Shinto Portrayals in Manga is the latest book in the Mimusubi Essays on Shinto series. The two essays it collects were written about five years apart, and reading them over I can tell. The problem with these essays is that there are a lot of manga series written about Shinto, often with more than a dozen volumes, and every author takes a different approach. I have tried to cover a significant number of manga, and different genres of manga, but even so I am not sure just how general these observations are. There is no central authority telling manga artists how to approach Shinto, and so they do it in different ways. There are common threads in the manga I have read, which I talk about in the essays, but maybe there are other manga that I haven’t read yet that do things differently.
On the other hand, if I try to get decent breadth of coverage, the amount I can say about each individual manga is very limited, and that analysis becomes rather superficial. The longer series really deserve an essay each, looking at plot, use of Shinto elements, visual design choices, and character decisions. (Single volume pornographic manga about miko really don’t deserve that much analysis… But the whole genre probably does deserve an essay.)
The problem is that I don’t have time to do that much research on a topic that is somewhat secondary. It is very interesting, as most Shinto-related manga are written by people outside the Shinto world, and thus both reflect and shape popular perceptions of Shinto, but it is not really about Shinto itself. Thus, I am unlikely to have time to write anything that does the topic justice. I hope that this book at least provides a sense of what is there, and ideally inspires someone else to do the necessary research.