“Christianity” and “anime convention” don’t often synchronize too well. You may immediately think of protestors at FanimeCon or at other conventions, telling guests that they’d better turn from manga to the Bible or else they’ll find themselves in danger of hellfire (I wonder what they think of a book that’s both manga and Bible?). Or if you visited Katsucon several years ago, you might remember the odd mix of cosplayers and conservative Christians both booking the same venue.
Fortunately, groups of Christians, particularly Christian otaku, are starting to build bridges, hopefully changing opinions about what Christianity is and who Christians are. At Fanime this year, for instance, a group held prayer meetings as a peaceful opposition to the louder assembly protesting in the name of Christ. I’ve tried to do something similar by holding a panel on Christianity and anime at IKKiCON. And I’m not the only one hosting such panels.
This weekend, my friend Michael, editor of the God and Games blog, will be hosting a panel at Florida SuperCon entitled, “Spirituality in Video Games and Anime.” He’ll dive into the way religion is used in games and anime, and specifically how it’s often used without any deeper context than for plot development in media developed in Japan. I definitely encourage you to attend if you’re going to the convention:
Spirituality in Video Games and Anime
July 5, 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
Room D233 (Panel Room D)
Also this weekend, a Christian group will be attending a different convention – Anime Expo 2014. Jesus Otaku, a group that bills itself as a “group of of otaku sharing that God loves people just the way they are,” will have a booth at the convention. You’re also likely to see their members in cosplay at the con – consider checking out their excellent Instagram account, where they often display group members’ cosplay photos.
And finally, as a personal mention, one of my very favorite artists, turtlequeen, will be at table C42 in the artist alley at the convention. While she’s not doing anything specifically “Christian,” turtlequeen is a Christian artist who I featured here long ago when I used to post Christian anime-style fanart. Also note that she and I are working a long-gestating project that I hope we’ll finish up before too long!
With so much happening, this weekend feels almost like a culmination of Christian projects at large anime conventions, and in a sense, it may be. But more significantly, I think it’s a picture of where things are headed and a predictor of things to come, and if that’s true, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of the grace and love Jesus taught us, and less Pharisaical admonishment, coming from those who are vocal about faith as they go out among the otaku.