Buddhism and Fandom

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See also: Judaism and Fandom, Christianity and Fandom, Islam and Fandom, Religion, Atheism and Fandom
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Specific Fandoms

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: though set entirely in a fictional world, the cultures depicted draw heavily on many real world countries and cultures mostly in East and South Asia, but also from around the world. The Air Nomads, in particular, are mostly inspired by Tibetan Buddhism.[1]. Some fans incorporate these Buddhist elements into their fanworks, and may even expand on the Budhhist cultural elements and themes in the original (e.g. by incorporating Chinese and Japanese Buddhist practice into works about the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation).
  • Journey to the West (and many more modern works inspired by it, such as Dragon Ball, Saiyuki, The New Legends of Monkey) is legendary telling of bringing Buddhist foundational texts to China, and as such deals with central tenets and cultural ideas of Chinese Budhhism.
  • Cupid's Last Wish is a 2022 Thai drama in which the characters must journey to five Buddhist monasteries in a week. Buddhists monks and ceremonies are prominently featured in canon
  • Inuyasha prominently features Shinto and Buddhist practitioners (in the latter category, Miroku the Buddhist monk)
  • Yu Yu Hakusho[2]
  • Land of the Lustrous's depiction of Buddhist themes has generated vigorous debate within the fandom.[3]
  • Star Wars: the principles of the Jedi Order are partly inspired by Buddhist teachings.[4] Some fans feel the series misrepresents the Buddhist principles it draws on, or puts them in a negative light..
  • Madoka Magica is often interpreted by fans to have strong Buddhist themes.[5]
  • Saint Seiya has Virgo Shaka, a character who is a Bodhisattva and is considered the closest man to a god.

Other Canon Representation

Fandom Activity

Fan Communities





  1. ^ Some posts by atlaculture examining details in the show that are inspired by Tibetan culture, religion, and history: What's in a Name: Air Nomads, Cultural Fashion: Religious Hats, Cultural Practices: Avatar Relics, Cultural Architecture: Air Nomad Architecture Pt 1
  2. ^ Cultural influences/mashups and shenanigans, and an alternate reading for Hokushin, meta by maiji. Posted 2 October 2022.
  3. ^ Criticism of the series' presentation of Buddhist theme by dragonkeeper19600, post 10 December 2021.
    Some examples: Analysis of Ch. 97, Archived version by king-paimon, posted 27 July 2022.
    Analysis comparing the events of chapter 99 to The Four Sights of Buddha, Archived version by weebookey, posted 25 November 2022.
    Commentary on fannish response and lack of familiarity with the Buddhist teachings that the series engages with, Archived version by pitchlag, posted 28 July 2022.
  4. ^ Some links about this: Quote from George Lucas presented in a 1997 Star Wars Zine, The Conversation, The Human Front, Contemporary Buddhism, Polygon (specifically about The Last Jedi).
  5. ^ one example, Archived version, discussion by azdoine, anarcha-catgirlism, and others. Links to other discussions that draw more on the Christian themes in the series.