Japanese Christian newspaper The Christ Weekly has a new comic strip to teach readers about Christian values. Her name? Pyuuri-tan (ピューリたん). You know, like as in “Puritan”. Oh boy.
In Japanese, the word for “Puritan” is “Pyuuritan” (ピューリタン). “Tan” (たん）is also a slang for the informal name marker “chan” (ちゃん) and is a nickname often given to anime girls that personify things (of course, some women also use it informally). So the schoolgirl character’s name is actually “Pyuuri”, and the added “tan” makes this a Japanese wordplay.
Christians are a religious minority in Japan. During the 16th and 17th centuries, they were persecuted and put to death. There were even instances of crucifixion.
Today, generally speaking, Japanese are not against Christianity in the least, and do find the religion’s artifice attractive with many people getting married in faux Christian chapels built explicitly for marriage ceremonies (and not religious worship).
Also, there have been several Japanese Christians who have served as the country’s prime minister. That being said, the country is still less than one-per cent Christian, with the majority of Japanese practicing Buddhist and Shinto rituals — and, broadly speaking, being rather relaxed about organised religion, especially compared to other countries.
An illustrator named Sono is doing the serialized comic strip (though, it’s explicitly called a “manga”). Stuff like this isn’t exactly unheard of. Japan has seen manga versions of religious figures, whether that’s Jesus manga or Buddha manga ( or both). Here, though, we have a Christian newspaper embracing anime girl tropes — if anything, I guess, to spread the word of God? Or something?
The Christ Weekly isn’t a major newspaper (as Christianity isn’t a major religion in the country), but large Japanese sites like Livedoor have covered the Pyuuri-tan comic strip, reporting that reaction has varied. Online, some people in Japan are saying everything from “religious faith isn’t something to poke fun at” to “she’s cute.