Most Japanese are not Christian.
They hear Westerners talk about it; and most of it gets lost except for the imagery of some poor guy getting ritually killed and then reanimated, and a vague understanding of a specific kind of afterlife and hell. Ironically, this makes the more unfamiliar aspects seem somewhat morbid to those unfamiliar with the context — in fact, similar to how many Westerners view Vodou/Vodun/Voodoo
. Additionally, many places are familiar with crosses as historically common execution devices but lack the religious baggage making their depiction explicitly taboo.
At the very least, Christian imagery tends to be visual short-hand for occult overtones if it's intentionally symbolic. Occasionally it's used as simply a fashion choice, much in the way kanji inserted just for the hell of it
are used in other countries.
See also Crucified Hero Shot
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Anime and Manga
- The demon-fighting demon symbiotes of Tokko all wear crosses.
- In Princess Resurrection the vampiress Reiri seems especially associated with crosses; standing on them for effect or having them in her background.
- The cross-shaped explosions in Neon Genesis Evangelion shown above. Misato's cross was more a memorial to Second Impact and the death it caused than any religious icon. It's also the last thing her father gave her before placing her in the escape pod just before dying from his injuries, thus saving her life.
cross attack!? Why!?
: Because it's... deep?
: Ah, don't start start that tired argument again! It was added because the director thought it was shiny, so just move on and continue the operation.
- Death Note:
- Misa and Mello's respective necklaces (and, in Misa's case, also earrings). Interesting in that while Misa's is generally seen as her being into typically commercialized gothic trends, Mello's is often seen as an indication he is Catholic by fandom. This is probably because Misa's are just random crosses, while Mello is seen at least once with an actual rosary. Not to mention that while Misa is Japanese, Mello is European (what kind is up for debate) and thus more likely to actually have some personal connection to the religion itself. In the anime, the crosses are omitted, with Misa's cross replaced with a fleur de lis and all crosses worn by Mello removed - though interestingly, the cross is retained on the Misa collector's figure included with volume 5 of the DVD series, and she is also depicted wearing it in the anime's first opening. It's also worth noting that, in the scene where he interrogates Soichiro, he's sitting benearth a crucifix. All Christianity may be Catholic in American and European media, but crucifixes are much less common that regular crosses in Japanese media. The fandom also cites the fact that his real name, Mihael Keehl, appears to be Croatian and German. Both countries have a high percentage of Catholics.
- Death Note Relight features a cross at L's headstone.
- Taken Up to Eleven when we see Mello's personal quarters◊ in the manga. Of course, that's more like Creepy Cool Catholicism, or Creepy Cool Image Of The Virgin Mary And The Angels...
- In Air Gear, Kilik wore these all over his clothes in the past, and all the Gravity Children's Twinkle Eyes invoke this. More often than not, when a Gravity Child reveals their Twinkle Eyes, most, if not all their face is shadowed so it's just like seeing two glowing crosses.
- Hellsing: Father Alexander Anderson (given his profession) wears one, as do many of his Iscariot protégés. Alucard is sometimes seen with them as well, and they're a running theme in the series itself. Both Alucard and Anderson sometimes position their weapons (two BFGs and Absurdly Sharp Bayonets respectively) into crosses before battle, too.
- Jung from Gunbuster wears one, despite being from East Germany, when the Communist Bloc historically persecuted devout Christians. Maybe they got lax in the future.
- While generally East Germans are even less religious than West Germans, the GDR was never able to completely root out Christianity during the 40 years of its existence (and neither did the Soviet Union that lasted almost twice as long). There are still many Christians in eastern Germany and they actually proved to be one of the major forces responsible for the end of Communism (much like the Catholic Church in Poland).
- Isuzu (Rin) and Hatsuharu Sohma from Fruits Basket occasionally wear crosses.
- Crosses feature prominently in Weiß Kreuz, the title of which is in fact (slightly mangled) German for "white cross." A white cross appears to be the logo of Weiss, the team of four Hitmen With Hearts who are the protagonists of the series. Several members of Weiss habitually wear crosses - particularly in the Oddly Named Sequel Weiss Kreuz: Gluhen, in which every member of Weiss has a red cross somewhere on his "working clothes," including one who paints a cross on his bare chest. Possibly justified in the cases of Aya and Ken, as they are at least nominally Christian. Crucifixion symbolism also turns up at least once.
- For added symbolism, regarding the team's red crosses on their working clothes: Ken's extends around his neck and Youji's (the one who paints it on his bare chest every time he gets dressed) is slanted. Aya has a main one on his cravat, which is extended across his entire chest because of the way his Badass Longcoat is styled, and he has two more on the wrists of his gloves.
- AIR: The school uniforms bear crosses on the ties. Religion does bear a big role in the plot - but it's Buddhism and Shinto.
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, crosses are symbols of the Panthalassa race.
- Tooya in Ayashi no Ceres wears a choker with a cross on it.
- Hayate's Armed Device in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is shaped like a cross (and she's got crosses all over her mage outfit, too) and named accordingly: "Schwertkreuz" means "Sword Cross" in Gratuitous German. What with being a Person of Mass Destruction and all... Her quirky miniboss, Vita, has crosses all over her Elegant Gothic Lolita costume, which Hayate created for her.
- In fact, the crosses seem to have been a popular symbol in the Ancient Belkan culture (whose magic Hayate and Vita use), as evident in the "magic circle" associated with it (which is actually a triangle with a cross inscribed in it). No in-universe explanation has been provided for this, although the very last God Emperor of Belka was a Messianic Archetype (or Crystal Dragon Jesus) who sacrificed her life to end the war. For whatever reason, however, crosses also feature prominently in Teana's Custom Uniform, who is about as far removed from Belkan magic as it gets.
- Nanoha Force additionally gives us an ancient Artifact of Doom inconspicuously dubbed "the Bible of Silver Cross". It's nature and origins are yet to be revealed, however.
- Nicholas D. Wolfwood from Trigun, partially justified in that he's supposed to be a man of God. Naturally, though, research was sacrificed for the sake of the Rule of Cool... and More Dakka.
- Ikuto and Utau in Shugo Chara!.
- Zange in Kannagi.
- The Quincies from Bleach incorporate crosses heavily into their weapons and clothing.
- And the Quincy cross, albeit in a corrupted form, is used as the logo by the final arc's new enemy, the Vandenreich.
- Love Hina: An interesting subversion: Naru is neither creepy nor particularly cool, yet a discreet and small cross can be seen around her neck at times. This small cross necklace helped save her life in volume 12, where it and the engagement ring Keitaro had been trying to give to her snagged a tree branch as they fell off a cliff. Then the chain snapped and they fell the last couple feet with no problem.
- And in the manga of Mahou Sensei Negima! by the same author, Evangeline (who can qualify as both creepy and particularly cool) has been seen with a cross on her clothing. (She may get extra Badass points for doing so, given that she's a vampire.)Other characters wear them, but all of them are either nominal Christians or impersonating nuns (or in-between, or both at once - at one point a student who normally wears a cross is praying to God to forgive the cross she's wearing... as part of the fetish nurse costume her classmates have dressed her in). And one of the maybe-fake nuns is seen using figures formed of darkness as her main weapon, which probably fits the trope.
- In Evangeline's case, it's probably just a matter of fashion. She tend to wear the gothic lolita style when not in uniform, and crosses are popular images in that fashion style.
- Violinist of Hameln: The kingdom and royalty of Sforzendo use crosses as a holy seal. Flute goes one further and pulls out huge, mallet-sized crosses to beat down on the object of her ire. Queen Horn shoots laser beams from hers.
- Crosses show up plenty in Rosario + Vampire, usually in the form of Power Limiters. Another example of crosses and vampires holding a strong thematic association.
- Choutaro Ohtori from Prince of Tennis wears a silver cross, despite not being Christian (he says so in the OAV when asked by Shishido). Subverted since he's not creepy, but quite a Gentle Giant.
- Since Chrono Crusade is about a nun with guns and the demon she's contracted to fighting other demons, it makes sense that crosses would pop up—and they do, a lot. The bullets Rosette uses show crosses in the air when fired, the barriers used to trap the demons also glow with cross-shaped energy, in the anime Chrono is badly injured when a cross-shaped piece of a building falls on top of him, Remington's energy blade looks like a cross relic until it's activated...
- Soul Eater: Death Scythe wears a cross shaped tie and has crosses on his shirt lapels, and had a similar style as a child. It also reflects his Weapon form, which looks like a cross when the blade isn't present. Also the aptly named Death Room is full of hundreds of grave marker style crosses. Justin the priest wore a cross and had some on his clothing but these vanished as part of a Madness/Villanous Makeover IIRC replaced by the eye symbol of the Bigger Bad.
- In Gungrave, the protagonist Beyond the Grave has a silver cross motif on the front of his hat, the back of his coat, on the red "kneepads" of his pants, the back of his boots, and the soles of his boots. It's probably mainly because of simply being cool.
- Not to mention the prominent cross shape on each of his twin pistols.
- And the big one on his Coffin. In the sequel to the game the weapon's "upgraded" so the cross design in no longer there.
- In Overdose the deadman Fangoram wields a giant cross-shaped gun (resembles the cross punisher from Trigun a bit) called the Center Head. It's the last gun of the Cerberus Series to be made, and is outright stated to be the strongest of the Cerberus line.
- MÄR: Halloween, a psychopathic villain, is chained to a cross-shaped ARM. As a child, he tortured small animals to death and burned the kids who bullied him to death, and spends most of the story either trying to kill his only childhood friend, Alan, or waiting to. Yeah.
- Duo Maxwell from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing was raised in a Catholic orphanage, is a devout Christian, even wears priest-like clothes (if you exclude Endless Waltz, that is) and lots of crosses, he is known as Shinigami, or, in good ol' English, Death God. Can't get more creepy than that.
- Actually, Duo isn't a devout Christian; he himself states that he doesn't believe in God because he hasn't seen a miracle, but has seen lots of dead people. (In other words, Duo is more of a Hollywood Atheist.) He wears the crosses and collar as a memento of the priest and nun who cared for him. (Later, in Frozen Teardrops he appears to be a preacher, but it's more of a front for his Bounty Hunter work than anything else.)
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, when Kaiba is going to be sacrificed to create the Five God Dragon in the virtual reality story arc, he is tied to a tau or T-shaped pillar, but in a definitely crucified position. Beyond that, the show and the card game alike feature countless dozens of crosses all adorning magicians' robes, spell books, glyphs, etc.
- Angel's Egg: The nameless young man (who may be the Christ or Anti-Christ) in Mamoru Oshii's animated film carries a large, cross-shaped weapon in his back. Mamoru Oshii is a former Christian who once aimed for priesthood, so he presumably knows his way around the symbolism better than an average Japanese, but it's still a case of True Art Is Incomprehensible.
- Kiddy Grade's Éclair wears a pair of crosses as earrings. Apparently, they also function as communication devices, and also indicate the status of her nanomist shield.
- What about her gigantic cleavage which has a shape of an upside-down cross?
- Yami No Matsuei - Dr Kazutaka Muraki sure loves those crosses to set a mood, and even gives a monologue at one point during the anime about how Christians in Japan in the past had to hide their faith. There's no indication that Muraki himself is a Christian, though.
- From One Piece, we have Mihawk with his huge cross-shaped sword and his tiny cross pendant knife.
- Eyeshield 21. The Devil Bats use a play called the Cris Cross, some translators having put in as "Christ Cross," as it was pictured as the religious cross with the quarterback at the center. The play is simply two runners taking the ball from the quarterback, or faking the play so the quarterback can pass. Monta and Sena never successfully play it until one of the last plays of the Christmas bowl. It also turns out that that one time was actually a variation of the move called the Evil cross.
- Strangely enough, this is completely averted in Berserk, this troper cannot remember even one cross of religious context throughout the series, when you consider that the resident Crystal Dragon Jesus is based largely on inquisition era Catholicism, and the portrayal of the Kushan religion, this is surprising.
- D.Gray-Man: Allen along with the other Exorcists wear crosses on their uniforms to signify that they are part of the Black Order. Most of the Innocence weapons have some allusion to a cross of some sort:
- Allen's left arm, his weapon, has a cross symbol on the back of his hand. When activated into Crown Clown's Sword of Exorcism, a cross like design appears on his surfboard sized sword. Cross Grave is an attack that destroys Akuma all at once, leaving behind white glowing cross symbols.
- Lenalee's newly evolved Dark Boots when deactivated turn into a anklets, and a black cross is tattooed into the sides of her feet.
- Cross's Judgement creates a variation of the cross.
- Satoshi from D.N.Angel is often shown wearing crosses in his outfits, including one outfit where his shirt has a huge gold-colored cross on the back. This is partially because the manga likes dressing him in gothy visual kei-styled outfits, but is also likely a reference to his alter ego Krad, who has a cross accessory hanging from his ponytail.
- Subverted in the Sands of Destruction anime. Funeral crosses are just straight lines going through circles.
- Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess has been known to wear discreet crosses as jewelry. Given that she is the Goddess of the Present, inhabits a fairly animist world, and has met the Almighty personally, you have to wonder what she's saying with the fashion choice.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Greed (Mk. 1) lowered from the ceiling pinned to a cross after Wrath recaptures him. Of course, this cross appears to be the piece of sewer floor Wrath pinned him to—they just sliced up the concrete rather than risk unpinning him and starting over on the capture thing. The dialogue afterward is all about sons and fathers and submission, and in the end Father sacrifices his son and reincorporates him into the greater whole of himself. Does This Remind You of Anything? No, not that. Father has a huge god complex, by the way.
- Arakawa dealt with religion in fairly Abrahamic terms from the very beginning with Sun God Leto, and kicked it up a notch in the Ishval flashback, which was a Holocaust stand-in despite being the much more historically standard systematic razing of a city. But because she doesn't like to cross-contaminate her fantasy world with Author Filibuster, this is the only appearance of a cross. And there's a good excuse.
- The symbol on Ed's cloak is an aversion of the Faux Symbolism of this trope, as this is an actual alchemical symbol from Nicholas Flamel's writings. It's derivation can be traced from the Rod of Asclepius, the Greek symbol of medicine, or the Caduceus, the ancient Greek sign of wealth. Both make sense in the context of the work, since Alkahestry deals with medicine, and Alchemy's original goal is the production of gold, or more accurately, immortality.
- Scar's pants.
- A Certain Magical Index:
- Vento of the Front has a cross attached to a length of chain which is bolted to her tongue.
- Biagio Busoni has dozens of crosses on his person. His fighting style is to throw them at his opponents, then magically make them enlarge to the size of cars in midair.
- The title character Nyanpire◊ from The Gothic World of Nyanpire has a yellow cross on his stomach that he got once he was turned into an actual vampire.
Films — Live-Action
- Shipwrecked English sailor John Blackthorne is both amazed and appalled to witness Japanese criminals being executed by crucifixion in James Clavell's epic Shogun. See "Real Life" below.
- E Nomine's music video for "Schwarze Sonne" has some very creepy Christian imagery.
- Black Sabbath are masters of this trope.
- In Märchen, the Nun is killed when an old woman driven mad by starvation runs her through and pins her to an inverted cross.
- Witch House album covers and videos are rife with crosses, along with triangles, misc. occult symbolism and other unsettling imagery. Crosses and triangles also frequently appear in band names and track titles, making them unpronounceable.
- During his Ministry Of Darkness days, The Undertaker had a creepy cool cross. His was more of a T with an X in the middle of it, and no matter how often Jim Ross tried to sell the thing as a "symbol", it still looked like a cross. After the Ministry had kidnapped Stephanie McMahon, the Undertaker ordered the Ministry to "put her on the cross", shortly followed by him saying "put her on the symbol".
- The short-lived pseudo-religious character Mordecai carried a big metal cross around with him.
- Dragon Gate wrestler Dragon Kid names his trademark moves with a religious theme in mind. He has a spinning flying headscissor submission called the Christo that looks vaguely cross-like when applied. Gail Kim brought the move to America during her first WWE run.
- Sheamus's ring gear is loaded with crosses, and his finishing move is a crucifix powerbomb. Of course, this makes perfect sense, as Celtic crosses carved from stone are a common motif in traditional Irish art.
- Edge had a Christian cross on his boots during his Brood days, while Christian had an ankh on both his boots and his tights. Neither had anything to do with either Christianity or ancient Egyptian religions.
- The CHIKARA stable Bruderschaft Des Kruzes ("Brotherhood of the Cross") used Creepy Cool Crosses as their central motif.
- Mercedes Martinez often wears crosses on her clothing, in this case the message is "Only God Can Judge Me!"
- In RuneQuest cross is the Rune of Death. It represents the sword of Humakt, the god of death, and can 'coincidentally' be used to repel undead, such as vampires.
- In the grim darkness of the far future Christianity is a forgotten religion, but you still have crosses: they're usually combined with skull motifs, and worn by The Empire's elite terror troops. It doesn't really get any creepier than this.
- In the SNES game Final Fantasy VI The Christian crosses can be seen in the North American version of Final Fantasy VI (released as Final Fantasy III) The crosses can be seen on characters shield icons. Also during the turn based battles the cross can be seen when the character like Terra or Locke holds up a shield. Also in the Graveyard of Thamasa or Mobliz the crosses can be seen on the tombstones especially General Leos memorial grave. This is one of the examples of church crosses getting past the Nintendo censorship.
- In the SNES game Lufia2 The Christian cross at the church with the priest has been replaced with the obelisk or taken out of the North American release. If you visit a town that has been destroyed like Gordovan you can see the Christian cross at the ruins of the church. It is unclear if it has gotten past the Nintendo censorship or if it represents a death in Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals.
- Seifer Almasy in Final Fantasy VIII is distinguished by the Templar cross that he wears.
- In La Pucelle, Croix's gun is shaped like a cross. Though parts of it were edited down in the US release to resemble an actual gun, the discerning eye can still see a cross handle somewhere down the middle.
- In fact, the original version of La Pucelle was brimming with crosses, the protagonists being a squad of battle clerics and all. Every single one was edited out, from Alouette's earrings, which became rectangular, to Prier's staff, which lost its cross-tip, to the little cursor for target selection in combat, which became a sort of Damocles' sword, not to mention the church buildings. Croix also lost his cigarette, but still put his hand to his mouth at the end of battles... His name means "Cross" in French. There's a lot of Bilingual Bonus in this game if you know a bit of French.
- The Disgaea series has a recurring gun attack called Totenkreuz, which is German for "crux mortis" or "death cross". The character using this attack charges energy into his gun before firing a thick shot, which looks like a fiery laser, down on the target(s). Upon impact, the shot explodes into a gigantic flaming cross. Unlike most of the attacks in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, this one remains almost unchanged from its Disgaea: Hour of Darkness incarnation.
- The White Dragon's Holy Flare attack creates a similarly shaped explosion.
- Valvatorez from Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten has some inverted ones embroidered on his pants.
- Large crosses double as boomerang-style throwing weapons in the Castlevania series of video games. Richter Belmont's Item Crash for this particular subweapon summons a screen-filling cross, with a carving of Jesus Christ on it, to smash down foes. Also, rosaries (with large crosses on them) will instantly destroy all enemies in the room.
- Despite being a vampire, Remilia Scarlet of Touhou likes cross imagery, and uses them in her spellcards. (This doesn't seem to be the only religious imagery that she likes; she's got a spellcard named "Star of David" as well.)
- So does her little sister, though her attack is called "Counter Clock", it definitely involves crosses.
- Yumemi Okazaki, despite being a scientist from another reality and likely not Christian, uses crosses.
- During the NESTS saga of The King of Fighters, Kyo Kusanagi wears a black shirt with 2 pairs of perpendicular white lines forming a cross on his chest. Also, in the Days of Memories Spin Offs, Goenitz, Chris and Shermie are seen wearing crucifixes. It may be important to note that, while of those chracters, Goenitz is supposed to be a priest, his true loyalties are with Orochi.
- Rin Tohsaka in Fate/stay night.
- This is actually explained in backstory. Rin is decended from "Kakure Kirishitans". Japanese Christians who went into hiding in after Japan banned foreign influences (including the Christian religion). Also, her legal guardian is a Catholic Priest. The entire town once belonged to Rin's family - if they used crosses as symbols, the school might have kept it/use it as part of the same tradition.
- RosenkreuzStilette justifies this by placing the setting in 16th-century Europe (more specifically, the German Holy Empire). One where bombs and clocks have been invented early, and where fairies and demons exist, yes, but nonetheless a European setting.
- Brandished upside-down by the Evil Clerics of The Dungeon Revealed.
- Slayer from Guilty Gear makes use of cross motifs, being a sufficiently different vampire and all.
- Rachel from BlazBlue, whose design can best be described as Slayer's reverse-jailbait daughter.
- A number of fans have often wondered about the prevalence of crosses in the first two games of the Zelda series. Every tombstone in either game has a cross on it, and Link even picks up an actual cross as an item in the second game. Word of God explains that the original plan was to have Christianity as the main religion in Hyrule; the three goddesses weren't invented until after the two NES games were released. Note that crosses are never seen again from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past onward.
- Skeith from the .hack series of games gets a pagan cross as his primary weapon (or a 'red wand' in the English version). When he uses his Data Drain move, the cross teleports behind the victim, giving the impression of a cruxifiction.
- In a rather odd manner, Dragon Quest VIII uses a stylized cross as the symbol of the game's obvious Catholic Church Expy, which makes sense so far. The manner in which it is stylized, however, has the two arms bent upwards and both, along with the "head" are tipped with points that give it a sinister pitchforked design... which seems all the creepier because the church isn't secretly worshiping expy-Satan behind the expy-Christ facade.
- In the free-to-play MMORPG Forsaken World, the Kindred race, Vampire class uses a large stylized crucifix as their main weapon, in which it is used as a more conventional staff to help increase their magical power.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, one weapon is a blade those various forms of attacks are all crosses. The charged shots are large crosses with equal-length arms, the rapid-fire shot are lots of tiny traditional crosses, the weapon itself is cross-shaped, and the melee attack extends the weapon with a cross-shaped Laser Blade. The weapon is called the Crusader Blade.
- Devil World not only has crosses on the Bibles, but also as the item that lets Tamagon eliminate dots and breathe fire on enemies, and the maze also has big cross-shaped walls.
- The C-130 Hercules transport plane has the Angel Flare, which...oh, just look at it yourself.◊
- Urban legends allege that the Japanese or Chinese make holiday decorations or Christmas tree ornaments featuring a crucified Santa. No such displays in Japan or China have been verified, but New York artist Robert Cenedella's painting of a crucified Santa (intended as a commentary on the commercialization of Christmas) has muddied these waters.
- The mediaeval Japanese used crucifixion as a method of execution, having developed this independently of the West. The first Western visitors - Catholic missionaries - were amazed at this (and especially at the way the prisoner was eventually despatched with long spears) and speculated the country must have had some prior contact with decent Christian folk, reasoning back from the two thieves executed with Jesus. Crucifixion was used as public execution until well into the final Shogunate, and accounts exist of its being used on British and American prisoners of war in WW2.