
Native Amer. spirituality
In most of these cultures, the value of a human life would depend, not on inherent worth, but on its functional value to the community or family. Thus human sacrifice was commonly practiced, and infanticide was acceptable in many pagan cultures. Women were replaceable, and countless wives -- both among royalty and peasants -- were killed and buried with deceased husbands. Ritual killing could be seen as a game or as public entertainment. This was true in my native Norway as well as in feudal Japan.
Today, the world is once again linking killing to fun entertainment. Popular games, films, books, and classroom curricula fascinate children with shocking stories that change their values and desensitize them to violence. Addicted to violent thrills, many crave ever more bloody and shocking brutality. Small wonder then, that J.K. Rowling, author of the top-selling Harry Potter books, has promised that the fourth book in the series will involve killing someone her fans have learned to love. Kids around the world can hardly wait to find out who and how. In this context, it seems perfectly natural that the DigiMon Virtual Pet Page would equate intentional killing with fun entertainment through deadly digital battles:
"It is obviously much more 'boy' oriented than the earlier pets. You can hook your pet to a friend's pet and fight to the death or be seriously wounded."
A far more subtle problem is the popular practice of attributing human worth and characteristics to plants and animals -- including digital monsters and animals -- thus impressing young minds with images that support today's politically correct visions of a global bio-family linked through a universal spirit. In this context, the life of a worm is as valuable as a human baby. And its no surprise that an Internet cybercemetery offers a final resting place for beloved "virtual pets."
GOD'S WAY IN A PAGAN WORLD. Contrary to the teachings of Al Gore, Native American writers, and others who tout a universal spirit in all parts of creation, God has given His people special moral responsibilities as well as a unique place in His creation. Our higher position came with commands to care for both trees and animals, wild ones as well as domestic, as He would.
He also tells us to be humble, faithful, and kind to everyone -- even to our enemies. But such love is only possible when we first love God. That means reading about His love in the Bible, trusting Him to fill us with His love, and choosing to follow Him no matter what happens. (See our beliefs)
The Digimon world and other popular Animes teach a different way of life. Unlike Biblical Christianity, their ways fit right into the new global culture. Only when children learn God's Word, know what they believe, and choose to stand firmly on their convictions, will they be able to resist today's pressure to conform to the new beliefs. To help clarify the differences and strengthen your child's faith, consider these contrasts:
Global Beliefs & Values Biblical Beliefs & Values A permissive, impersonal god: "God's life and power is in everyone." more The personal God of the Bible: He loves me, saved me, lives in me, strengthens me...." Pride: "With this power, I can do anything." Humility: "Apart from Christ I can do nothing." John 15:5 Contempt for parents: "They don't understand. It's up to us kids to fix the world." more Gratefulness toward parents: "Honor your father and your mother that it may be well with you." Ephesians 6:2 Loyalty to the group: "The group is more important than the person." more Loyalty to God: "We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29 Follow group consensus: "I have to go along. I don't want to be different." more Follow God's Word: "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 Trust your feelings. "I feel good when I do things that make others look up to me." Trust God "with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your pats." Proverbs 3:5-6
When children learn to follow their feelings, conform to their peers, and trust themselves instead of God, they become like boats without anchor or rudder, drifting with each shifting wind of the popular culture. Unaware of God's true character, they build their faith on cultural norms and images. Few even realize that they have rejected God.
These children fit the goals of America's social engineers. (See Brainwashing and "Education Reform") They will rebel against their parents and join the masses that mock Christ and despise His friends. Psalm 1 summarizes this downward slide toward a paganized distortion of Biblical Christianity. It also illustrates God's upward call to an uncompromising life of victory. We do well to heed its warming and its promise:
"Blessed is the man who
Walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper."
[Nanking] Click here for pictures of what happened in Nanking. But remember that every nation has, from time to time, been ruled by brutal, militant leaders without conscience. As a Norwegian-American, I can look back to the same kinds of cruelties in the old Norse Viking culture. The world has watched similar atrocities in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Communist nations around the world. Human nature doesn't change from one continent to another, but beliefs, training and disciplines do change people -- for good or for evil. The friendship, courage and loyalty touted in Pokemon and Digimon sounds good, but it also supports the globalist quest for solidarity. Remember, most of the evils committed under totalitarian rulers happened because of misplaced loyalties, misdirected zeal, and unwillingness to risk the group's disapproval in order to follow one's convictions.
DIGIMON DIGI-BATTLE CARDS: " There are 2 kinds of cards: DIGIMON cards and POWER OPTION cards. Digimon cards are the character cards that fight their battles in the DUEL ZONE. Power Option cards are used to enhance the power and flexibility of the battling Digimon cards."
DIGIMON CARDS: " Digimon cards are divided into three BATTLE TYPES.... They are further differentiated into four DIGIVOLVE levels..... The higher the level, the stronger the card. To Digivolve your battling Digimon to the next level, you must play a card that meets the DIGIVOLVE REQUIREMENTS.... POWER BLAST cards are used in the Battle Phase to enhance the battling Digimon in several different ways, depending on what is printed on the card."
 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 12 (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968), page 882.
 Religions of Asia, 2nd Ed. by John Y. Fenton, Norvik Hein, Frank E. Reynolds, Alan L. Miller, Niels C. Nielsen, Jr. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988), page 122-123. The authors represent Emory, Yale, Miami, and Rice Universities.
 Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 12, page 932.
 Links to history and spirituality behind martial arts: A library of articles on martial arts history. Background and Classical Martial Arts
[Mikkyo] "Both Tendai and Shingon Buddhism came to be dominated by Buddhist forms of tantrism, usually referred to as Esoteric Buddhism (in Japanese, mikkyo).... Its elaborate rituals appealed to all levels of society. Heian Esoteric Buddhism... sought religious power and spiritual achievement through ritual. This also made possible new forms of Shinto-Buddhist amalgamation. The use of the mudra (ritual hand and body gestures) became popular, as did the dharani (ritual chanting of sacred formulas) and the mandala (the sacred diagram)." From Religions of Asia, 2nd Ed. by John Y. Fenton, Norvik Hein, Frank E. Reynolds, Alan L. Miller, Niels C. Nielsen, Jr. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988), page 263. The authors represent Emory, Yale, Miami, and Rice Universities.
This quote was part of an email discussion at this website. Jesse added this comment: "If anyone is interested in learning more about mikkyo I encourage them to check out the web site for the Shingon Buddhist International Institute at www.shingon.org. Or, anyone who's interested in Koryu Bujutsu (classical japanese martial arts) try looking up www.koryu.com.
 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (New York: Harper & Row, 1979),p. 62.
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