OP: 「MYSTERIUM」 by SCREEN mode
「主の支えによりて我は目覚める」 (Omo no sasae ni yorite ga wa mezameru)
“Through God’s Succor, My Eyes Are Opened”
Christianity, Western supernaturalism, and anime. Any combination of two of these is already uncommon as is, but then comes along Vatican Kiseki Chousakan to truly claim the black swan award. This was one show I had my eye upon since researching it, it tickled all my fancies, had one too many similarities to Dan Brown’s work, and possessed a very competent staff. Obviously I expected great things, and thankfully, VKC looks set to fulfill them. Well, mostly.
Probably the first surprise when looking at VKC is how realistic it is. Most Christian-themed anime is rough when it comes to the mythology—at best—but VKC is remarkably adherent to its foundation. Specific biblical information, key anomalies (stigmata, virginal conception), basic Catholic Church structure, all are largely represented as they exist in real life. Even more shocking though is how loyal the show is to actual Roman Catholic miracle investigation. For all the archaic symbolism, the modern church is quite stringently scientific when it comes to miracles, and of late refuses to even consider the validity of one unless the scientific community cannot come up with a reasonable answer. This dichotomy is perfectly represented by Joseph (Okamoto Nobuhiko) and Roberto (Suwabe Junichi), who use blood tests and hypotheses of IVF alongside anachronistic counters all in the same breath. It’s a surprisingly strong base, particularly when noting the attention to detail in things like language or clothing. VKC’s setup certainly raises my hopes the later parts of this show won’t fly off the rails.
Where the risk comes here, however, is likely in story. For all VKC’s adherence to actuality, parts of this episode felt disjointed with noticeable rushing and some dubious balancing between fact and pretentiousness. With all the interest built up in the murdered priest and satanic cult for example, there’s also the (arguably) excessiveness in the blondie’s love of the divine, and Joseph’s clear joy in celebrating the will of God. Yes it’s a religiously themed show, but I quite like the Simoun approach where faith is a more subtle and low key, but no less powerful, affair. Also doesn’t help matters when the yaoi undertones are being teased like mad and a distinctively Mexican church features some very non-Latin named clergy and laity. To be fair though, some of these aspects could factor in later, especially when we have three (or four) potential miracles popping up simultaneously and a corrupt church clearly looking for fame and/or fortune. Simple satanic worship aside, Catholic sainthood is determined by miracle working, making it not unlikely a few opportunistic clergy got the bright idea for some popularity by conveniently manufacturing one. Just ask our sausage loving sister. She’s not sending a message at all, no definitely not.
While not the strongest of openers, VKC has laid the groundwork for potentially greater things to come. We have a surprisingly good foundation, a mystery plot with some teeth, and the likelihood of better things to come. Sure it could all spectacularly implode later on, but so long as VKC can match this basis with good execution, it’s got my full attention. Definitely sticking around to see what next week brings.
ED: 「サクラメント」 (Sakuramento) by Nobuhiko Okamoto