The cards appear often in fiction. Sometimes characters will get readings in series, as an easy way to bring in foreshadowing. Other times, they will build comedy around reacting to a bad reading. This use, though, isn’t always good. Often, people will misinterpret the cards or make fun of those who read them. If you’re looking for shows or even games that use tarot motifs correctly and respectfully, check these things out.
The Persona series is one of the most popular role playing games to come from Japan in recent years. Each game takes place in the same universe, but introduces a new cast so you can pick them up at any point. Persona 4, for the PlayStation 2 uses tarot motifs to develop the supporting cast.
As the main character of Persona 4 goes through school and part-time jobs, he makes friends with plenty of characters. Each one represents major arcana of a tarot deck. The struggles that they go through are representative of themes in the tarot deck. For certain arcana, you can also meet their shadow, characters that represent the reversed form of the card. For example, the character representing the Lovers is a young woman named Rise. Of the characters, she is the one most forward in her affections. As you get to know her better, though, other themes become clear. Rise struggles to understand who she is. She must reconcile the differences between the cheerful pop idol she has been acting as, and the shy schoolgirl she once was. The handling of the other characters and themes show a nuanced understanding of the cards.
Though it was only a brief inclusion, The Simpsons had a lasting effect on tarot. In one episode, Lisa Simpson gets a reading. While she is incredulous, the reader proves knowledgeable. The Death card turns up, and they explain it in a proper manner. The next one to turn up is the Happy Squirrel. Though this card did not exist, it was only a matter of time. Decks started printing it as an optional card. While the show gave it no meaning, the humorous nature of the card helped give it meaning. The Happy Squirrel is a reminder to have fun and not worry about things too much.
Themes of the tarot has appeared onstage, as well. Famed circus Cirque du Soleil uses skills such as acrobatics and tightrope walking to tell stories. Each play has a protagonist who must journey through a magical world. In the case of Zed, the characters feature a tarot motif. The main character Zed is the fool. He sets out to unite the people of the earth and sky. Each of the major players he meets represents another arcana. The performance is breathtaking, with elaborate costumes.
Unfortunately, these beautiful performances are short lived. Zed ran for several years in Japan before closing. For those who want to see a piece of the development, the documentary Zed in Tokyo is available. The soundtrack is also available for fans around the world.