One of the mixed blessings of having children is that parents get to watch a lot of cartoons. Sometimes, if the cartoon is terrible, then this is a curse. However, other times if the show is tolerable to good then it is a lot of fun to enjoy the story with children. A cartoon that my kids have really been enjoying is Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. This super hero cartoon really mixes up the standard children show formula by adding in a lot of anime inspired animation and sit-com style hijinks.
Every episode has a similar plot structure. In every episode someone finds themselves angry, hurt, or upset about something. Sometimes they just got a bad break, other times someone was malicious to them, and still other times they are just being prideful. This negative attitude catches the attention of the shows main villain Hawk Moth, and he sends his evil akuma (a butterfly) to seek the person out. Through the power of the Akuma, Hawk Moth offers the person the opportunity to get revenge or somehow right the wrong against them. In exchange for this power he wants the person to get the Miraculous from Ladybug and Cat Noir. The Miraculous is what gives the titular characters their super powers. From this point the newly empowered villain causes chaos, Lady Bug and Cat Noir fight the villain. Normally Ladybug saves the day through the use of her lucky charm and then everything is restored to normal. Finally, true to its family sitcom influences everything gets wrapped up in a cutesy way that makes a moral point. As far as cartoons that are aimed to young children go, it is a decent show. This is why the show has gained a diverse, international audience. It is also why the show is gaining in popularity.
After watching this formula play out a few times with my children, I noticed a strong scriptural connection. Every time that Hawk Moth offer someone power, he does not force himself. He always gives them a choice, and the show always shows people agreeing. As soon as this happens the person is transformed and becomes a super villain. The villains that Ladybug and Cat Noir fight are always normal people who were offered a choice. When they were hurting, angry, or upset they were offered the choice to be evil and they took it.
It seems that one of the presumptions of Miraculous is that everyone has the capacity to be evil. This lines up closely with some of the teachings that are found in scripture. In Romans the apostle Paul writes about the sinful nature. In Romans 7:20 Paul writes: “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Like the everyday villains of Miraculous, all of us have the capacity for evil and wrong doing in us. In our times of distress and weakness, we are quick to turn to evil for selfish gain, prideful conceit, or vengeful justice. We may not cause the property damage that a super villain does, but we all have the capacity through our words and actions to do real harm to another. Unfortunately, at some point or another most people have made the choice in some way to do just that. One of the real appeals of Miraculous is that the villains are relatable, because we know that on our bad days we could easily be the villain.
The scriptural connection goes a bit deeper. In the show, Ladybug and Cat Noir beat the villain by finding where the evil Akuma is hiding, catching it, and the “de-evilize” the person. Again, we find this to be a good illustration of the Christian experience. In our case what needs to be de-evilized is our hearts. The prayer of the psalms is “create in me a clean heart.” Further on in the seventh chapter of Romans Paul wrote this: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God who delivers me through Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Humanity is created in the image of God, but we are also fallen into sin. It is through Jesus that God offers to de-evilize us, free us from the bondage of sin and offer us grace. At the end of every episode, Ladybug’s Miraculous power restores all of the damage caused by the villain, and the person is always forgiven for their wrong doing. This is a beautiful representation of grace. Our own evil and sin separates us from God, but when we confess our sin and allow Jesus to “de-evilize our heart” then the eternal consequence of our wrongdoing is made right and completely forgiven.
In Romans Paul also wrote, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from dead to life.” Like the villains in Miraculous, we offered the choice to do evil or not. By the truly miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose not to but instead live like Jesus. When we do this, then we are one of the heroes.