This is a post about Happy Science. You may not have heard of them.
They are one of many ‘Japanese new religions’ (or Shinshukyo) that still operate. No way are they on par with the likes of doomsday cults like Aum Shinrikyo (now known as Aleph). It would be wrong to call them a hippy cult, but peace, love and understanding is essentially what they are about. Believers and converts are required to follow a set path in life, and must have “the aspiration and vision to seek the way and contribute to the realisation of love, peace and happiness on Earth”.
The founder and leader Ryuho Okawa (the reincarnation of supreme deity El Cantare) claims to channel spirits such as Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, among others. However, while the group doesn’t aim for monotheism like most major religions, it recognises many gods…I presume one idea of this is that they see no need for religious war.
So why on earth am I writing about them here?
I’m pretty sure that it was when I was looking into how some religious organisations use anime as a medium to show people their beliefs (and whatnot). I first came across the shorts made by Aum Shinrikyo/Aleph, showing founder Shoko Asahara using supernatural powers like levitating and phasing; the shorts are still scattered here and there on YouTube. But this didn’t directly lead me to Happy Science, though. I’ve had this interest and fascination of religious groups and cults for a good long while; not at all joining them, but instead I think about what drives people from mainstream religion to such beliefs that, to some, could be seen as threatening to everyday life. I researched some more into ‘Japanese new religions’, and pretty much one of the first things that came up was concerning some anime movies that Happy Science had produced to show its beliefs; not so much as propaganda, but to act as information. This, and spreading the message that a deity known as El Cantare is there for all of us, to shield us from greed and lust.
And so I managed to find these movies, and see for myself…