Thursday, August 13, 2015

Akagi Chapter 255

And with this new chapter of Washizu's Battle against Avidya, we come to the end of Volume 29! In this chapter, Washizu remembers what he was doing before he came to Hell! Armed with this memory, can he retaliate against the great and powerful King Enma?!

Thanks to Tambur for the typesetting and to Crump for the cleans! I'll be streaming some more Usagi this Sunday at 2:00 PM PST, and there will be a mahjong day this Saturday at 3:00 PM PST. This will be the last chapter of Akagi for a little bit as we await scans for Volume 30.

Chapter Link

"Don't 'HA' me!!"

I don't think you can really get what's going on here without a full understanding of the buddhist concept of Avidya, but I tried to explain it as best I could. Basically what Fukumoto is saying in this chapter is that Hell is more or less a figment of a sinner's imagination, and the very sinful attributes that they had in life are what tie them to Hell. In particular, the attachment to life Klesha makes someone with lots of Avidya not want to die, and that itself causes this afterlife in their minds that torments them for all eternity. I'm no buddhist myself, and I'm not sure if that's accurate to buddhist belief, but based on what I've read I'm sure that that's what Fukumoto is saying here. In other words, someone free from Avidya would reach enlightenment and not see this illusional Hell; it is Avidya itself that ties you to Hell. And because Washizu now remembers Akagi, he is able to break the illusion and take it over like it was part of a lucid dream.

So if you didn't get that, this chapter probably seems utterly ridiculous, and it might still seem that way even after you get it. I mean, Washizu growing larger than the ruler of Hell and slapping him across the face is pretty silly. But to me at least it makes sense; it's like he's remembered that he's dreaming and is now in full control of his dream. I'm sure people would have liked to see Washizu actually fight Enma somehow, but I think this is probably the best way for him to get out of Hell, anyway. The "Don't HA me!" line is still pretty great, though.

Okay, so for those of you who are deeply religious (especially Christian) and would be offended by someone analyzing your beliefs, I suggest you stop reading right now and stay away from the comments section. This is something I wanted to say last week but I was, shall we say, preoccupied, so I didn't get a chance to.

I didn't really know much about Buddhist Hell before I started translating this arc, and I have to say it seems a lot more well thought out than the Christian version of Hell. In Christianity, they say that Satan torments you forever and ever if you don't accept Jesus into your heart. And that's pretty much it. Some say that you get tormented worse the more you sin, but by and large the big picture is "You don't accept Jesus, you go to Hell forever". Now this is a kind of unfair system if you stop to think about it for more than a minute. A Buddhist monk who lives his life helping others and trying to make the world a better place while avoiding engaging in evil deeds? He's going to Hell forever. Ghandi? Burning in Hell as we speak, and will stay there forever. Your dad that never really bought into the whole accepting Jesus thing? Roasting alive for all time. A serial murderer on death row that gets a visit from a priest at the last minute and accepts Jesus then? He's saved!

You see the problem? Such a system doesn't really punish any wrongdoing, and in fact allows christians to feel at ease so long as they apologize for their sins. Honestly I feel like at some point ancient Christians came into contact with Hindus and Buddhists and saw their concept of Hell and decided that it would be a great motivator to get people to join their religion. Am I saying that Christianity is wrong? No. I'm just saying that christian Hell makes no sense, and not only that but the Bible doesn't mention it even one time in the Old or New testaments.

I've known that for a long time and I've always wondered where Dante and those of his time got the idea of Hell from. But reading this shows that Hinduism and Buddhism have had a concept of Hell all along, and it makes MUCH more sense. How do you get into Hell? By sinning. How long do you stay there? As long as King Enma sees fit. NOT FOREVER. Honestly after about 100 years or so, I think anyone would be pretty sorry about what they did in their lives. It makes no sense to just keep tormenting damned souls forever. I suppose Christianity doesn't have reincarnation, but god damn, you can at least give them a break after 1000 years!

I honestly just think that this version of Hell makes much more sense. I probably have gone on about it longer than anyone cares to hear about, but this arc really got me thinking about how strange Western Hell is compared to Eastern Hell, and how little we actually know about it compared to them. And if the explanation of Avidya in this chapter is true, it makes more sense where Hell actually is. Sorry if I offended anyone, but I just wanted to dump my thoughts here and hopefully not start a huge flame war.


  1. "He HIT me! Even Buddha never hit me!"

  2. classic

  3. Let's talk about Christianity!

    When it comes to Christianity the whole schtick is really, really transparent. It feels like an Internet scam

    Now, this is going a bit too far, the core principles like the commandments aren't bad "You shouldn't kill" but here's the kicker, how do you make people stop killing each other?

    "Hey guys you should really stop raping that woman"
    "Because she's clearly suffering and its a horrible thing to do"
    "Lol don't care"
    "Ok, about this, if you don't stop you are going to hell and suffer for all eternity!"
    "Oh shit better stop now!"

    Now, the whole "believe it!" is of course a power grab, the more people believing your sales pitch the more mouth to mouth advertisment you get. Why should God even care if you believe in him? Is he that much of an immature child?

    Yeah, as i said the whole thing is laughably transparent, but the core idea of it is well intended(and the current Pope is a pretty cool guy i have to admit) so i give them a pass

  4. The modern Christian concept of hell is an amalgam of bible verses mentioning "Sheol", meaning grave, and ancient Greek Hades. Tantalos and Sisyphus experience the orignal mediterranean afterlife punishment.

    It's true that hell is one of the most harmful parts of Christianity, but its equivalent is very harmful in Buddhism too. Both have the same problem: they put more importance on afterlife judgment than on life itself. Both say that life is a place of suffering, and that true happiness lies in heaven/enlightenment. That is an extremely harmful mindset.

  5. Did someone forgot about Purgatory? that's practically the beginning and halfway mark of The Divine Comedy.

  6. Well, the thing is also, Dante as far as I can tell was never actually a religious authority as much as someone who was religious and wrote about it.

    Like, the way I see it, the entire Divine Comedy is pretty much nothing more than a self insert fic and a vessel for Dante to write his political enemies and people he dislikes as suffering in Hell

    Meanwhile, he himself gets to chill with his great idol Vergil and the woman of his dreams.

    It's just too hard for me to take seriously. And, well, in the Divine Comedy, God's the one doling out the punishments while Satan (Lucifer) is right at the bottom for betrayal.

    Long story short, Dante is weird.

    1. It is political satire that uses religion as a literary medium, yes.

      However the point remains that as weird as religions are in general, and this holds all the more true for anything related to the Abrahamic religions, but within Christianity and Catholicism, in those particular religions they believe in a place called purgatory, which Dante did a great job depicting, so while it is true that non-believers will never go to heaven, it doesn't means that they are destined to go to hell.

      There's also the whole point of confession, which was just a political move by the Catholic church in order to maintain political an economic control over its subjects, which later on will help pietist movements to seek independence from the church by initiating an spiritual revolution, helped in part by nobles who were tired of paying tribute to the church, this movement then will directly lead to The Age of Enlightenment, but then going back to the religious part of divine forgiveness after confessing, the whole point was a fallacy for only god could impart such a thing not just a priest, let alone could be something available through monetary tribute, so when Sonick says that it is a load of bullshit, is because IT IS a load of bullshit, a load of bullshit that persist today, and has become a malpractice that is a part integral of the christian experience.

      Long story short, Purgatory is a thing, Confessing is a thing too when it should not be, and Religion is super weird.

    2. I used to be Christian and I was told that purgatory wasn't real; you either went to Heaven or Hell, nothing in between. It's mostly my old beliefs I'm criticizing here, though I don't think Purgatory makes a lot of sense either.

    3. To be fair the whole package doesn't makes much sense, you have to cherry pick it in order to make sense of it, and then cherry pick it even more to make something "good" out of it, with good being a thing that constantly changes with time.

  7. Confessing was real shady shit absolutely. Also, sorry if I came across as ignorant about Dante's work, it's been years since I read it and I might not have had the proper contextual knowledge to really 'get' it.

  8. Avidya in essence is the factor that, by giving birth to 11 more factors (dependent origination), causes birth in any realm Hellish or Heavenly. Since from the point of view of ultimate reality nothing really exists, at the root it's all (this current life included) illusions created by the mind. What Fukumoto says is more or less accurate, except the part about the "light coming from Life energy" which AFAIK has no counterpart. After all you only face Enma after you actually die, and since there is no soul, self or anything else to return to the body and "reanimate" it (the concept of "animation" itself is different in Buddhism than a soul-engine body-vehicle unity), nothing can bring you back from "there". According to the Tibetans, some people might be able to attain Enlightenment in the state between 2 lives after witnessing the horrific guardians of Hell (and/or Enma himself), but this does not cause resurrection and Washizu himself doesn't act anything like an actual Enlightened being. The Japanese might have their particular take on all this, I don't know much about that.
    I think in any case that Washizu never actually died, but hallucinated his own version of Hell (a manifestation of his fear of death) from which he broke out by remembering that he's not dead yet and that he has a match to finish, and that he has to focus only on that. This has been a recurrent theme in Akagi, and in Buddhism it has a counterpart in the fact that Enlightenment is in essence seeing everything as is, at all times, free from opinion and judgement. "living in the moment", so to speak, which is what Akagi has always been trying to do (though not completely in an Enlightened way), and the biggest reason why he can do the things he does. Washizu now understands that this is what he has to do, and he can get rid of his imaginings of death by advancing in that road.

    A small precision on Enma's role: the length of a being's existence in a Hell realm is determined by his karma, and Enma just pronounces the sentence according to that. After a century a person might feel sorry for whatever very serious evil he did that he had to be reborn in Hell, but unless he can somehow 'extinguish' the bad karma taking fruit, there can be no escape. Taking things further back; since samsara (the cycle of rebirths) has no beginning, all beings currently existing have already experienced the torments of all kinds of Hells innumerable times (and Heavens too of course), yet might in this or that life choose to go down a path that will land them there yet again. The overall outlook in Buddhism about existence is not very bright as the main idea is that it will never end no matter how much one suffers, unless one decides at some point to descend to the root and finally remove Avidya, which will put an end to existence AND non-existence after the person dies.

    >Honestly I feel like at some point ancient Christians came into contact with Hindus and Buddhists and saw their concept of Hell and decided that it would be a great motivator to get people to join their religion.
    This is probably correct. Research is being done on the subject IIRC.