Attempting to Understand The Laws of the Universe Part 0
One of the secrets to successfully building a cult is finding a supply of new and dedicated members to feed the operation’s financial stomach. Through tight organization, successful marketing, and the continued exploitation of the financially and emotionally vulnerable, even a small collection of individuals spouting insane ideas can grow into a massively profitable international corporation. The most famous example of this formula is in the Church of Scientology, a cult which shares many similarities to the organization behind the creation of The Laws of the Universe. This is both an anime movie series and cult propaganda campaign aimed at westerners. For the record I will be using the terms film and movie only out of convenience, because what I will be discussing today is not artistic, but blatant propaganda, something that I will soon show you.
Officially labeled as a trilogy, The Laws of the Universe is slated to be split into four parts with only the first two movies having been released. The Laws of the Universe: Part 0 details the events preceding those of the following trilogy, two of which haven’t even been created yet. Since this was the first of the series to be released, premiering at the L.A. Awareness Film Festival in 2015, I can only assume that the guy who made this doesn’t know what a “prequel” is.
The movie starts in media res with a girl walking in the woods in the middle of the night. Suddenly, she’s engulfed in a purple light from a UFO and abducted by the ship. The next couple scenes introduce our main characters and supposed conflict, following five average high schoolers who have boring and awkward conversations about the characters’ study habits. Pay attention, this becomes very important later! I think. We meet Ray, who looks like a trace of the protagonist of The Boy and the Beast, and is voiced by Spiderman. Blond boy is Tyler, voiced by Sasuke, Girl #1 is named Anna, the one with the afro is our nerd stand-in named Eisuke, Girl #2 is called Halle but more importantly, she looks like a cancer patient wearing a really bad wig. Wig Girl’s sister is named Natsumi and is voiced by Hinata-also-from-Naruto. All these characters have extremely simplistic designs, reminiscent of secondary characters from low budget shows from P. A. Works. All backgrounds and objects are CG, which becomes very glaring when the camera does static or wide shots. Characters will only be animated if there are five or less people on screen, otherwise they will be switched to 3D models. Any animation present is minimal and is mostly 3D. During the 2D shots, characters are almost never on-model, despite there being minimal movement. The CG is no better either. It features a copy-paste model with barebones cell-shaded details drawn on top. The model must be stock because on further review I discovered that the exact same model is present in crowd scenes for several other anime including 2014’s Parasyte The Maxim.
Now that we know who everyone is, back to the story. Natsumi meets up with the gang while they’re eating and immediately collapses on the ground for no apparent reason. After taking her to the nurse’s office the cast heads to class where their homeroom teacher is yelling at them. He’s heard rumors of students sneaking out at night to get some extra studying in at cram school. The horror. While the teachers are trying to figure out who these dastardly hooligans are Ray and Tyler return late and are met with mockery by the other students for their tardiness. During this scene there’s a weird echo filter that has been placed over one of the students’ jeers that is never addressed. At first I assumed it was an audio mistake made by the uploader but when comparing the video against the subbed version I found on another site I discovered that it is actually a part of the dialogue.
The next two scenes are more conversations about schoolwork. Wig Girl breaks down and cries because her sister said that she’s been having a hard time focusing on her schoolwork lately. This calls for an intervention where the group agrees to head to an abandoned shack in the woods for some reason to talk to her. (I am 90% sure this shack is traced from the hangout of the main characters in Anohana.) When we get there, everyone gathers around Natsumi who is seated in a chair in the center of the room. The door is locked, lantern is lit and this random guy in a lab coat named Mr. Yoake walks over and tells everyone that he’s going to use Age Regression Hypnosis on the little girl, forcing her to relive her past trauma until her studying problem is fixed. Mr. Yoake states that since Natsumi doesn’t know why she can’t study anymore, she clearly has acute amnesia and her suppressed memories need to be uncovered even if he needs to go into her past lives to retrieve them.
The following excerpt contains actual lines from that scene:
Yoake: “Can you grasp onto it?”
Natsumi: “Ah…yes…I can feel it! It’s small but it has a big head!”
[She blushes and thrashes her head around]
Natsumi: “Ah, no…it has an enormous black eye! [She throws her head back] I can’t…”
Yoake: “It’s fine, just take it slow.”
[He puts his hands on her as she clenches up]
Natsumi: “Mmmm…It’s doing…something strange to me… [panting] AHHH!”
[She arches back and spasms before going limp in the chair]
Halle: “THAT’S ENOUGH MR. YOAKE.”
We’re twenty minutes in, and a little girl just came in a folding chair. It’s at this point that Mr. Yoake gets out of his seat and announces that Natsumi was the girl abducted by aliens in the opening scene, and that she has been caught in the middle of a cold war brewing between a secret race of evil lizard men and the Galactic Alliance. This led her to have a microchip implanted in her brain which allows for perfect memorization but because she can’t study anymore, her procedure must’ve been interrupted, giving her mild amnesia. His iron-clad explanation is immediately accepted by everyone in the group. The main cast whole-heartedly accepting that aliens exist and are out to get them is a running theme throughout the film. During class the next day it’s revealed that Mr. Yoake is not only a new transfer student but teaches a lecture that everyone in the school attends, much to the surprise of the main cast who apparently had no idea who Yoake was despite bringing him over to psychically molest the sister. I watched this movie twice, went to the cult’s website and read up on their religious doctrine just to get my facts straight but Yoake’s lecture is still incomprehensible.
The basic premise of the lecture is that ancient aliens are real and seeded earth with life, forcing evolution in hominids to model our species in their image. There is also a god that created the universe and it hid subliminal messages about the secret to the afterlife inside the world of geometry with five sided shapes having the greatest divine potential. The key to unlocking the secrets behind polygons is the Fibonacci Sequence, although it is never explained how this mathematical curiosity relates to pentagons. If all of this seems dubious to you, Yoake has you beat stating that asking for evidence to support a hypothesis is enough to discredit yourself. “The absence of proof is not the absence of proving the opposite through our current standard of measuring most facts. It may be that humanity simply doesn’t have the scientific capability to prove it. Science is about unraveling the unknown. I don’t believe we should deny the unknown or turn away from it entirely. I believe we should treat it as the goal of our inquiries, that is where the heart of a true scientist resides.” Inspired by Yoake’s speech, Ray decides to center his thesis for his upcoming research project on “exposing the secrets of those aliens that abducted Natsumi!”
When instructors chastise the group, telling them to take their research project seriously, Ray concludes that the aliens may be controlling the teachers. Nerd Boy continues stalking the men’s bathroom for hot new leads on the aliens and ends up overhearing two students discussing meeting up for a new cram school. Thinking that this is clearly code for alien abduction, he tells Tyler who follows the students out that night only to get abducted himself. When he returns to school the next night all beat up and wearing sunglasses for some reason, he tells the others that he was whisked away by a spaceship of busty blonde women. Every other member of the group then casually drops mention that they were abducted by aliens that night too, each describing different types of aliens and arguing over who saw what. It is during Wig Girl’s testimony of being kidnapped by astronaut monkeys that we learn of our villains: the reptilians.
According to the monkeys, there is a secret network of intergalactic terrorists who all belong to a single species of lizard people. These lizard people are evil and go from planet to planet brainwashing and subjugating the populace. The lizard people have come to earth to take it over and have already integrated into every level of society, even going so far as to create the countries of Russia, China and the U.S., building them up into competing superpowers so that one day they might go to war against each other and bring about the apocalypse all as part of a complex plan to oppress Japan who they believe to be the only country capable of conquering the planet in their stead. Did you get all that?
The rest of the group is shocked to hear this and Ray promises that he’ll never let the lizards win. He then goes back to his room and sees that the drawer on his desk is unlocked. He’s now convinced that the aliens have infiltrated the school and are onto him. After a montage of the cast staying inside over summer break to work on their UFO project the day finally comes and Nerd Boy has lost the file containing the group’s presentation. Ray gets angry and curses the aliens for their cunning. Without options, he decides that he’ll wing it claiming that an off-the-cuff presentation will be more impactful to the audience. He’s laughed off stage after he shuts down when someone asks for him to show supporting evidence for his claims. The criticism reminds him of Yoake’s lecture, which renews his easily shattered resolve. He gets into a fight with a teacher who comes up to pull him off the stage when suddenly the two of them are abducted by a horned metal sombrero.
Once inside, the pair are taken on a trip around the moon by an eight foot tall goat man and his crew of Roswell Grays. Naturally he’s an ambassador for the Galactic Federation who congratulates Ray on his brilliant research skills and chastises the teacher for being part of a system that willingly ignores truth. Goat man takes the two to the dark side of the moon where we see the moon’s metal vagina being implemented as a thriving intergalactic space port under the control of the Galactic Federation. He also explains that the reptilians have a base of their own on the moon and are using it to conduct clandestine operations on Earth. You see, humans never went to the moon and instead NASA has been receiving faked data about space by the lizards in exchange for positions within America’s military industrial complex for the last 50+ years. He hands the teacher a piece of moonrock as proof that all of this is real before teleporting them back to the exact second that they left. Ray then describes what happened to his friends and shows them the moonrock. Elated that they finally have a shred of evidence, they call up Mr. Yoake to analyze the rock as he’s also a world renown geologist. But when they try to show him the moonrock, it’s gone missing. Ray and Tyler conclude that the reptilians aren’t just tailing them but have infiltrated their group. This causes Natsumi to suddenly burst into tears asking everyone for forgiveness saying that she probably did it because of the microchip implanted her brain. She runs off to kill herself and everyone else leaves the room to be sad in their own corner of the school. It’s at this point we come to our second montage where an alt rock song about being sad is played in its entirety.
At the end of the music video everyone makes up and decides to continue researching aliens. Suddenly, the five are abducted by another flying saucer where they meet a giant wasp that can turn invisible. He says that he has been abducting/stalking Afro Faggot because he uses the guy’s body to watch anime and hentai. He takes them to Alpha Centari where they crash land in front of a castle. The bug transforms the cast’s clothes into fantasy world robes and they go inside the castle. The giant wasp explains that this is an elite university where aliens learn about the cultures of other planets and that the reason Earth faces conflict is because they still hold onto antiquated social constructs like individuality and evidence-based science. They peak in on a lecture where the professor is talking about how backwards Earthlings are stating that they have foolishly chose to divide themselves into different nationalities, languages and personal beliefs.
After this the gang is picked up by the blonde woman who abducted Tyler. She takes the five onto her ship explaining that not only is she an alien, but that all white people are aliens as well. In addition, aliens are also time-travelers and multi-dimensional beings which is how they can abduct people and take them on these intergalactic trips without any time passing. She says that in order for the five to become enlightened and know the “ultimate truth” they must first connect with their “true selves”. Neither of these terms are explained in the movie nor are they really explained in the books Ryuho Okawa writes because he plays fast and loose with definitions. Because of all that, my best guess for ultimate truth is that it’s in reference to exposing the existence of the evil lizards in the world. True selves is a little more complicated because it’s related to this whole Buddhism idea of reincarnation except in this case it’s combined with Christian ideas of heaven and hell which means that if you’re bad you can get reincarnated in hell. Essentially when you die your soul gets copied and one version gets to chill out in the afterlife being called on by whoever wishes to channel you while your copy gets reincarnated. Also there’s time travel shenanigans in this because of the multi-dimensional thing meaning that multiple reincarnations can and do exist simultaneously and interact with each other using the spirit world as a go-between. Once back on Earth, Tyler and Ray talk about their dreams, repeating what they had said at the end of the last scene. The next day Mr. Yoake shows up and the five tell him about their intergalactic field trip. He congratulates the group and tells them that he has just completed a machine which allows humans to communicate with extraterrestrials because the plot demands it.
How many dimensions can we cross in the next ten minutes?
Because his own theory behind the machine is incomplete, he wishes to test it on human beings. He had tested it previously on animals, but it wouldn’t even turn on in those tests. This lead him to the realization that it only works on humans. Our heroes activate the machine which flings them into another dimension where they all meet their true selves (except for Natsumi because she sucks). Most of the group are met by younger versions of themselves who exist in other dimensions, aside from Eisuke who wishes that he had been rich and famous and is answered by himself dressed as a Victorian aristocrat wearing a top hat. Then Anna asks where they are and her younger self says that it doesn’t matter because anything is possible. Then everything turns into PS2-quality CG and the characters are standing on a pillar of ice surrounded by waterfalls with a giant bestial ice sculpture in the background. (This is not explained. Instead, the child berates the five for still holding onto their old beliefs. She states that according to the laws of science, everything that they are currently witnessing would be impossible, therefore they must abandon the concept of what is possible and focus on what is impossible because that impossibility secretly holds the greatest potential of possibility.
They come back to Earth and ask Mr. Yoake if his experiment was a success to which he replies that he doesn’t know. His machine was only supposed to be some sort of intergalactic radio and not only did it transport them all somewhere else, all the data that they had been collecting of the journey was mysteriously deleted upon their return. Hearing this good news, the gang heads to the school festival where students from the new Genius School cram school have kidnapped Natsumi and are holding her hostage until she becomes able to study again. Dark clouds form as the Genius School Students perform their sacred ritual to give Natsumi photographic memory. The gang races to rescue her but are stopped by the school janitor who appeared for ten seconds in a previous scene. A reptilian UFO appears out of the CG clouds as the janitor reveals that he was the lizardman behind everything all along!
The sombrero returns as goat man and the intergalactic Aryan stand on the steps of a campus building to bravely do absolutely nothing. Lizardman makes his cackling declaration as lasers shoot out of the ground forming an hourglass-looking symbol in the sky which summons a larger spaceship that begins to fire beams at the ground. The Galactic Federation aliens gasp, shouting that the reptilian has summoned Daharrl and he’s pulling the Earth into the Dark Side Dimension. What does any of this mean? It’s not explained. The protagonists get hit by one of the purple blasts coming out of this Daharrl thing and end up in another world except everyone is reptilian. Ray suddenly transforms into a gay knockoff of Devilman and starts fighting the countless lizardmen as the others run for higher ground. He fights them off until they’re saved by a fire-breathing dragon who flies out of the Dark Side Dimension. The five gather in formation under Daharrl and begin to pray to the God of Light. They fly into the sky and go back to the world of gold that was seen before. The God of Light congratulates them on passing the final test and sends them back. They pray harder as their bodies begin to glow and a laser star is formed above them before shooting upwards at Daharrl, destroying it.
The day is saved and the lizard janitor is pulled back into the UFO to face punishment for his failure. Everyone is happy and congratulates each other on obtaining power of the ultimate truth. Mr. Yoake reveals that he was an alien all along and was sent by the Galactic Federation to help humanity combat the reptilians. The student’s homeroom teacher also makes a big reveal stating that he was the dragon who saved the five of them only a paragraph ago. He was born a lizardman but after realizing that the reptilians worshipped an evil deity, he disavowed his heritage and was turned into a dragon by the God of Light. The scene fades out and we have a stinger at the end where the president of China gets a call from the U.S. president and we see Xi Jinping wearing a ring with the reptilian symbol on it. Roll credits.
Formerly called the Institute of Happiness and Research, Happy Science is a Japanese cult based out of Ogama prefecture claiming tens of thousands of members spread across ninety countries including multiple bases here in the United States (which is hilarious considering Okawa’s belief that America is run by lizard people). Co-founder and self-described eternal living buddha Ryuho Okawa is the face of Happy Science, helping to write the doctrine, give lectures which are compiled at frequent intervals into books. These books are one of the main sources of revenue for the cult since their purchase is mandatory for members. For members within the cult, these books must be bought in addition to regular donations and promotion of the organization by the congregation. Okawa claims that he is an author of over 2,500 books since 1997 but in actuality, he has only released one book which may or may not have been ghostwritten by his ex-wife. All other books are transcriptions of sermons that he has made over the years and are fraudulent in their own right. If you go online and find one of the Happy Science books, you will discover a summary and chapter titles that give incredibly detailed descriptions of the content.
Looking at the table of contents makes the books seem like Okawa is pumping out hundreds of pages of new material every few months but in reality, the content of any book is condensed in the first few chapters. Happy Science self publishes so there aren’t any publishers looking through each book to see that most of it is missing. Another interesting bit of fraud on the part of Okawa is that he used another cult to promote himself. Okawa claims that he is a survivor to an Aum Shinrikyo VX attack on July 7, 1995, the same date as the release of his first book and Bible equivalent; The Laws of the Sun.
For those unaware of the story of Aum Shinrikyo I recommend reading a book or two on them because the shit that came out of that cult is insane. The basic premise behind Aum Shinrikyo is that they were a Japanese anime and science fiction based death cult bent on sucker-punching Japan into launching an attack on the U.S. thereby kickstarting WWIII and bringing about the apocalypse. During the 80s and 90s they rapidly grew in size and influence, fostering loyal members in every level of Japanese society from the Diet to NPA to JSDF. They also began accumulating stockpiles of drugs, guns, an attack helicopter, chemical and biological weapons and over a billion dollars in cash with their coup de grace coming in the form of a self-made nuke that was weeks away from completion by the time that they were raided. They also conducted everything from drug production and weapons trafficking for the yakuza to assassinations and human experimentation on those who spoke out against them. In March of 1995 they carried out their most infamous crime, a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. This left 14 dead and hospitalized over 1,000. During the following months the Japanese police conducted thorough raids on all cult compounds which triggered scattered chemical weapons attacks in response. And in turn, Okawa claims to have been targeted by one of these attacks because of his desertion from the cult following the subway attack but as it turns out he took the identity of the real victim who died from VX after he heard about the story on the news. He then used this news story to promote the sale of his book and bill himself as blessed by the almighty.
One of the interesting things I discovered while researching Happy Science dealt with the organization itself. Although it is a Japanese cult, the largest congregations are situated outside of Japan. The colony with the most members is located in rural Uganda where the organization takes donated food and supplies and use the resources to undercut local NGOs, giving meals in exchange for membership. There are accusations that the local chapter has been using the aid they supply to extort money out of locals and keep members from leaving, even going so far as to blackmail deserters. I don’t know how true these accusations are because there isn’t a whole lot of information on the cult that doesn’t come from their own members, but these accusations apparently were substantial enough for the cult to respond to them in an about us section on their own site.
After watching Part 0, one has to ask, if the film designed to help break in new members is that insane, what’s their standard religion like? Like many cults before him, Okawa is grasping at straws and incorporating whatever is on his mind at the moment into the group’s beliefs. The very basic belief structure of Happy Science is a haphazardly put together mess of Christianity, paganism, ufology, and militaristic ultra-right-wing nationalism slapped onto a Buddhist core. Pinning down exactly what Happy Science members believe at any point is difficult because Okawa will frequently change his own mythos, sometimes completely contradicting his previous claims.
The story starts with their creator god named El Cantare who is this amorphous mass of energy that can shapeshift. He is both one and many gods because Happy Science believes that the gods of all other religons are just El Cantare in one form or another (except for the Nordic religions because their Gods are all fake and the real god in their religion is Yggdrasil which is also El Cantare). Ryuko Okawa is El Cantare made flesh and is El Cantare’s latest incarnation. Most incarnations have never made it to Earth however aside from a few select examples, these include:
Heaven in the Happy Science mythology consists of Earth and the spirit world. In the spirit world, spirits enjoy the afterlife awaiting the next person to channel them. Only individuals who have enough spiritual power can channel spirits or even believe that a spirit is being channeled, therefore all who doubt these teachings lack power. You need this power if you are to save yourself form becoming a puppet of evil spirits or aliens from other dimensions. The most common of these threats are the reptilians. They come from a destroyed solar system in another galaxy and want to conquer earth by brainwashing humanity into rejecting their existence. This is achieved using coordinated psychic warfare and electronic disturbance from microscopic receivers embedded in the skulls of their targets. Most people are being controlled remotely by the lizards, however there are some that willfully side with them: Americans, Chinese and Russians. If you belong to any of these nationalities then your fate was sealed when you born, being switched out at birth with a disguised reptilian version of yourself and raised as a human. There is an exception to this rule within the Aryans. If you have blond hair then you are actually descended from a different group of aliens who are the complete opposite of the lizardmen and you need to join Okawa in his fight to save the Earth at once or else shame your space-faring ancestors. The reptilians themselves are inherently violent, hedonistic, untrustworthy and have an innate desire to rule. This genetic predisposition for galactic conquest makes them hate Japan because the Japanese are actually the strongest humans on the planet and the rightful rulers, had the lizards not chained them down with historical revisionism and a postwar constitution. The reptilians are also behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They realized that the U.S. couldn’t win the war and so they dropped the atom bombs knowing that such mass murder would horrify Japan’s high command that they would be forced to drop their plans and save as many people as they could from the rubble out of sheer moral compulsion.
In addition to one true god, Okawa is also his own prophet. He’s able to spread the truth of El Cantare and bolster his claims by channeling over 500 High Spirits of the high spiritual plane. These are spirits who have been past prophets for El Cantare and have fought to defend the Earth against alien and demonic invasion. These 500 are so powerful that only Okawa can channel them. The shortlist includes Jesus, Zeus, Moses, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Shakespeare and Isoroku Yamamoto. Okawa has even grown so powerful that he can channel the spirits of people who not only aren’t eligible to join the spirit world but are still alive! These people include Kim Jong Un, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Okawa provides commentary on a wide variety of subjects. Here is an excerpt from the forward of Basics of Exorcism: How to Protect You and Your Family from Evil Spirits: “When his wife died, he uttered a curse against God and turned into Dracula. In the context of Japanese Shinto, an exorcist would apply to be a yin-yang master; in the context of Buddhism, it would apply to the monk of Esoteric Buddhism who possesses magical powers.” Sometimes he’ll get political just like in his book about the 2016 election where he claims that Trump’s body is the vessel for the eternal Buddha and once Okawa dies he will return to Earth to claim Trump’s body, ascending to godhood, ridding the world of war and annihilating the Chinese and Koreans as punishment for their fiendish plot to portray Japan as aggressors in WWII.
I know I am only scratching the surface of this cult but everything that I have found has been simultaneously insane and weirdly engaging. Being able to dip my toe into the world of Happy Science has been a trip and a half. Be prepared for even more conspiratorial ramblings when I cover the next installment in the franchise: The Laws of the Universe: Part 1
As a treat for making it this far, here are screenshots of Okawa’s wonderful chapter titles.
The Secret Behind “The Rape of Nanking”: A Spiritual Confession by Iris Chang (Spiritual Interview Series)
What makes this “spiritual interview” so appalling is that Iris Chang was a prize-winning biographer and researcher who quite literally wrote the book on the rape of Nanking, documenting it in its entirety for the first time. In 2004 she took her own life after suffering a mental breakdown while on a research trip for her next book. To this day, Okawa has been making petitions and commanding members to run for office in the hopes that he can get Chang’s book banned in Japan.
What Really Happened in Nanking?: A Spiritual Testimony of the Honorable Japanese Commander Iwane Matsui (Spiritual Interview Series)
In this one he channels the commander of the Japanese Army’s China division. Matsui was convicted of war crimes relating to the massacre following the war, but died before he could serve out his sentence.
The Truth of Nanking and Comfort Women Issues: A Spiritual Reading into World War II by Edgar Cayce (Spiritual Interview Series)