Today marks to beginning of the Lenten Season. Although I’m not Catholic, and have never observed the tradition of giving up a vice or practice for Lent, I certainly understand that this custom holds significance for many (Medieval Otaku, one of our newest writers, could certainly tell you more). There’s also an increasing trend of Protestants practicing this custom, including a number of college folks at my own church. And on social media, a quick search reveals the idea of many perhaps giving up anime for Lent.
Although mostly tongue in cheek, I would be surprised if many Christians weren’t sincerely thinking of doing so, especially in light of how common media and social media fasts have become. And although we aren’t separatist in our beliefs here, instead really focusing on all the good there is to be seen in anime, both on a surface level and on a deeper, thematic level, there could be very good reason to dump anime for the next 40 days. Here are five reasons why you might consider doing so:
1. You Feel Convicted To
Sometimes we’re compelled to take action on things in our life, often without strong rhyme or reason. It could certainly be that the voice you’re hearing isn’t a simple back and forth in your head, but rather the Holy Spirit convicting you to do something. Or perhaps a trusted peer had suggested to you that it might be a good idea to let anime go until Easter. Although prayer discernment is always recommended, conviction certainly plays a role in a Christian’s decision-making.
2. You Enjoy Anime That Tempts You to Sin
If you’re only watching Studio Ghibli and Pokemon, you’re probably safe when it comes to temptation. But as we all know, anime presents a lot of imagery that can tempt people to sin – not just in the way of fanservice, but with violent or depressing images as well. If you’re exclusively or mostly watching series that fit this category, Lent could be an opportunity to center God in your life and let him be LORD even of your media choices.
3. You Substitute Time with People for Time with Anime
Guilty as charged, right? One of the things that attracts most of us to anime is how addictive it is. Why go out when you can just stay home with Swimming Boy A or Moe Girl B? But we know we should be loving and spending time with other people, and if mini-marathons of shows are honestly keeping you from doing so, ditching anime could be the first step toward spending more and better time with friends.
4. Anime Consumes You
Along the same lines as number three, if you spend hours watching anime, you could be neglecting what should be the more important relationship in your life – the one with God. Just as with a fast, you could spend your normal anime time in prayer, with the word, and worshiping the Holy One. You know, substitute Godoka with God.
5. Because You Love Anime
Don’t get me wrong here – giving up anime can’t compare to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, for us anime addicts, depriving ourselves of the enjoyment of watching shows is a minor form of suffering. And it is through suffering that 1) we reach others, emulating Christ and 2) grow in our relationship with Christ. It would be interesting if somehow your love for anime might actually affect your spiritual growth, though it might come through through letting it go for 40 days.
Whatever you sacrifice for Lent, if you observe it, I would recommend (admittedly as an outsider) just this: do it prayerfully and with a heart devoted toward loving God, and not for reasons of tradition, pressure, or legalism. Whether it’s about giving up chocolate, meat, or anime, or about focusing on spiritual growth, our actions are insignificant if they don’t come from deep within, because that’s what God is looking at and what he desires (1 Sam 16:7). Giving up Shirobako is all nice and good, but he’d rather you give up something more important – he’d rather have your heart.