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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Ana Ishikawa
Shi


A long-time Shi (who even sent us photographs of their Shi tatoos) characterized She's religious affiliation this way: "Shi is torn between her mother's Catholic religion, and her grandfather's training her as a Sohei warrior."

Shi's father was a Japanese Buddhist. Her mother an American Catholic.

Shi regards herself as a believing Catholic Christian.

From: "Shi" page on "Independent Heroes from the U.S.A." website (http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/s/shi.htm; viewed 2 May 2006):

Real Name: Ana Ishikawa
Known Relatives: Catherine (mother), Shiro (father, deceased), Yoshitora (grandfather), Toro (brother, deceased)
Aliases: Death (Shi is Japanese for death)
Base of Operations: New York
First Appearance: Shi: The Way of the Warrior (Crusade Comics)
Powers/Abilities: Trained assassin, deadly martial artist skilled with use of swords.

History: Both her father and grandfather had been sohei, trained warriors who belonged to an ancient and secretive Japanese order dating back to the year 778 and the temple of Enryaku. But Ana Ishikawa's life should have followed a different path. Her father Shiro had given up the path of the warrior when he met Ana's mother Catherine, a Catholic missionary, at college. Unfortunately others weren't willing to let him retire so easily; the Yakuza sent an assassin, Masahiro Arashi, to kill Shiro. Attacked at home, Shiro proved more than capable of defending himself, and would have come out best in the encounter had not young Ana distracted him at the wrong time. When Ana's brother Toro came to his father's defence, he suffered the same fate.

Ana grew up with the guilt of these deaths on her conscience, and although her mother was opposed to it, Ana's grandfather Yoshitora taught his surviving grandchild the ways of the sohei. By day she studied, eventually going to the Inagaki School of Art and Design in Kyoto, but by night she honed her combat skills. When Ana finally felt she was ready, she began the hunt, planning to avenge the deaths of her father and sibling. She dressed in red battle garb, and disguised her face with white paint, inspired by the legend of Yuri Ishikawa, who as Tora No Shi (the Tiger of Death in Japanese) had been the heart of a revolt in 1637 that had fought against the Emperor's repression of Japanese Christians.

Ana's ferocity on the hunt, combined with her resemblance to her legendary predescessor, gained her the title Shi (Death), before her conscience and morality finally won the battle with her thirst fo vengeance. Having succeeded in getting Masahiro sent to prison, Ana renounced killing and tried to take up a normal life again, working as manager of the Oike Gallery in New York. Her sense of justice remains though, and she continues to don her other persona whenever she feels that innocents need her help.

Comments: Shi was created by William Tucci, founder and owner of Crusade Comics.

From: David Wade, "Culture Watch: Holy Warrior Nuns, Batman! Comic books take on the world of faith and spirituality", published in Sojourner Magazine, July 2004 (http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0407&article=040738; viewed 6 June 2006):
One of the most interesting examples of the Christian message in comics is found in the character Shi, a young biracial woman. Her father was a Japanese Buddhist and her mother an American Catholic. After the murder of her father, young Shi is raised by her grandfather to become a vehicle for vengeance. But just as Shi is about to take revenge on her father's killers, the Catholic teachings of her mother return to her and call her away from a life of violence.
From: "Shi Cards - 1995" page on "William Tucci - Shi" website (http://www.crusade-fan.com/cards/shi_cards_1995.html; viewed 6 June 2006):
The Way of the Warrior is a straight and undeviating path. For Ana Ishikawa, the rod to vengeance begins with meditation. Only a centered spirit can carry her to her destination and yet her soul is torn by conflicting desires, by competing ways.

There is a sea that only the heart can Navigate. Upon its farther shore, beyond the cares of yearning humanity, Fuji serenely beckons. But, on this sea of dreams, tranquility is an illusion, for at any moment the unwary soul may find herself tempest tossed.

Suffused with the sprit of the Samurai, she flings open the doors to the city, hurling herself into the arms of the night; into the darkness of blood and pain; into the oblivion of violence, into the glory of vengeance. No w there is no Ana, There is only Shi, and Shi means Death!

...As a gesture of honor, not Sadism, Shi decapitates her mortally wounded adversary. Indeed, Shi remarks this is the only mercy one Samurai can show another, assisting the vanquished in departing this life as quickly as possible. The 'Shi' symbol appropriated from Arashi as her calling card, provides the only variation on this tradition...

Nothing is more important to Ana than the reaffirmation of her faith through prayer. Even after, or perhaps especially after a devastating battle. A contradiction? Not for Ana, who mediates on The Good War. This concern developed by Catholic theologians, helps to justify the taking of life for an honorable and selfless cause...

Ana's mother, Catherine, represent to her all that is spiritually pure in life... and all that stands in opposition to The Way of the Warrior. A Christian missionary arriving in Japan from California in the late 1960s, Catherine broke several cultural taboos when she married Ana's father: Not only an Asian Buddhist, but a Sohei warrior to boot!

...It is Shi's Christianity that allows her to emerge victorious in the allegorical battle against her darker half. She experiences this vision of herself rising to the surface of her baptismal waters, reborn. Her joyous passage toward the light of the Father mirrors the journey the soul takes when ascending to heaven.


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Webpage created 2 May 2006. Last modified 6 June 2006.
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