Record of Ragnarok: Why was Buddha’s backstory altered?

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Buddha’s backstory in Record of Ragnarok has been altered from its original backstory. The legend of Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment is different from what has been shown in the Record of Ragnarok, and the anime lacks the period and the process of his attainment of Nirvana. Buddha, according to the historical and religious texts, is different in form, ideals, and manner. According to the traditional studies of Buddhism, Buddha’s departure from his home to find the ‘truth’ is also known as the Great Renunciation or the Great Departure.

Buddha’s origin story in Record of Ragnarok – a quick recap

Buddha’s origin story in the Record of Ragnarok is very flamboyant and glorified. He has been considered a God and a deity and has been shown as a man with too much confidence and an abundance of charm. Buddha’s story in Record of Ragnarok also shows that his enlightenment was actually triggered by the death of King Jataka.

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Lord Buddha in Season 2 of Shuumatsu no Walkรผre. (Image credit goes to Yumeta Company, Graphinica)

The differences between Buddha’s backstory in Record of Ragnarok from that of his original story are also necessary tools in the modern context. The backstory in Record of Ragnarok is essentially attractive and it is because the audience needs a chilling hero to admire, and not a traditional philosopher in a shonen anime.

How is Buddha’s backstory in the Record of Ragnarok different from the original story?

Buddha in Record of Ragnarok is shown as a God but one who attained enlightenment or Nirvana without asceticism. He is shown to have attained Nirvana in the anime due to the tragedy of his brother’s death and not due to his journey through suffering. Moreover, his journey of leaving home and attaining enlightenment was portrayed during the early years of his life, which is a deviation from the original story.

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Lord Buddha in Season 2. (Image credit goes to Yumeta Company, Graphinica)

Buddha’s original backstory suggests that he left home at the age of twenty-nine and he attained enlightenment at the age of thirty-five. He was also an ascetic and his attainment of Nirvana before reaching the eight paths was also a result of his extreme asceticism and the suffering he witnessed among the people when he left home.

Is the deviation of Buddha’s past in the Record of Ragnarok a necessary tool of narration?

Buddha’s backstory has been altered in the Record of Ragnarok due to some necessary conditions.

  • The anime attempted at making him a popular character, a person of charm and appeal, which is necessary for any character in the present times.
  • The audience would like to have a character who is charismatic and cool, not a philosopher and a sage who is devoid of worldly pleasures.
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Lord Buddha’s fight with Zerofuku. (Image credit goes to Yumeta Company, Graphinica)

Buddha’s story in Record of Ragnarok is also an attempt at making him a fun addition to the narrative. Unlike the traditional texts of Buddhism, he differs in perspective and attitude, which is a necessary deviation for the audience to be interested in a shonen adaptation. Buddha has been portrayed as a carefree God who takes the side of humanity, but it is because the anime adaptation of Buddha had to be an inclusive arena to portray his wisdom and also his humanness.

Conclusion

Buddha in Record of Ragnarok is different from the Buddhist texts and historical anecdotes. He is a cool and carefree God, unlike the one we have known through religious teachings. Buddha’s past has been altered to cater to the demands of the shonen scene, and therefore, we are provided with a God who is much more human than we could have actually imagined.

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