Follow TV Tropes


Nuns Are Mikos

Go To

This trope is about Japanese works that portray Christian nuns as being similar to Miko (shrine maidens, shamans, spirit mediums).

Few Japanese people today are overtly religious, and even fewer are Christians (less than two percent of the population). So Christianity, particularly the Roman Catholic type, tends to get used as an exotic religion, especially if you can mix in mythology and folklore. Some writers are fannish enough to do research, especially if a story takes place in a Medieval European Fantasy. But most have only a basic understanding of the religion, and few writers have a realistic idea of what a nun's life is like.

For aesthetic purposes, this depiction always resembles Roman Catholicism; Orthodox and Protestant trappings are never seen. Christian or Pseudo-Christian monks are conspicuous by their absence, while there will be a noticeable number of pretty nuns. Aesthetics aside, expect a substitution of personalities for the eastern equivalents.

Instead of the Western role of the nun as a cloistered celibate religious figure, the nun in this role will often be a nun as a part-time after-school job, or only until she marries and has not taken any vows of celibacy, obedience or poverty. Her role will be more focused on divination than the traditional nun. Her spiritual powers will also resemble the miko—being able to see demons or produce a shield against them.

If the show goes in for high fantasy, the association with miko follows suit: she is just as likely to fight demons, use weapons (especially a high-calibre and potentially magically-enhanced gun) and have suggestive relationships.

Slightly more excusable in the Crystal Dragon Jesus religions, which is perhaps its western equivalent. Often meshes with the Church Militant. In the rare times you have both a nun and a miko, the nun is usually depicted as more patient and demure. See also Hijacked by Jesus and All Monks Know Kung-Fu.

Compare and contrast Naughty Nuns, Nun Too Holy. Ultimately also a subtrope of Creator Provincialism, but it's prevalent enough to warrant its own page. This trope is one of the more common causes of Anime Catholicism — if the inaccuracy is about something other than nuns, please place it there.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

  • Chrono Crusade: Sister Rosette. In the anime canon, it's explained that the Magdalene Order is actually comprised of many different religious branches working together for the common goal of combating demons. Rosette herself is a teenaged girl who despite her religious occupation doesn't have a religious vocation. (She joined the order because they were the only people who could give her the training and resources she needed to save her brother.) She even seems to think the handsome Priest will notice her charms one day.
  • The very first chapter of D.Gray-Man features the brother-in-law of an episodic character who is a priest who was going to be married to a nun only to have her killed pages in.
  • In Fire Force, the setting has a religion surrounding a Fire God of Creation and the Holy Sol Temple invokes clear cut Catholic Church aesthetics in its character and location designs, but Sister Iris can be seen performing purification rites such as washing one’s body in meditation and prayers straight out of Shinto beliefs.
  • From Hayate the Combat Butler, Riza is a Miko, Sister Fortesia is a nun, the sister is definitely calmer.
  • Hellsing:
    • Downplayed. Yumiko "Yumie" Takagi behaves very much like a Catholic nun and her only noticeably Japanese traits are her name and penchant for wielding katanas. She even has a Welsh (or sometimes Scottish)-sounding accent, which is likely the result of being raised by a Scottish priest.
    • The Vatican's Iscariot Section XIII consists almost exclusively of orphans who were raised by Father Anderson, so it's not surprising that members would come from all over the world. And it's shown that Anderson (who's a bayonet-wielding knife wielder) gifted all of his students with their individual weapons, so Yumie's katanas are probably a homage to her Japanese heritage.
  • Seira from Kaitou Saint Tail is a part-time "nun-in-training" after school, and wears a white nun's habit — all analagous to a miko's role, but antithetical to nundom. Tachikawa Megumi admits in volume notes that she didn't do her research after being corrected in a fan letter from an actual nun.
  • In Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens, Zange acts as one since her host body, Hakua, is the daughter of a Catholic priest. No, she's not some illicit lovechild. Her being a daughter of a priest is treated in the same way as daughters of Shinto priests, who are not required to be celibate.
  • Michiko & Hatchin has the male equivalent in Hatchin's foster-family from Hell. Her foster-father is a Catholic priest living with his wife and two children.
  • A variant, unrelated to use of special powers: In My-HiME, there is a small Roman Catholic church seemingly staffed only by a single priest named Father Joseph Greer (probably intended to be American) and a single Japanese nun, Sister Yukariko Sanada, with no other "functionaries" of any kind. This setup is a lot more plausible in a Shinto temple than in a church. In the end, Sister Yukariko is seen no longer in a habit, very pregnant, but somehow still in charge of the two new nuns, Miyu and Nao, who are part timers while they still go to school (Also, one of them is a Robot Girl. You have to wonder about the theological implications...).
  • Similarly, the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing manga Episode Zero shows that Duo Maxwell, who inexplicably wears a priest's collar in the series, once lived at a church staffed by a single priest (Father Maxwell) and nun (Sister Helen), who are killed in the war.
  • Misora, Cocone, and Shakti in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, who wear ridiculously short habits. Then again, they do have to fight in those things, so a shorter length may be preferred. In one chapter, she was put in an even shorter habit, and was less than pleased about it (if only slightly so). That said, the church they are part of at least superficially resembles an actual church; there's a Confessional, at least. It doesn't get used like a confessional is normally used, but that's more because the girls are unfamiliar with it, and because a mischievous nun (Misora) was on the other side.
  • Despite being a romantic comedy with the "nun" as half of the lead couple, One Pound Gospel downplays this trope by making Sister Angela a novice nun (an in-training nun who has yet to take any vows) and by making a large part of her character arc being having to choose between her calling and her developing romantic feelings towards co-lead Kosaku. However, she also takes confessions, which only priests are allowed to administer. There's also some Deliberate Values Dissonance at play, since it's a Running Gag that Kosaku, who's not very well-informed about Christianity, doesn't understand that being a nun isn't like being a miko and thus he can't pursue Angela romantically.
  • In Petite Princess Yucie, one of Yucie's many short-term part-time jobs is as a nun. Not only is this position treated as a part-time job, the real nun who teaches the "petite princesses" is not above flirting with boys who visit the establishment, something that would normally be considered scandalous.
  • In School Rumble, Yakumo's British friend Sarah Adiemus appears to be a nun on an after-school, part-time, volunteer basis. Part of her duties include hearing confessions, which is actually only done by a priest or bishop. And we later find out that other teens periodically come into the confessional to ask for relationship advice.
  • Yumina from Sound of the Sky is a Miko-Nun living in a Shinto Church - just look. It is interesting to note, though, that Yumina acts more like an actual young Christian nun than most anime "nuns", providing spiritual support (or trying to) and running an orphanage. The fact that the series' world is a hybrid of multiple cultures don't help.
  • There is a nun in an episode of Those Who Hunt Elves. She not only has demon fighting powers, she uses a staff with a Star of David on the end. Then again the show is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink.
  • Witch Hunter Robin:
    • There's a male example — Robin's mentor, a Catholic priest, has a daughter. While this is possible note  it is very rare.
    • Meanwhile, Robin herself directly says that she's never really considered whether she believes in God or not, quite a feat for someone who was raised in an Italian monastery and prays daily.

    Comic Books 
  • In an anime-inspired western example, the comic book series "Warrior Nun Areala" by Ben Dunn.

  • The title character of A Certain Magical Index is a very young un-nun-like nun whom others politely refer to as "Sister-san." She serves the Church of England rather than the Catholic church. Regular nuns in-universe are an organization of female spell casters.
  • In Haganai, 10-year-old Maria Takayama (who's also a teacher) and her older sister Kate are both nuns, but the way their positions work seem much closer to being mikos, since their family's women don the habit as a long-standing tradition and it's treated like more of an after-school job. Later it's revealed that Maria is neither officially a nun nor a teacher; Kate just brings her to school with her because there's no one to look after her at home, and she makes Maria wear the habit because it's cute.
  • Trinity Blood features a number of women who are apparently meant as nuns of a sort, including the very well-endowed, overtly seductive Noélle Bor and the demure — yet-gun-toting — Esther Blanchett. Oh, and on a related note, the series also features Catherina Sforza, a female cardinal.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Ganbare Goemon: Recurring antagonist Sister Bismaru, supposedly Ebisumaru's French Catholic descendant, is a Creepy Crossdresser who looks like a mix between a nun and a miko.
  • Harvest Moon: The games play with this. Their religion isn't Christianity, but it's a mix of Buddhism and Catholicism. You can't marry any of the priests or nuns, but one of the games teases you by letting you court a nun... Only for her to turn you down.
  • Most of the cast of La Pucelle Tactics. It is justified in that one of the cast is the founder of the church, and as such could make whatever rules for the order he wanted. It should also be noted that this is not standard in the game world: La Pucelle is a special order of demon hunters belonging to a specific church; it is the only church with such an order and not all of it's members are initiated into La Pucelle.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia has Caren Hortensia, who comes to take over the Fuyuki Church since Kotomine's no longer around. While dressed as a nun, she's taken part in exorcisms (a natural ability to detect demons helps), has no problem falling in love, and openly uses seduction techniques in her work... there's pretty much nothing at all in her character that relates to actual nuns.
  • Exaggerated in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations. In keeping with the games' hamfisted localizations from Japan to the United States (or occasionally Europe), the shrine maidens of Hazakura Temple are renamed as "nuns". Nothing else about them is changed.
  • Sekai of Season of the Sakura is an aspiring nun who helps out in the local church, even wearing the robes of a nun, which is not something she should be doing since she hasn't actually taken vows yet and won't take the vows in the end if the main character chooses her to be his girlfriend.
  • Ciel from Tsukihime. However, the organization she belongs to (the Burial Agency) is arguably the most heretical part of the Church, where faith is secondary to actual power. She does dress up as a nun on occasion, but she says that it's all for show and doesn't actually mean anything.

    Real Life 
  • Tertiaries (members of third orders) are a bit closer to the Japanese miko. They are not bound by the cloistered life, nor do they take a vow of celibacy, living both single and married lives. Historically, both male and female members wore religious habits like their monk and nun counterparts, though nowadays they wear normal civilian clothing due to job obligations.

Alternative Title(s): Nuns Are Miko