In the wee hours of Saturday morning, KissAnime and KissManga, two major sites featuring illegal anime streams and manga scans, respectively, shut down, presumably forever. Stories attached to KissAnime’s closure state that it has to do with stricter Japanese copyright laws, though I haven’t seen any details that confirm as much. Whatever the reason, the deed is done, and a whole lot of anime fans are either rejoicing (in support of creators and the industry) or in mourning.
Some are also raging, particularly against those claiming some sort of victory, or at voice actors tweeting their approval. I jumped in the fray as well, making an observation from a Christian perspective:
Thank God that Kissanime is dead. Like literally.
Just from observation, I think Christians (and I mean ministry leaders, even PASTORS) used the service as regularly as anyone. The temptation of free anime is too strong. And so w/o effort, another hypocrisy leaves our lives.
— Twwk (@thetangles) August 15, 2020
But I hope that when a Christian goes to the sites and see it’s down that they’re convicted. “Maybe my actions should align better with my belief…even when it comes to anime. And perhaps all other things as well.”
— Twwk (@thetangles) August 15, 2020
I was surprised by the negative reaction to my tweets (with messages and replies coming in not only through Twitter, but via other platforms). Not so much from non-Christians, who will view KissAnime’s demise differently (and who have interesting points regarding the value of such sites), but from Christians—some confused, some bitter, and some even angry.
I understand the frustration. During my college years, when anime was hard to come by, I watched most of it through illegal means. But I also download thousands of mp3s, and music was most definitely not hard to access. I was finally convicted to do better when I became older, though even now, I’m not perfect.
But some of the vitriol, as well as the strength with which people justified their actions to me, was worrying. Christians should know their faith’s stance on following the law, particularly through verses sent to a church in the capitol of the empire that condemned and executed Christ (Romans 13:1-2). No, lack of knowledge doesn’t seem to a hindrance. Instead, the issue seems more to be where it is our affections lie. I’m not going to sit here and say that illegal streamers love anime more than Christ, but certainly our worship and our love is misplaced.
God deserves our ultimate and full praise. When we worship, we’re expressing that he is worthy of everything we have to give. But when we sin, when we veer from his ways, we’re not giving him worship. That devotion goes somewhere else. Blinded by easy entertainment and our own wisdom, we fail to see the real treasure right before us, and so miss out on enjoying God as all we need, and failing to ascribe to him that honor as well.
Thankfully, if it’s still too much for you right now to watch anime only by legal means, you’ve been given a gift. The closing of KissAnime is richness to you, because that’s one less temptation, one less path by which you would go astray. It’s a little harder now, a little less convenient, and maybe enough to push you toward doing right. The Japanese law or whatever else compelled the owners of KissAnime to shut down took the giant leap for you; all you need now is to shuffle your feet a little ways further.
Again, it may not be easy, and it may not come overnight. And as also evidenced by my life, it may be a sloppy and imperfect transition. But I hope you’re convicted to at least try, because every part our lives—our relationships, our careers, and yes, even our streaming habits—are about him and for him. And for those of us called by his name, if we’re going to stream anime, there really is no other choice: We ought to stream it right.