Eight Anime Recommendations for Christian Viewers

Note:  This page has been replaced by a reformatted and more up-to-date listing.

One question Christian anime fans frequently ask is, “Is there such a thing as a Christian anime?”  As I mentioned in the FAQ, besides Tezuka Osamu’s collaboration with the Vatican, The Flying House, and perhaps another exception here or there, the answer is “no.”

But, that doesn’t mean that “Christian anime” is an oxymoron.

It’s not unusual to see Christian symbolism in anime.  Some series even place a central focus on these symbols, though some (like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Toaru Majutsu no Index) controversially depict these elements.  Instead, anime can be viewed through a Christian lens.  Although the series may not refer directly to the Christian God or to Jesus, important themes in Christianity are ever-present in anime, including grace, sacrificial love, being just, seeking to do what is right, turning the other cheek, and finding that there may be a higher being in the universe.  Below are eight shows that contain some or several of these qualities, or which espouse other themes related to Christian spirituality.  This list will expand as I watch shows which I think are befitting of it.  The newest additions are Puella Magi Madoka Magica (4.28.2011) and Ookiku Furikabutte (5.31.2011).

 

The List

Eden of the East

Takizawa and Morimi

Though the title may indicate a religious anime, the series is more of a mystery, romance, and action story, which touches of comedy.  This intelligent show follows a young man, Takizawa, who has lost his memory and is caught up in a game to become the “Savior” of Japan.  Vocabulary related to religion, particularly Christianity, abounds in the story.  One can also find strong symbolism regarding some of the characters.  Eden of the East contains some violence, foul language, and brief nudity.

Related Links:
Finding the Invisible God in…Eden of the East (Part 1)
Finding the Invisible God in…Eden of the East (Part 2)
Finding the Invisible God in…Eden of the East (Part 3)
Finding the Invisible God in…Eden of the East (Part 4)
Review: Eden of the East – The King of Eden
Review: Eden of the East – Paradise Lost

Haibane Renmei

angel anime halo wings

Perhaps the most overtly Christian series on the list (for as much as that means), this series focuses on angel-like entities known as haibane, who are born into a world where they work and live among human townsfolk.  This beautiful work can easily be viewed as a Catholic vision of the afterlife and features heavy emphasis on the ideas of sin, grace, forgiveness, and love.  It’s a powerful work that I believe should be at the top of a Christian otaku’s viewing list – indeed, it’s a become a classic for any fan of anime.

Related Links:
Orphans That Never Knew Their Names: Haibane Renmei and the Power of Names
Interview with Daniel Cronquist, Writer of Set Apart
Review: Set Apart by Daniel Cronquist
A Guide (No, Two!) for Jumping into
Kure-nai, Haibane Renmei,and the Weight of Sin

Kino’s Journey

Kino's no Tabi

Anime episodes are often self-contained, and this is especially true of Kino’s Journey.  The fable-like story follows the title character as she travels from country to country in an unknown world.  The show is wonderful at expressing the human condition in all it’s sin and depravity, but it also reveals the beauty of the world and of people.  There is also a particularly powerful moment involving a Christlike sacrifice that plays a very important role in the series.  The show contains a lot of violence, though little (or none) of it is graphic.

Related Link:
Secret Santa: Kino’s Journey
Kino-pocalypse Now…Or, It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Ookiku Furikabutte

Art by DraNKa (Pixiv)

A baseball anime?  Oh, it’s much more than that.  One of the best series in the genre of sports anime, Oofuri is chock full of themes that are ripe for application in the Christian life.  The show explores ideas such as courage, character, friendship, strength, transformation, and selflessness.

Related Links:
Pitch to Contact! Teammates and Character Transformation in Ookiku Furikabutte
Swing With All Your Might! Courage, Loss, and Renewal in Ookiku Furikabutte
“Please Rely on Me!” The Break and Unmaking of Promises in Ookiku Furikabutte

Puella Shoujo Madoka Magica

Madoka Kaname

Pixiv Artist Nuage

What starts out as a slightly atypical magical girl show becomes one the most inventive, daring, and powerful anime in recent memory.  This intense journey into the consequences our choices bring is heavy on violence and death and contains foul language.  But nothing is gratuitous and the show is purposeful, emphasizing the themes of friendship, sacrifice, and hope.

Related Links:
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Madoka Madness
Puella Shoujo Madoka Magica 07: From Adam to Jesus
Puella Shoujo Madoka Magica 12: The Hope We Find
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Fashion, Madoka, and Redemption
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Buddha and Madoka
Madoka, Homura, and Yuri Embrace of Grace
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Apples, Magical Girls, and Eden
Madoka Surgical Girl and Pre-Op Usagi Drop
Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Volume 1 (DVD)

Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin Himura

Pixiv Artist 1548455

This long-running series is about a ronin named Himura Kenshin who was once the “Battousai,” a manslayer, but has now resolved to live a life of peace.  The idea of living a life of peace and doing what is right, even if it means sacrificing oneself, is a vital theme of the series.  The television show works particularly well in contrast of the first two OVAs, which brutally and violently portray Kenshin’s earlier life.  One may want to avoid the third arc of the show, however, which not only is poorly executed, but which portrays Christianity in a negative life and in which Kenshin supports a view of Christianity as just another religion rather than as “the truth, the way, and the light.”

Related Links:
Rurouni Kenshin to Finally Be Completed?
Christ Meets Kenshin: Apostle’s Sword, Chapter 1
Christ Meets Kenshin: Apostle’s Sword, Chapter 2
Christ Meets Kenshin: Apostle’s Sword, Chapter 3
Christ Meets Kenshin: Apostle’s Sword, Chapter 4

Samurai Champloo

Mugen

This critically acclaimed work follows two swordsmen as they accompany a young woman on her search for a mysterious “samurai who smells of sunflowers.”  Full of substance and stylistically unique, Samurai Champloo is a powerful series from the creator of another classic, Cowboy Bebop.  Christian characters play a major role late in the show, and themes of forgiveness and justice are heavily present.  Not all Christians in the story are “good people,” with many being flawed and others outright hypocrites, though I feel the series treats them fairly.  You may want to avoid Samurai Champloo if bothered by foul language and extensive violence.

Trigun

Vash the Stampede

Vash the Stampede is the hero of Trigun, a man wanted for enormous destruction (of entire towns…and of part of the moon!).  Starting out in a slapsick manner, the series becomes more and more serious as it goes along.  Vash is pacifist who will not kill; his foil and frequent partner, Wolfwood, calls himself a priest, though he is more than willing to take lives.  Their interaction and their beliefs are ripe for discussion, as the series asks tough questions for such a fun show.  Every episode features gunplay and violence, and there is foul language in the series.

Related Links:
Nicholas D. Wolfwood/Rez Week on Beneath the Tangles
Nothing Like God: Redeeming Nicholas D. Wolfwood
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: The Gospel According to Wolfwood
While I Was Yet Lost: Wolfwood Meets Grace
The Faith of Yasuhiro Nightow
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Violence, Grace, and Redemption in Trigun
The Invisible God in…Trigun
Review of Trigun: Badlands Rumble
Fruits of the Spirit: The Kindness of Vash the Stampede

  1. Angel beats is good to even tho it may not seem like it at the begining.

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    • I did a little series on Angel Beats here on the website. It’s a certainly a series that brings up a lot of interesting themes. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  2. I was surprised to see Samurai Champloo on this list…it has a LOT more skanky content than many anime I have seen. It’s well done, sure, but after a while I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore.
    About Kenshin…read the manga if you want a neatly-finished plot. The anime really glosses over the third story arc, which is central to the manga as a whole. Also, the odd mini-arc about the Christians does not exist in the manga.
    These points alone push the manga far ahead of the anime.
    That said, it would be really interesting if someone made an anime about the actual history of Christianity in Japan.

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    • Yeah, like I mentioned, the series is not for everybody. I’ve revised this page to put that series in a more proper category.

      And thanks for the recommendation about Kenshin. I have red the final arc in the manga, and it’s pretty amazing.

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    • That would be very cool. Samurai Champloo does have extreme amounts of sexual nastiness but it does actually touch on certain aspects of the persecution of the hidden Christians if you stick with it long enough.

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  3. Personally, I think D.N.Angel is a good one to look into in a Christian perspective

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    • Interesting selection – it’s certainly an appealing series, has a terrific couple, and is very clean. I bet if I rewatched it, I’d find a lot of themes to talk about. Thanks for the rec!

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  4. Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple and Romeo X Juliet are probably the two greatest Animes I have ever watched… I may have watched Romeo X Juliet recently, but Kenichi is truly my favorite Anime of all time. Kenichi has some perverted and suggestive parts to it, but overall it is about all the good teachings from the Word. And Romeo X Juliet has similar theme to it, though it is violent and has mild gore, it is still a realistic and reveals a bit of compassion to living for others as well as a great purpose. There are of course many other Animes, but those two in particular came to mind.

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    • Meant to say ‘greater purpose’ but I believe you understood what I was trying to say… sadly I wasn’t gifted to not make typos.

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    • Thanks for sharing! I would’ve never thought of checking out Kenichi.

      I have seen a good portion of Romeo x Juliet – a very pretty and heartfelt show. I have no doubt there are some great themes in there.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

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  5. ah my goddess is a good anime series to watch.It gives a lot of good morals in it.

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  6. Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni could be added too. It has a lot of themes about forgiveness, trust, love, and how playing God/Viewing God as sacrificial hungry rather than a loving God can corrupt your morals.The only problem is that it is REALLY violent and is definitely not something easy to stomach. But if you can get through the first season, the second one will be no problem at all (But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the violent content).

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    • Thanks for the suggestion! I made my way partially through the manga long ago, but wasn’t particularly looking for those themes you mentioned. I’ve heard from others, too, that there is considerable depth to it.

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  7. How about heallsing? It has heavy Christian theme but no way point back to God nor Lord Jesus ?
    I have been longing so much for a good Christian manga which actually point back to Jesus and has Him as the central of the story …

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  8. TOO awesome of a site here! Love what you’re doing here! Glad I’m not the only one just making it happen in such a huge way!

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  9. The opening song of Eden of the East anime is extremely offensive as the lyrics say “If God won’t save me, then don’t waste my time.” I strongly suggest others to pray and ask the Holy Spirit if watching certain animes will not ruin their faith. While everyone has their own degree of faith, it is important to be aware that just because an anime has similar themes present in the bible, does not mean you should ignore violence, sexuality, magic/monsters and so on.

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    • There’s definitely a line for Christians, but I think it’s a shifting one depending on one’s faith. I’m reminded of Paul’s discussion regarding the eating of food sacrificed to other gods – it may not bother the individual eating, and it isn’t sin, but it might bother other Christians and cause sin in that manner.

      Each Christian anime fan must figure out their limitations. I look at Eden of the East and, despite that line (which I had noticed immediately when first watching the series) and the graphic nature of the show, there are a ton of themes and ideas worth exploring. It’s kind of like looking at the Bible – the holy scriptures are full of devils, crooks, thieves, liars, and all manners of sinners, but the book itself is a story of grace and redemption, and it’s necessary to explore the vileness of humanity to express what Jesus did on the cross. Caitlin Glass, the voice actress, has a similar feeling in regards to acting out roles that might be considered “bad.”

      And speaking of how we view anime as Christians, I should reference a post regarding six different levels at which we might approach the medium, or any media.

      Anyway, thank you for the note! I think your point is incredibly important to consider.

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  10. tony gustavo martinez mora

    well im self teaching and learning in software and game programming and design and anime/manga art for my sole purpose of creating a christian anime studio that focuses on the Word of God,and revelations from the Holy Spirit. I really want to stablish a studio in the u.s. That will endure until the coming of the Lord. A huge company with great artists,mangakas,all kinds of talented folks,animators,etc…my other purpose is to develop christian anime rpgs. And to publish our work to daystar tv,tbn,and other christian networks. So pray for me a lot.

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  11. Glad I came to the right place because I’m a christian who’s into anime and I just wanted to find something that does not say bad words because I’m against them and that is all I wanted.

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    • Great! Luckily, there are a lot of anime series that are family friendly. Christian Anime Alliance does a great job of giving the kind of information in their reviews that I think you’re looking for.

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  12. That’s a nice anime recommendation list you got there. I totally recommend Madoka Magica it’s the best current magical girl anime ever! it’s not your average magical girl anime you see cause it contains some dark elements in this series

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  13. is Azumanga Daioh also included in this list.I think you’ll say yes,for friendliness,and togetherness value,and also some another Christianity value.

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  14. I have seen some of the anime mentioned above in the comments, like angel beats and Higurashi. Only one anime comes to my mind when it comes to self sacrifice, finding the truth, endurance, and fighting against the greater evil. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. A excellent anime when it comes to showing the good and bad bonds that humans forge and just as easily break, as well as preservering against evil. The ending itself was a bit shocking, but now that I think of it, it was the sad correct way for them to fade from our world. Has violence, blood, death, some cuss words here and there, but overall, it’s a very fine and in my opinion, religious, anime.

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    • That’s a very interesting recommendation. Tonally, few anime that I’ve seen are as painful and dark, but there are certainly elements that strongly match those that Christians espouse. That’s also a very interesting critique about the end – I’ll need to give some thought to that…

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  15. Seikon no qwaser, oh god I’m evil MUWA HAHAHAHAHA

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    • EVIL indeed.

      I feel the need here to say, I would highly recommend you wiki or google this show before you watch it, as this show is ALWAYS my example of how strange and horrible anime can be. :P

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  16. I forgot to mention this anime before. I am not sure if it is a Christian anime as there is violence and stuff that is not family friendly in it, but it does a excellent work in showing humanitarian values and hopefulness in the darkest situations, and one of the characters is like Jesus in more ways then one. The anime is called Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shinchinin, which I can roughly translate as “The story of 7 boys, compound 2, cell 6″. Again, this is a really rough translation of the title from Japanese to English, but if you google rainbow nisha, the full title should appear in the drop box, hope that helps. Highly recommend that you watch it with several tissue boxes and a close comfort, like a pet or a friend.

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  17. I’m seeing a lot of recommendations, but how about fullmetal alchemist brotherhood (and the original)? Would it be considered a good one to add to this list? Or is it too….hmm how should I put it…non-Christian…if that’s the word I’m looking for lol :p

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    • That’s an interesting recommendation. Certainly, there’s a dark tone to the series and lots of actions features that don’t jive with Christian teaching. However, I do think that the show is full of strong themes worth exploring, and of course, it’s simply an excellent series (Brotherhood at least – I’ve seen less of the original). I have written one article about FMA (you can find it by searching on the site for Winry), but the perhaps the biggest reason that it doesn’t make this list is because I’ve never finished the show! :P

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  18. Shannon Hill

    I have two particular favorites that I would love to hear your take on. D.Gray-man and Fullmetal Alchemist : Brotherhood. I am able to find some very meaningful links to Christianity, but hearing your thoughts would help me in solidifying some points that are hanging loose in my theories. (Sorry, I know you get a lot of recommendations and this is just another on your plate! >_< But let me also just say you are always very polite in your responses to recommendations!)

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    • To tell you the truth, I’ve only watched about half of FMA:B and haven’t seen D.Gray-man at all. FMA used to trouble me once because of its tone, but I now see it as a series that’s ripe with wonderful themes to explore. I could see us easily churning out a dozen posts on the series.

      I’d like to hear some of your thoughts about these shows!

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  19. Great list; I’m glad you made something like this. :)
    Though I was very surprised that Saint Tail was not on this list.

    Do you know of this anime?; I’m quite positive it fits the criteria.

    See more info here:

    http://myanimelist.net/anime/1567/Kaitou_Saint_Tail

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    • Thanks for the kind words!

      Unfortunately, this list contains only series I’ve personally seen, and I’ve yet to see Saint Tail. Will you tell us a bit about why you’d include it?

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      • You’re welcome!

        And sure! If a “Christian anime” exist, Saint Tail is it, IMO. Saint Tail features a Robin Hood-esque story where a young girl named Meimi steals from thieves and returns the stolen goods to their rightful owners. Her friend is a young nun-in-training who guides her in her adventures. It’s very cute and is a mahou shoujo (magical girl) type anime, like Sailor Moon. The story focuses on friendships, kindness, justice, and romance. Meimi is quite against using any violence or unlawful methods to complete her tasks, apart from the stealing itself, of course. She even says a short prayer before and after her transformation (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fZM1e8M1Nk), though this is ironically omitted from the English dub.
        Overall, it’s a quite enjoyable anime.

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  20. Neon Genesis Evangelion

    If you’re interested in anime with religious undertones you may be interested in Neon Genesis Evangelion. The series makes use of some Christian imagery and constantly (albeit subtly) implies a tone of omnipotence throughout the series. It has some interesting commentary on science and religion but you really have to pay attention to the series to get that out of it. It’s also probably not the best show for younger viewers though. It’s not the most violent show ever but it becomes very psychologically disturbing as it goes on (most of the main characters are mentally scarred in some way and suicide is a frequent theme). Still it’s one of the must-watch classics of the medium and anybody who’s interested in anime should watch it. Even if you don’t like the show it’s worth watching just how how influential it is. I’m not an expert on Christianity and the bible as I’m not a believer myself (I just really like the show and have looked in to some analysis of the symbolism and meanings) but from what I’ve heard from my Christian friends, most of them seem to like it.

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    • Thanks for the rec. NGE is definitely a classic series and contains many allusions to religion. On a personal level, Evangelion was an important to me as any series in making an anime fan out of me.

      On this site, we’re really looking at themes associated with Christianity. In that way, Evangelion isn’t largely different from, say, Usagi Drop. Although NGE is covered in symbolism, we’re looking less for that (leaving these ideas in the hands of more expert folks who have analyzed Evangelion to death) and more for ideas like grace and sacrifice. That’s not to say, though, that Evangelion doesn’t represent these themes – on the contrary, as I’ve written several articles on Evangelion (and I have a draft somewhere about Shinji that I need to finish as well!).

      That said, it’s a must-see for anime fans, though I agree with your caution about it being intended for slightly older audiences. Thanks for your excellent recommendation!!

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  21. Revolutionary Girl Utena has an ending which espouses very Christian values.

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    • Thanks for the recommendation. Some of our long-time readers here have also recommended Utena to us (and some of our staff have seen it). Unfortunately, though Murasaki Lynna and myself worked on trying to develop a series of posts on the series while reviewing it, neither of us made it through. Perhaps one of us will revisit it sometime in the future.

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      • Anthonius Veit

        Is true that the series is yuri?

        The movie seems to have some scenes, according to what I’ve read. But I’m not sure about the series.

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        • Since I’ve only seen a third of the series, perhaps someone else can chime in with a better answer. From what I’ve seen the series is definitely not yuri. However, a central relationship in the series is ambiguously yuri and has been imagined/defined as a significant yuri relationship in anime.

          Here’s an article about Utena that refers to its yuri overtones (though I think it focuses on the manga rather than the series), written by one of the expert voices on the topic here in the U.S.:

          http://okazu.yuricon.com/2004/01/30/yuri-animemanga-revolutionary-girl-utena/

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          • Anthonius Veit

            Thanks.

            Reading that article made me more wary of watching that series. According to it, I don’t see many redeemable things about that production.

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        • Murasaki Lynna

          Personally, I wouldn’t say that the series is yuri…at least, not explicitly. From what I remember, the relationship between Anthy and Utena does have very romantic connotations, but is kept ambiguous throughout the series. You are correct, though, that in the movie (Which is not a continuation of the series, but an entirely separate adaptation of the story.) Utena and Anthy are undeniably portrayed as a romantic couple.
          In addition, there is a female character who is in love with another female character, but her love is unrequited.

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    • Murasaki Lynna

      I would be inclined to agree with this, but unfortunately, when I last watched the series a year ago, I felt like I couldn’t properly write a review or analyse it because…It’s rather confusing. It’s full of very ambiguous symbolism, and it seems the director at one point said that any and all interpretations of said symbolism are true, which doesn’t help anyone who wants to understand what’s going on. Although I still hope to revisit it, after putting it off for over a year, I know I may never get around to it.

      That being said, I can say that objectively that it is a very good series, has some quite deep and interesting themes, and I enjoyed it in spite of its vagueness, so I think that some Christians would definitely enjoy it if they’re okay with the sexual undertones (Which increase exponentially in the third season) and with a story where almost no questions are ever directly answered.

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      • Anthonius Veit

        According to the article TWWK linked, I think these elements outlined in it overshadow and ruin the production.

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  22. Surprisingly I find Trigun a very good pick.Rin deals with very deep subject matters.I would like to see a slice of life with bible believing Christians in it.A lot of anime I had to cut out because I found them distracting and I had to make a stretch to justify them.

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  23. madoka?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? THAT SHOW SHOWS NOTHING BUT HEARTACHES AND MORE VIOLENCE DONE AGAINST INNOCENT GIRLS!!!

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    • It’s true that viewers watching this series need to approach it with a critical mindset, and that’s it not for less mature viewers. And neither is it a holy grail of anime – there’s reason to be critical of the show. My recommendation is based on significant themes of self-sacrifice, grace, and love that pervade the show and which ultimately define it.

      Certainly, take any recommendation here with if grain of salt, and consider that not everyone will enjoy every series featured here, nor will they see of identify with some of the reasons why we’re giving our thumbs up for them.

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