When I first moved out on my own, I was so poor I couldn’t afford both cable TV and Pabst. It was clear that cable had to go. Also food. Sometimes rent. I lived just a few blocks from my local Christian Broadcasting Network affiliate, so that was pretty much all I could get with the bunny ears. I spent many a late night watching Kirk Cameron fight Satan using… the internet? Maybe Satan was the internet? And Kirk Cameron was actually Mr. T? I can barely recall the programming, and I certainly learned nothing of Christianity. But while most of my memories of that era might be smeared across a Denny’s bathroom, I’ll never forget the cartoons.
Let us discuss SuperBook, the very first and quite possibly only Christian anime. I’m not sure if Evangelion counts, because I’m not sure what happened in Evangelion. Let’s say “only.” We’ll stick with only.
I can hear that image. The theme song for the first season was performed by a man who only had music explained to him, but never experienced it firsthand. There follows his two-minute long best guess. He stretches words out in the oddest ways, as though he’s watching someone just outside the booth give him hot/cold signals while he tries to zero in on “human singing.”
SuperBook wasn’t ‘anime-style’ — it was an actual anime. Written, produced, performed, and entirely confused by Japan. Christian anime! What a hilarious setup for absurdist jokes about what anime thinks Christianity is — “haha, where do they put the robot?”
That’s Gizmo the Crusader Robot and don’t worry, it’s not just a name. He will commit ancient war crimes before this article is done.
He’s there to protect Chris Peepers and Joy Quantum:
Our main characters, who were named by running a Silver Age Comics Secret Identity Generator and picking the bottom two results.
So what did Extremely High Young Brockway see in SuperBook? Was it the bizarre retellings of thrice-translated gospels? The weirdly shoe-horned antics of two anime children highjinking their way through Biblical tragedies? Was it the awkward dub that sounded like every voice actor was recording their lines from the bottom of a bricked-over well?
But mostly it was the pretty colors in the time travel sections:
That is primo early-2000s stoner fodder, up there with Winamp visualizations and scrambled Cinemax. I’m pretty sure Extremely High Young Brockway had some theories about those time travel scenes. I’m pretty sure he’d talk to you about them for 45 minutes before realizing you were his cardboard cutout of James T. Kirk.
Here’s the premise of SuperBook: Two plucky young children find out they can time travel… but only to bible stories. It’s one of those ironic genie scenarios. A ‘fine print on the devil’s contract’ kind of deal. You get a cool wish, but it’s followed by a really shitty ellipsis. These kids joyride time back several millennia and the first thing they do in every episode is trust the holy shit out of a stranger.
Here they are five seconds after meeting Gideon, and subsequently following him into his cave:
Here’s how he managed that feat:
He said, “Hello, I’m Gideon… it’s more pleasant in the cave.”
These children have never met a van floor they didn’t like the taste of. Murderers ask the pair to get into their Ford Taurus and before they can say “I’ve got candy,” Chris is buckling his seatbelt and Joy is stuffing her own sock into her mouth.
Here’s Joy and Chris, five seconds after meeting Job, and immediately following him to his house.
Here’s how Job managed that feat:
He said, “you must be strangers here, why don’t you come to my house?”
Every single episode starts with these oblivious children following strangely dressed men in order to watch atrocities:
Don’t pity those kids. Here is, no shit, what Joy had to say about those men above burning alive:
“The flames are beautiful!”
I think the original pitch for this series was about a Hard Candy-esque time-travelling vigilante squad, but the CBN cut all the best torture scenes. Not all of them, mind you. Just the best. Pity the suspiciously single men of The Bible, who were so sure they knew the face the devil would take.
Let’s check in on Job’s children, minutes after meeting Joy and Chris:
That scene caps with ten seconds of Job just brokenly screaming “oh my children!” over and over and over again. I’m not even slightly joking:
Even if these kids weren’t using time travel to hyper-typhoon the families of child-murderers, they are absolutely destroying the timeline just by existing and — oh yeah, introducing everyone in The Bible to a furious robot.
There’s none of that “what a strange looking boy this is!” stuff — Gizmo the Crusader Robot does not give a shit if you know he’s a robot. In fact, if you doubt it, he’ll show you. Here he is just straight fucking up some old-timey guards, firing rockets out of his head and at their faces until they flee screaming “No! NNNOOO! SORCERY!”
Gizmo’s extremely low tolerance for bullshit is why you’re reading this on a jellyfish inside your Magnodome. He destroys timelines like they’re Aramaic sex criminals, and if you even tried to explain the concept of consequences to him you’d wake up tomorrow with tanktreads for legs thinking ‘autonomy’ was the worst swear you had ever heard.
Let’s check out the Sodom and Gomorrah episode, that’s always my flagship for determining biblical cartoon hilarity, this one’s called…
Oh, n-no! He’s been watching! He’s in my chronology right now. I can feel my history bleeding! Gizmo, I knew not what I did! I wasn’t-