Anime and Christianity are two terms that seem to be incompatible and even complete opposites. Particularly in America, anime is about as foreign a media as one can consume. Lauren Orsini’s recent guest post drove the differences between these concepts home even further. Of course, my blog attempts to show the connecting point that many anime have with Christian spirituality.
Still, for a parent who knows little or nothing about anime, the form can be disconcerting. Especially for Christians, who tend to be more conservative, parents might be concerned with the not-always-flattering imagery in the medium. As a Christian parent myself, I know I’d be confused and worried if I saw Naruto do his “Sexy Technique” in the very first episode of what is possibly the most popular anime among teenage boys.
So I’ve created a guide to help Christians parents understand this medium. This two-page document gives background about anime and also answers some questions parents might have.
Christian Parents Guide to Anime
In addition, there’s a new page on my blog that not only contains the guide, but presents Christian parents with a variety of resources related to anime and manga, Japanese religion, religion in anime, and anime and Christianity.
10 thoughts on “Christian Parents Guide to Anime”
That’s awesome. Goodness knows that we need more of those! There just aren’t that many out there, and some of the ones I’ve seen have just said ‘it’s a tool of the devil, yada yada’. It’s nice to have something that gives a different, better perspective on it.
Well thank you. I hope that it’s helpful, though I have no idea how many parents are interested in such a guide.
I’m neither a parent nor a Christian but I gave that pdf a thorough read. Very interesting material and I’ll be sure to show my parents the first page of it (the introduction part) if they even have a wee bit of interest in getting started.
Kudos for mentioning Haibane Renmei and it’s delicate handling of symbolism. You might be surprised to know that Yoshitoshi ABe, it’s creator, has a very grunge style and this might very well be the neatest work you’ll ever see from him. His other works (mainly manga), Serial Experiments Lain majorly, contain highly graphic violence and shockingly intense darkness. And for some strange reason, the “guide/book” link does not open for me.
A connection between Naruto’s self sacrifice and Jesus’ crucifixion? Good spot! I think you could’ve emphasized on the Ghibli movies a bit more, but hey, that’s just me…
Very good job, mate!
Thanks for the encouragement. I just recently watched Haibane Renmei, and certainly it was a powerful experience for me in a variety of ways. It’s both similar and dramatically different from Serial Experiments Lain, another favorite of mine. I haven’t seen his other works.
Ghibli could definitely have used more mention – but one thing I do well is cut cut cut – and so, with space limitations, I had to avoid making this a Miyazaki show. 🙂
You could’ve just said that both are based on stories that include mostly fictional characters having superhuman powers and doing things people usually cannot.
Ehhhh, there are indeed many similarities between anime and Christianity.
While I’m not a parent, I am a Christian, and have been getting mixed signals from it. The most notable anime that is popular in the US today has to be Naruto. A lot of Christians believe that it is okay to watch Naruto, but I’ve been reading this comic for awhile and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
First and foremost, Chakras are present, which comes from non-Christian beliefs. Also, characters are able to come back to life, and a select few shinobi have that power to bring them back. Also, characters don’t appear to go to either a heaven or hell, as is seen in one of the more recent chapters.
There are a lot of elements in the story incompatible with Christian beliefs, and no one seems to notice or point them out. It would be too much for me to say in this post.
Thanks for sharing, Montezia.
When it come to “compatibility” with Christianity, I think it really depends on how you approach the series. Certainly, the “world” of Naruto is a non-Christian one. The same could be said of almost all anime and manga series, with only a few shows walking a line of representing Christian thought (ex. Haibane Renmei) and a few older ones that are made with a Christian worldview (ex. Superbook).
A similar thing could be said, though, of almost any western media. For instance, I might watch NCIS. Although the characters live in America and might be Christian (I don’t know – I don’t watch the series), the show isn’t explicitly Christian and the characters might do or believe things that don’t reflect Christian worldviews.
However, if I approached anime or other shows/movies with the frame of mind that I’ll only view them if they are Christian, I wouldn’t be able to watch anything! Some viewers approach in this manner – it all depends on how you view media. I prefer to look at the “heart” of a series, as it were – to look for themes that align with my worldview. If a show, for instance, glorifies violence for the sake of violence, I tend to steer clear. But a show like Naruto, on the other hand, has a lot of “Christian” themes (even if the creators never had this in mind), like self-sacrifice, love for others, love for enemies, etc. There’s a lot that can be gleaned for the astute viewer.
If Christians could only watch/read media that were as explicitly Christian as this, then even a good many Christian works would be left out – like Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was so Catholic that if he hadn’t met his wife he most definitely would have been a monk and was incredibly religious his entire life, but his series has an incredible amount of influence from Norse mythology. And honestly, the same could be said of Chronicles of Narnia with Greek mythology. If you’re looking at these books simply from the viewpoint that to be compatable with Christianity they also have to be set in a World According To The Bible, then both of these series would fail and fail hard.
And because they dare to be different and take in things from other religions, they are also interesting. Explicit Christian parallel worlds are, quite frankly, boring because they are all the same. They don’t allow for a whole lot of exploration of imagination. I keep attempting to read more modern Christian fantasy and have been turned off time and again because the exact same rules apply in the exact same way and the characters convert/become believers in the exact same scenarios. The exact same parallels and allegories are used time and again. They all read like rip-offs of each other.
While I dislike Naruto for different reasons (I think the story has hit immense levels of going on simply because the author wants it to), while it isn’t an explicitly Christian world, the characters and lessons and themes presented can and often are compatable with Christian beliefs….. the same way LoTR and Narnia are.
my parents wont let me watch anime because the think it is “animated pornography”, try to convince them that the anime/manga media is just the same as ours, but they think there is no diversity among anime in this regard,any thoughts?
Considering anime is such a wide, varied genre – the best way to convince someone that anime isn’t all animated pornography, is to give an example of something which isn’t animated pornography. It’s good to start with examples which are already well known – such as Pokemon, which are very clearly not pornographic in nature. Also, one can point to things like Doraemon/Yo-Kai Watch both which air on Disney XD which are both anime & not pornographic in nature. From there you can move onto other series/films which are again very clearly not pornographic – such as some of the children’s Studio Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro, which is also brought to the US by Disney. The added bonus for each of the examples I’ve given is that they can be viewed with English dubbing that’s not heinous.
Mind you, that may not work. I don’t know your parents, but those are just suggestions from someone who himself is also a parent…