hand shaker visual2© GoHands, Frontier Works, KADOKAWA/Project-HS

I’ll admit–when I first saw that the heroes of the extremely shiny anime Hand Shakers had to use the power of the Nimrod to defeat their opponents, I snickered. One Google search later, however, and I found out that “Nimrod” is an actual word (that doesn’t mean moron)–and it’s a biblical one.

While I’ve studied things related to Chinese religion and Judaism to a slight degree, I admit that the Bible has never been my strong suit. So when Hand Shakers is so determined to throw biblical references right and left, I feel as if I should really understand the origins of these words in order to grasp the connections between the show and the religious material it’s referencing.


Ziggurat


Image source: MF文庫J編集部@毎月25日発売! on Twitter

In the show: It’s the alternate reality space in which “Hand Shakers”–i.e., combatants who were chosen by God to hold hands with their partner in order to summon weapons and battle–fight. In this space, no beings except the Hand Shakers themselves exist. When a Hand Shaker is defeated, they are not killed–instead, they are sent back to the real world safe and sound.

Ancient ziggurat at Ali Air Base Iraq 2005

In religion: A ziggurat is a kind of giant building that once existed in Ancient Mesopotamia. It has been theorized that these were used for sacred ceremonies and were built in such a way as to protect the priests that went there from things like floods and spies. Ziggurats were like full castles, with bedrooms and bathrooms included.

The connection: Ziggurats were holy areas for those chosen by god (priests) to attend, and the buildings were made so that they would be safe. In the same way, Hand Shakers are chosen by god, and are safe within the confines of the ziggurat.


Babel


Image source: アニメ「ハンドシェイカー」公式 on Twitter

In the show: Babel is the holy land where all Hand Shakers seek to go to in order to have an audience with God–and then defeat him to make their wish come true. They can reach this land by fighting with each other until only one pair is left.

In religion: Babel literally means “The Gate of God.” Recorded in The Book of Genesis, it’s said that the Tower of Babel was a structure that was in the process of being built by humanity in order to reach the land where God resided. At this point in time, humans were able to all understand each other due to speaking the same language as one another. God, miffed at humanity’s arrogance, threw the humans apart from each other and forced them all to speak different languages so they wouldn’t be able to communicate anymore.

Confusion of Tongues

The connection: The Tower of Babel was created to reach “Babel,” a.k.a. Heaven, a.k.a. God’s pad. The land of Babel that the Hand Shakers aim to go to is also the residence of God.

There also could be a deeper connection–when humans lost the ability to speak to each other after losing their united tongue, conflict was born between the different tribes that were born. Similarly, characters that were once able to co-exist in harmony before becoming Hand Shakers–like protagonist Tazuna and businesswoman Chizuru (who would usually have no involvement with each other whatsoever)–are suddenly unable to talk things out and choose to start fighting instead.


Nimrod


Image source: アニメ「ハンドシェイカー」公式 on Twitter

In the show: Nimrods are weapons summoned from a Hand Shaker’s partner. In the case of Tazuna, he can summon a giant sword made of gears that can change shape.

Nimrod (painting)

In religion: No, the word doesn’t just mean “moron.” In the Book of Genesis, Nimrod is a person–the grandson of Noah who was also a king who rebelled against God, to be exact. In fact, he’s said to be the leader of the entire Tower of Babel project.

The connection: In Hand Shakers, the Nimrods are used as a method to cut down other combatants in order to reach God and eventually defeat him. Similarly, the Nimrod in Genesis sought to also overthrow God’s authority by building the Tower of Babel to reach him in Heaven.

Hand Shakers is streaming with subtitles on Crunchyroll. A dub will be available on FUNimation at a later time.

Comments (2)
  1. Wait, you studied Judaism, whose holy book is the Old Testament of the bible. And none of these terms are exclusive to New Testament.

    Am confused. Which sums up my feeling on Hand Shakers as well

    • ”While I’ve studied things related to Chinese religion and Judaism to a slight degree”
      “Slight degree”
      I did Judaism studies when I was a child weekly for years, but it hasn’t stuck with me very much (also, we most certainly didn’t learn about difficult topics like Nimrod). Thus, it’s definitely not my strong suit. I just wanted to connect the anime with the terms it’s referencing by doing some independent studying.

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