Dropping Inuyashiki and the Bad Feels from Anime

I’m a little embarrassed. I sang the praises of the first episode of Inuyashiki, both online and in real life. But two episodes in, I dropped the series. Can I just go in my hole and hide now?

The thing is, Inuyashiki continues to be a show with high animation quality and one that I think is packed full of interesting content, the type of questions and ideas that we love to dig into on Beneath the Tangles. I’ve been reading Oishi’s episodic posts on the show, and it seems that the series is exactly what I thought it was, which I would personally characterize as enthralling. It’s worth the watch.

But still, I dropped it.

I’m not a fuddy duddy or someone who hates fun, but I’ve come to realize that there are series I really, really get into, which consume me heart and soul, that I sometimes simplyl have to drop. For every SHIROBAKO that grabs me and won’t let go in a good way, where I’m encouraged to be creative, disciplined, and content, there is an Inuyashiki, which consumes me in an entirely different manner, which causes me anguish rather than happiness.

inuyashiki's head
Indeed, indeed.

And you know, I should have known. If I had been a good aniblogger and looked into the series before it started, I would have discovered that it was created by Hiroya Oku, who was also the mangaka behind Gantz, a series infamous for its graphic content. The thing about Gantz is that once upon a time, I was completely addicted to it. Much like Fullmetal Alchemist before it, I would read through the series during the workday, avoiding my duties and flying through the series relentlessly, while always worried that my monitor, whose screen was facing my office door, would reveal a naked girl or exploding alien to someone walking by. In fact, something like that did happen once with my manager (though that’s a story for another time).

What was so compelling about Gantz? I can’t say its a very good series. What it is, though, is compelling. Engaging. Enthralling. And primarily because, just as with Inuyashiki, it’s disturbing in all sorts of ways. The heavy content in that manga hooked me, and not only was I now wasting my work time reading it, I was also thinking of the series outside of work; I was even dreaming about Gantz! Literally, one of the few dreams I remember having had to do with that black ball of evil.

Worse yet, the series affected my mood. I kept feeding myself with troubling content, and I felt troubled. I felt depressed. I felt…off. Eventually, I stopped reading because I realized, way after the fact, that while some people could enjoy Gantz and not be particularly affected by it, I could not. Since that time, I’ve dropped other series that have made me feel similar, like Elfen Lied and The Walking Dead. Even Code Geass did a number on me, if in a different way.

And so it goes with Inuyashiki. So long. I barely knew ye. And it seems I left it just in time—if drowning toddlers weren’t enough (after that scene I immediately knew I was done with the show), episode four seems to have caused some pause with its sexual violence.

Because of my faith, I try (try!) to be careful with how I approach media. Again, I’m not about censorship and Veggietales all the time; I believe in the freedom I have to consume all sorts of different anime, weigh them against who I am in Christ and how I live for him, and make sound judgments as I mature in my faith. I find it interesting that things like senseless violence, disturbing content, and gore fill me with blahness more than sex and fanservice, which, believe me, is something I have and will probably always struggle with. And I wonder if more Christians would find the same, or something similar, if they focused less on sex in media and more on “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).

But faith aside, I’m proud to have become a more careful consumer of media, including anime. I’m glad that I’m engaging media on my own grounds, instead of on Hollywood’s (or New York’s…or Tokyo’s), and I know that has benefited me, helped me become a better person, even if that sometimes means saying no to cool anime about android grandfather superheroes and psychotic teenage supervillains.

Stream Inuyashiki on Anime Strike…if you dare.

21 thoughts on “Dropping Inuyashiki and the Bad Feels from Anime

  1. Hiroya Oku strikes me as guy who has cool ideas, but doesn’t know what to do with them, relying instead on cornucopia of sex and violence. At least first half or so of Gantz had an impressive charachter development of Kurono, after that it was just stuff happenning without rhyme or reason. I wonder what his editors think.

    1. Could be you’re right…I loved the first few volumes of Gantz, and thought it went off track.

  2. I admire you for dropping an anime that you knew would be bad for and it’s something I can learn from in my own life. For me, there are certain things I can get too obsessive, and even depressed about, and they definitely don’t help me focus on Christ. TV shows are something I’ve started avoiding because they are so addictive for me. Another one is certain kinds of shoujo manga. I love shoujo manga but it can be very tempting to read something that’s full of sexual content, and so I’ve made a point to stay away from such things, even dropping certain mangas I’m reading because I know they get more R-rated later on. It’s tough to do.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Shoujo manga is an interesting examples—I think it goes to show that the traps for us are as plentiful and varied as we are. We know our own limits, and need to be specific in how to avoid the things that lead us into sin.

  3. Thank you for this article. I think sometimes we, as Christian bloggers, can get so caught up in trying to set a good example, that we forget to admit our weaknesses, which are as much a testimony as anything else.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! My thought is that by being authentic and real, we avoid the sins of pride and deceit, and demonstrate what a Christian walk is really like. It’s perhaps not as easy and full of joy as we have a tendency of making it seem, but it’s also more complex and dynamic than how we represent it.

  4. You’ve made me think about a few of the anime I’ve forced myself to finish through before but not actually like, and I admire you for being gutsy enough to drop a show before getting in too deep, Charles.

    As for the actual anime in focus, I did read the manga a while back, but it veered into territory that pushed me away from anticipating the anime. Besides all the violence, and I think this might go into possible spoiler territory, so I apologize for that, a good portion of the time I was thinking “I don’t want to read about the teenage boy, just move on to the old man!”

    1. Thanks for sharing, Michelle! Also…I think some of me being able to drop shows just has to do with how little time I have these days. I feel more of a necessity to make the time I spend watching anime significant and valuable. I didn’t feel that way at all during college!

  5. I understand completely. It’s why I could never finish “Breaking Bad” or “Valvrave”. Redemptive suffering in fiction is being reduced to meaningless suffering. I’m beginning to feel this creeping nihilism almost everywhere I turn. Seems like all I can say anymore is thank God for “Non Non Biyori”.

  6. I salute your decision and discipline to drop the series early on. For myself, it would be extremely difficult to put down something I find interesting. It keeps gnawing at the back of mind and I find myself restless until I pick it up again. A bit frightening actually when I compare it to taking drugs. I often find ways to justify my watching or just outright ignore my conscience until it is over.

    The times when I am most able to resist such temptations is when it hits my “switch” – anything with a cross or a reference on Christianity will immediately trigger me to shut down the series; it’s the reason why I dropped series like Haganai.

    1. Hmm…that’s an interesting point about series that make specific reference to Christianity. I think that makes sense. When it comes to entertainment, we often have a habit of giving ourselves over to it, letting it take us for a ride, but very direct references to that which we hold dear can take us out of that ride, even if momentarily, and make us think on a meta level about what we’re consuming and why.

      Oh, and I definitely understand your comparison to drugs. I often feel the same—I’m so weak when it comes to addictions, and even though I was able to put Inuyashiki down, there are other relatively small choices with which I struggle. And all that is part of the reason I avoid not only drugs, but even alcohol.

  7. These posts where you discuss your approach to selecting media based on how it affects you, using the filter of what you know from God’s word, are excellent. One of the great challenges of our faith is learning how to apply it in practical terms.

    Many Christians don’t engage and wrestle with real life, finding it easier to simply make some rules and avoid the challenges altogether. “Stay away from *that* kind of show!” But that leaves whole areas of life in this world devoid of Christian influence.

    Thank you for sharing how you approach these things, and modeling how to engage with anime culture while guarding healthy spiritual boundaries.

    1. Thanks, Teddi! I certainly admit, making “some rules” and voiding “the challenged altogether” is certainly how I used to approach media, and life in general. I’m glad to look at the world around me with different eyes these days, as it’s both deepened my appreciation for media and my relationship with God.

  8. I feel exactly as you … And that happened with me in anohana where there is tentative of rape of a main character but found it happened in real life to so many Japanese schoolgirls in Japan love hotels which is disgusting af…

  9. Thank you! For a long time I felt myself asking “why can’t I?”. However, now that I’m aware about these lasting effects, (Such as depression and fear.) I don’t have to question it anymore.

    1. Sure! I’m glad for you! We all should try to be aware of what is good for us and what isn’t, though sometimes that line can be a tricky one to discover.

  10. I finished Inuyashiki a couple of weeks ago, and I can certainly understand why a believer in Christ would drop this.

    As someone who dislikes violence and gore, I managed through the violent parts of Inuyashiki and found a very profoundly theistic work of art.

    The violence really is meant to illustrate the evil that is nihilism and materialism and contrast it with theism. Inuyashiki, I think, is unintendedly Christian in its metaphysics, though I would still caution about labelling it Christian since it is more broadly theistic in its outlook.

    Still, this is an important lesson for Christians to be more discerning of the media they watch, if they should watch it at all, and I can only applaud your example of dropping an ongoing series if you don’t feel like it. It’s something more Christians should learn these days instead of going with what the world wants.

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