Monday, April 28, 2008

The Power Ranger Bible

Okay, I need to explain that quite a bit. There is not a Power Ranger Bible. But there is a new line of Bibles that are related to the Power Rangers.

Let's go back a few years. A guy named Walt Disney really changed the way the world looked at cartoons. From Mickey Mouse to Snow White, animated art became a major cultural machine. In Japan, Osamu Tezuka was influenced by Disney and brought those techniques, with a uniquely Japanese flavor, to Japanese reading audiences. This art form, called manga, became a huge cultural medium and remains so today. Manga is also more than just comic strips. They are visual storytelling. This form of story telling easily translated to animated medium. "Cartoons" based on manga art form, called anime, began to be popular in the 1970's. Some of those shows were shown in the U.S. and gained a following here. One of the earliest that I remember was Battle of the Planets. There was also Voltron, Defender of the Universe. This show in particular influenced what would become the Power Rangers.

So the history line looks like this:

Drawn art = manga
Animated art = anime
Live action = Power Ranger

Now to the Bible that is related to Power Rangers. I was in Cokesbury a few weeks back and picked up The Manga Bible. Manga, while mainstream in Japan, is only just a niche market in the U.S. But it is a growing market. Publishers realize this now. If you go into a Barnes and Noble you will find a huge section of manga. The Christian publishing market has picked up this trend. Brian, at Cokesbury, filled me in that there are going to be even more manga (and possibly anime?) Christian resources coming out.

So what is the difference and why does it matter? First of all, the art work is more mature than that of the more traditional picture Bibles. Meaning that this is not intended for children. This is aimed at the teenage and young adult market. It is grittier, darker, and sometimes harsh. But that is one aspect of manga style. It can evoke that feel. But it doesn't diminish the story.

Second is that this is not a complete rendering of scripture. This is a narrative or story driven form. We all love story over ideas. This Bible takes the story of the Bible and puts it into picture form. It uses that narrative of God's revelation and portrays it in picture.

Third this exposes more people to the Gospel. It may not be a perfect medium. But there is no perfect medium to convey the fullness of God's story to us.

Last. It's just cool.

This is not for everyone, though. This is not a Sunday School Bible. I won't be preaching from it or using it for children's messages. This is a reading Bible. But it does a fair job of conveying the story into parts of our culture that may never encounter the Gospel in another fashion.