Brockway: It’s Anime Week and this may sound crazy, but did you know not all anime is healthy? It’s true! The pure of heart may only use anime to say sweet things about penguins and age of consent, but some people take the medium that’s seen more shredded child panties than Jordan Peterson’s dentist… and they see the potential for evil!
Let’s talk about the cult that uses anime to recruit the kind of sad nerds that would join a cult.
Seanbaby: An anime made by a cult is actually good news for me. Part of why I don’t like Japanese cartoons is the confusion. I never know if they’re weird for artistic decisions or pervert confessions. However, if a cartoon explicitly means to indoctrinate viewers into a cult, that gives me a way to judge it. I can measure its success strictly by how much I want to join! Soon I will either hate a thing (great) or will have given my light over to a prophet who makes little cartoons (greatest).
Brockway: Happy Science, or The Institute for Research in Human Happiness if you’re nasty, is into some pretty standard cult stuff. They think there’s only one god, El Cantare, but he’s been reincarnated as the god of every other major religion, which is why those poor chumps are so confused. And hey, wouldn’t you know it? His latest incarnation just so happens to be the leader of Happy Science, Ryuho Okawa.
Seanbaby: You can’t teach this kind of graphic design. It can only be cursed upon you by a typography demon. If I killed a room full of people, I would hold this up and shout, “Are you wondering how I knew? The second I saw this card I knew I wasn’t on Earth anymore and none of you were real.” I’m not saying I’m a hard no on this cult, but I’m worried they’re going to see “Bachelor Degree from Unaccredited Art School” on my resume and they’ll make me Exalted Vicar of Pamphlet Layout forever.
Brockway: You put a Drop Shadow on that book and you’re second in command, for sure. Anyway, standard cult gibberish applies here: Happy Science believes everyone must follow the four principles of happiness, all of which can presumably be found at the end of Ryuho Okawa’s cock. There’s some goofy shit about reincarnation, biblical angels and demons, aliens, the segregated levels of the afterlife – if you’ve ever had an extended bus stop conversation with a man wearing suspicious sneakers, you know where this is going. The only thing that really separates Happy Science from other, more boring cults is their recruitment method: Producing weirdly high quality anime movies.
Seanbaby: “High quality” is a weird way to describe this. I’ve been watching it for forty minutes and a Jesus guy has been levitating to voiceover the whole time.This feels like something a small Missouri church would throw together to recruit the town’s new Burmese family.
Brockway: What? Are you talking about Thomas Edison? Did you just describe Thomas Edison as a Jesus guy? Nobody has ever said that except for probably Thomas Edison, all the time. To be clear: We’re watching The Laws of Eternity, a 2006 anime by Happy Science that actually marries cult recruitment nonsense to anime nonsense in a shockingly compelling movie.
Seanbaby: Wait, holy shit, your anime has a Thomas Edison? Oh no, I see what I did. I didn’t read your whole email. I just Googled “cult anime,” and watched something called Chouetsu Sekai by a cult named Aum Shinrikyo.
Brockway: Ooh, you need to duck out of that immediately. Anime Week is dark, but it’s not that dark.
Seanbaby: What do you mean? There’s apparently more than one cult who made recruitment cartoons! We have to talk about that, you do yours and I picked the one by the guys… who did… oh no, the Tokyo subway sarin ga– you know what? Let’s do yours.
Brockway: The Laws of Eternity opens in the near future. Ryuta is our main character who has a destiny instead of a personality. With him are Patrick, the waifish blonde skeptic. Roberto, chubby and black and therefore comic relief. And Yuko: Girl. We find them at the New York Thomas Edison museum eagerly discussing Thomas Edison – like all the coolest teens!
Thomas Edison didn’t just invent IP theft and a solution to the elephant problem, he also invented the spirit phone – a thing that doesn’t exist and could never work.
“But what if it did, and could??” Asks this anime…
With the mouth of an old Native American woman possessed by the spirit of Thomas Edison.
Brockway: Thomas Edison slipping inside a Native American woman is traditionally covered up by a blackjack and a friendly contact at the police station, but this time it’s a smokey teepee. In New York City. Don’t question it! This is a cult movie: It’s for you to practice not questioning things.
Thomas Edison needs your help, Japanese teens!
He needs them to build the spirit phone, which they do through light banter and a montage. It’s how MacGyver would build a compass out of desert plants, but two minutes of sparks and drawing on a chalkboard are all it takes to breach the barrier between life and death. They dial the underworld, and somebody named God Eagle answers.
SPIRIT TIP: If you dial the underworld and somebody named God Eagle answers, do not trust it! You are plucky teens in a JRPG and you just met the first form of the villain.
Seanbaby: “Children! It is me! Your 2nd president, Thomas Edison! Okay, listen. I need you to find an elephant and then hook it up to these car batteries so I can settle a bet with fucking Tesla’s ghost. And when you’re done, obviously don’t trust God Eagle, you dumb shits!”
Brockway: But they do trust God Eagle, and his voice guides them into the spirit world. He takes them to the Fourth Dimension, which just looks like a Midwest downtown. Skeptic waif Patrick freaks out a bit at being trapped in the afterlife, and in a fit of rage he crosses a line by saying comic relief Roberto has “an easygoing face.” It seems like a nice way to compliment a dog, but judging by how Roberto responds, this is a racially charged statement in Japanese. Instantly, a door to hell opens beneath them and they are both deservedly sucked into it for the respective crimes of:
- Saying somebody has a casual face.
- Minding your casual face being pointed out.
Luckily God Eagle is here to save the day!
And he flies the boys straight out of hell like a Meatloaf video. He’s actually a kind of an ancient Inca hawkman, which one could have guessed by the name. But these teens are fucking floored by God Eagle’s true form. We make fun of Golden Age secret identities a lot, but if you’re surprised that somebody named God Eagle is a winged Inca, you’re the type of dude who squints at the screeching copyright attorney in the next office and says “so you think Hawk Manning is actually Hawkman, eh? I don’t see it!”
Seanbaby: I made God Eagle’s business card to clear up any confusion about what his deal is and how focused I am on this cartoon.
Brockway: It turns out this city is actually a kind of purgatory, a place for the dead to accept they’re no longer alive, which explains why it looks like Cincinatti. God Eagle becomes the teens’ spiritual tour guide, and he walks us through Happy Science’s wacky beliefs.
They journey through a field of golden flowers to a movie theater which shows a soul their entire life in front of a judging audience. I’m pretty sure this cult stole its beliefs from an Albert Brooks movie, which is actually Step One for tricking me into a cult.
Seanbaby: God Eagle has watched everyone fuck, every single time they’ve fucked. Look at him. They should have known from the second they talked to him on Thomas Edison’s ghost phone. If someone named God Eagle picks up the phone, they’ve been watching you fuck.
Brockway: God Eagle casually mentions that over half of all people go to hell, but considering that Roberto and Patrick dropped down there within their first three minutes, and it was for the crime of observing a facial expression, I’m betting he fudges those numbers.
Seanbaby: If you consider how their souls are being weighed, a very long movie being filmed from their eyeballs, anyone who spends too much time looking at lame ass Roberto would be judged pretty harshly. God Eagle would be like, “Here is where you watched Roberto finish a pizza. And here’s you searching for ‘pizza messy xxx’ later on bing.com. So you can see how my hands are tied here.”
Brockway: I actually assume all teenagers are going to burn in hell, I’m just saying it’s nice to see a cult actually show it. They’re really nailing my demographic.
Hey, speaking of: Next the group travels up to the 5th Dimension, the Realm of the Good, which looks a lot like France but there are biiiig cucumbers.
Seanbaby: “Hello, God Eagle, and cursed souls! We pull the luscious shafts of nourishment peeking from the underbrush! Like the handjobbing of our great leader, Ryuho Okawa!”
Brockway: This is definitely mental priming. This is what cult leaders call “brain lube” and Interpol has a special anti-propaganda division to combat it with pictures of withered eggplants.
Let’s leave the Throbbing Plane for the 6th Dimension, which is unlocked by your dreams and ideals. It’s specifically for inventions and full of nerds who love working, so your goal here is definitely to be the kind of happy firm-gripped dipshit who lands in the Cucumber Dimension.
Seanbaby: So they just left a bunch of nerds in an Invention Dimension with unlimited resources and Thomas Edison’s ethics? There’s no way they don’t bomb that farm dimension out of existence with cucumber-seeking poxrockets by the next Comet Phase.
Brockway: That would crash the handjob economy, you fool!
Let’s burn right past the Nerd Floor. At the 7th Dimension, we start getting exclusive: Ryuta and Yuko must cure ten seriously ill people before entering, while Patrick and Roberto aren’t allowed at all. It’s just like Corey Feldman says to every lost young woman at the Burbank Greyhound station: The VIP floor is for angels only, and to become one, you’re going to have to do some very sick things.
Seanbaby: It’s funny you say this, because a being of pure light just handed me this:
Brockway: Patrick and Roberto aren’t missing much. See, the 7th Dimensional angels are really all… successful businessmen.
Hey, maybe I missed the part where the dude who started Toyota walked with Jesus and cured a dozen lepers, but he is specifically called out by name as being up here. This level of heaven is only for CEOS who have contributed to Japan’s prosperity, like Thomas Edison.
Don’t question things! Questioning things is how you get the Green Therapy.
Seanbaby: I was wrong about this making more sense coming from a cult. I have no point of reference for how to think about any of this. I feel like a French Lick prom queen getting off a bus in Burbank and being grabbed by the driver who tells me, “I’m Corey Feldman. I’ll pay you 30 bucks to play bass guitar in your underpants at a bowling alley tonight, take it or leave it.”
Brockway: Oh, you’re in trouble. Those were the grounded parts. You need to roll with this or you’re going to have an aneurysm. For example:
Yuko meets a were-swan.
This is heaven, you can be whatever you want! So live your best life…
Seanbaby: Did that fucking swan just say, “I’m Hellen Keller?” This cartoon rules.
Brockway: Hell yes it does! Let’s check back in with Patrick and Roberto…
Haha back to hell, boys! If you ever have a negative thought, no matter how innocuous or petty, you go straight to hell. And I mean STRAIGHT to hell. Pratfall trapdoor screaming right into hell. Heaven is not safe. You are never safe in heaven. This entire afterlife is just the Twilight Zone cornfield with sparkly anime paint.
Seanbaby: Are we sure this is from a transgression? Helen Keller might have laid an egg on the trapdoor button.
Brockway: Yet another reason to love Helen Keller and her delicious eggs.
All right, back to Ryuta, exploring Business Heaven with Thomas Edison. Here’s some fun facts they don’t teach you about Thomas Edison in grade school…
Thomas Edison is every inventor in history, and personally came up with everything from the gramophone to written language. Uranium refinement? That’s Edison. The rotary engine, lava lamps, faxing? Edison, Edison, and weirdly enough, Alexander Bain (Alexander Bain was Thomas Edison). Hey. That little Rubik’s Cube snake thing? This is gonna fuck you up: Thomas Edison.
Seanbaby: “My child, I was even the Shamwow guy who attacked that lady. In fact, that’s usually who I appear as on the ghost phone, but I was in a Thomas Edison mood the day we talked. Anyway, could you let everyone know that is not what I had in mind when I invented what you call toilet paper?”
Brockway: Thomas Edison has a problem: Without him doing all of science by hand, the field is growing stagnant. Can you believe, for example, that we’re not burning ghosts for fuel? Purely a for-instance here, but it is crazy that we’re not mining the spirit world for clean energy! Maybe you could use a hypothetical to understand this problem: Imagine we were not drilling for ghost crude when aliens showed up. They would think we’re ridiculous.
In fact, if the modern world doesn’t wise up and start trapping ghosts in bottles and shaking them to power our blenders with their spirit-screams, Thomas Edison is going to destroy all of science.
Seanbaby: “Spirituality and science are two faces on the same coin,” is something a Republican state senator would say to explain why he’s making it illegal for blacks to own cats. Decades of religious insanity have been boiled down to what we’re looking at here.
Brockway: See, these cult recruitment spiels always start off kinda reasonable – there are four pillars to happiness, there are themed tiers in heaven, one of them is business and the other is cucumbers. Don’t have negative thoughts. Whatever. But it’s always the same: At the midpoint turn in the second act they threaten to bomb technology unless it invents a ghost turbine. And then, once that first little bit of true raw crazy has slipped out, it’s like a cascade failure in a dam.
Seanbaby: Speaking of extinction-level-event infrastructure failures, it’s about time we trace this cult’s lineage back to some kind of ancient but advanced civilization.
Seanbaby: There it is. Pour that stupid wet bullshit into my mind, Happy Science.
Brockway: Your brain is as primed as it is ever going to be, so it’s time to just vomit nonsense on you and see if you wanna call the cops or are maybe game to live in a yurt. Thomas Edison explains that Thoth, Osiris, Buddha – all of them are actually Happy Science’s god, El Cantare. All gods are the same, like all inventors are Edison. Only this god lives in the ninth cosmic dimension, and we can’t go there. But we can still see eight if we hop in the spirit elevator Thomas Edison invented to move between realms, so let’s hurry up and hit Door Close because Toyota is coming this way.
Seanbaby: “Guys, hold the door! It’s me! Toyota! I adapted the automobile into the sensible, affordable product you know tod– awww, they must not have heard me.”
Brockway: *faint snickering moving upward*
Up to the Eighth Dimension! Which is also for nerds! Turns out when you let a nerd invent heaven a lot of it is bully-free. Here, Ryuta meets Einstein. Now, Einstein is a little coy about it, but eventually he does admit what we all suspected: He has the power to shapeshift and duplicate endlessly into a ghost army of Einsteins.
It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve already dropped into the Seventeenth Dimension of hell (Always Phone Calls) just for thinking that. Hey, speaking of: Patrick and Roberto have been abducted by demons! The rest of the movie is a classic high-stakes anime fight to save them! Fuck yes!
Seanbaby: They don’t show it, but I’m certain that whenever Einstein breaks up into infinite Einsteins, they have to battle to the death until only one remains again.
Brockway: Oh, assumed. And the remaining Einstein absorbs all of the other’s power. Einstein is nobody’s bitch. You are his.
Okay, where were we? Right, unsettled by a heaven that is made up of interlocking Lego Einsteins, Ryuta and Yuko drop into the levels of hell. First to the World of Strife, a kickass metal lava apocalypse for murderers and anybody who raised their voice.
Seanbaby: Like all awesome neighborhoods, it’s only a matter of time before this place gets gentrified. Because if my theory is correct and my math is sound, this place will be mostly Einsteins by the next Pulsar Sequence.
Brockway: If you’ve ever envied people or tried to get a promotion, you go to the inescapable data center where you have to work forever for no pay. I’m not sure how this is different from the entire future of anybody under 30 today.
Seanbaby: So to get the best chance at one of the good afterlives, you should invent something that kills someone, but not anyone at work. That’s good news, because from bigfoot traps alone, I’ve probably done this many times.
Brockway: You can have Nerd Heaven. Because The Hell of the Bloody Pond is for anyone who likes to fuck.
Maybe a lot of folks will be unhappy living in the crimson fuckpond, but if you can name three Gwar albums this is just your ideal waterpark.
Seanbaby: This isn’t really anything. It sort of feels like Great Leader Ryuho didn’t know what to do with the Fuck Hell.
Brockway: Demons live below all of that in a hell that looks like Greenland. And that’s where Patrick and Roberto went, for the crime of two seconds of low-key sulking. Where they are being tormented by that infamous demon…
He’s insufferable! Can you imagine having to hang out on some rocks with fucking Nietzsche forever, talking about existence and the abyss until you’re just like “fuck! Nietzsche! Have you tried drinking water and taking a walk because it’s usually that!”
Seanbaby: I bet when Nietzsche arrived in this miserable place everyone was like, “Save it, Fried. We all know the kind of shit you’re going to say.”
Brockway: Also Hitler is here. And they say you can’t take it with you, but Hitler did take his giant demonic war elephant with him.
Seanbaby: “I’m Hellen Keller, but the times she accidentally grabbed a titty,” reveals the beast.
Brockway: Hitler and Nietzsche pilot Helen Keller the kaiju together with the joint power of their minds. You probably already knew that. Back at Cracked we wrote a lot about the telepathic battle mammoth that Hitler and Nietzsche timeshare. 5 Beasts You Didn’t Know Decided WWII. 6 Mammoths You Won’t Believe Were Hitler’s. 5 Baffling Mental War Pachyderms History Doesn’t Want You to Know About. We’ve learned all about it, but here we are doomed to repeat it anyway – once again at the mercy of a ruthless German’s elephant.
And Nietzsche’s so pumped about this he starts shouting his catchphrase, “God is dead!” over and over like he’s trying to get the club to join in, but they’re not feeling it.
Seanbaby: “God is dead! God is dead! God i– oh, we’re not doing that? Fine. We’ll Nazi elephant rampage in total silence, I guess. Such is the relentless despai– oh, we’re not doing that either? Guys, what the fuck. Why am I even here then?” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Brockway: Don’t despair, have you forgotten our heroes have the clean-burning energy of the spirit realm and, oh yeah, THE RIGHTEOUS POWER OF THOMAS EDISON’S ANGELIC FIGHTING MECH ON THEIR SIDE?
Yeah, haha. You forgot, didn’t you? That Thomas Edison keeps mason jars full of battlemechs like a dieter might keep a selection of homemade soups in the freezer. Yep, Thomas Edison just cracks open a jar labeled ANGEL X-1, and then his mech blasts into hell to do battle with Friedrich Nietzsche and Adolph Hitler’s tandem psychic war elephant.
Seanbaby: So from the perspective of the cult, did this already happen? Or is this something they’re worried about? I love that I don’t know. But here’s something I do know, Hitler: you don’t bring an elephant to a Thomas Edison fight.
Brockway: Oh, never count a good Hitler out! By absorbing the evil thoughts of his damned soldiers, Hitler powers up to unleash his patented Flaming Elephant Hitler Blast!
Seanbaby: Once again, this cult leader inadvertently wrote a really good sales pitch for the bad guys. “Join me and I’ll take your darkest thoughts and turn them into kaiju fireballs! That’s the Hitler Promise.”
Brockway: Drop that beat, Nietzsche!
Seanbaby: You suck so hard, Nietzsche.
Brockway: This is an anime, so you know the power of friendship is going to save the day. You probably knew that. But this is a weirdo cult anime, so I bet you didn’t call that Yuko would use the spirit energy of Helen Keller to summon a mystical robot shield.
Look, I don’t know how to explain it, but I understand this. If Hellen Keller were a type of magic in an anime, she’d be an energy shield you summon by yelling “disappear!” She was completely blocked from the world by the lack of two major senses, and she was largely abandoned by medical science at the time. Helen Keller Disappear Magic Robot Shield. I get it, maybe I’m just being brain-groomed by this anime cult, but I do get it.
Seanbaby: “It’s Hitler! Everyone get behind Helen Keller!” – Ryuho Okawa, Professional Cult Leader
Brockway: The power of Yuko and Ryuta’s bond summons a blazing sword for Thomas Edison’s Angel Mech so it can obliterate the psychic war elephant, which creates a mental feedback loop that banishes Hitler and Nietzsche. I’m not saying you understood why that sentence exists, but you did understand that sentence – you followed the progression of those words in that order. Which means you need to be very worried, because you’re being brain-groomed, too.
Seanbaby: I was on board the second I saw that swan fly in. I said, “I swear, if that bird turns out to be Helen Keller, I will stand behind her, any time, any Hitler fight.”
Brockway: The kids escape hell in the hands of Thomas Edison’s battle mech, which has to be a metaphor for the importance of education to inner city children, but in doing so they punch a hole in the floor of heaven, which lets the demons out. Ah, see? Gentrification.
Seanbaby: This is the worst thing I can imagine. A gaping hole in a private club for the wealthy elite where dirty people who fuck can crawl through. It’s exactly what Hitler wanted all along!
Brockway: They’re fucked. Our heroes are fucked.
Nothing could save them now.
Except you forgot again, didn’t you?
You forgot about Infinite Einstein.
Seanbaby: Oh, right! The unlimited floating Einsteins– the 158th most insane thing in this movie. I did forget about them.
Brockway: God Eagle directs the power of heaven’s shapeshifting multi-Einsteins, and with it he blasts a mountain (there are mountains in heaven because mountains never have negative thoughts) and drops it straight on the demon army.
Seanbaby: Ha ha that’s it? The unlimited power of the wealthy elite killed them all with a display of unlimited force? Problem solved?
Brockway: Problem solved.
You’ve done well, Thomas Edison. You lent your giant spirit robot to Japanese teens so they could thwart a German philosopher. The prophecy has been fulfilled. You can rest.
Seanbaby: It’s really lucky those sinful kids died at the perfect moment to see all this.
Brockway: I guess vaporizing Hitler with Thomas Edison’s sword isn’t just the finale of National Treasure 3 – it was also the secret to unlocking heaven. The Ninth Dimension is available to Ryuta and Yuko now, though they risk obliteration by traveling there.
If you know anything about story structure, you probably predicted the ending. If you strip away the setting and characters, it’s the same basic plot as Casablanca. Our heroes fly away in an energy pyramid to be consumed by the holy void, saying goodbye to centaurs and mermaids while a ghost sings about their invisible souls, then they meet Jesus Christ and Isaac Newton in the golden universe, where El Cantare the omni-god blasts them with Atlantis rays so they can remember the lost knowledge of man.
Like if Ryuta gave the “hill of beans” speech right as Isaac Newton powered up the Atlantis Ray, they would be identical endings. You get it. The centaurs are America.
Seanbaby: Hell yeah they are. We’re the centaurs, those mermaids are Korea, and it’s time for tensions along the 38th parallel to heat up.
Brockway: Now, clearly me and Seanbaby are sold. We are all in on joining this cult and Ryuho Okawa, the supreme incarnation of El Cantare, has earned all the blowjobs he wants with that Nietzsche war elephant fight. But it’s not all sunshine and Thomas Edison laser blasts: Ryuho Okawa might channel awesome dudes like Jesus and Nostradamus most of the time, but he’s also been known to channel Donald Trump, who is the spiritual opposite of a Nietzsche war elephant fight.
Seanbaby: God damn it, that guy ruins fucking everything.
Brockway: Happy Science fiddles with nationalist bullshit, too: They’re all for denial of Japanese war crimes, remilitarizing Japan, and going nuclear. At the start of the pandemic they also sold “Spirit Vaccines” to cure COVID-19. They did not work, and Happy Science had to hide behind a legal loophole, like Thomas Edison’s battlebot might hide behind a Helen Keller energy shield, to avoid prosecution (Hitler’s flaming elephant blast).
Seanbaby: But we still get the blood lake and the mermaids, right?
Brockway: I’m not saying don’t join the cult! By all means let’s join this cult. You’ve seen the anime. It rules. I’m just saying let’s play it slow here and, at least at the start, stick to handjobs for Osiris.