“Anime is evil.”
“Anime is not God-honoring.”
“You call yourself a Christian and watch that?!”
I think many believers have been told similar statements as I have. Despite the fact that I grew up watching Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, when my parents became Christians, I recall them being very strict about letting me watch anime.
I don’t remember when it was exactly said or even if it was said, but there came a point that I felt anime was bad and if I wanted to be a “good Christian,” I would stay away from it. However, one of my best friends in high school introduced me to manga, and while I recall some inappropriate parts, I was completely fascinated by that kind of storytelling. It was unlike anything I read before and I knew that at some point, I wanted to read more of this “manga.”
That point didn’t arrive until roughly two years ago when I wanted to start reading manga again, though this time, I decided to read “clean manga.” I felt that surely not all anime and manga were evil because not all fantasy is evil either (which was a deep struggle for me growing up).
And I was right!
It wasn’t always easy to find clean manga and anime, but the more research I’ve done (and the more manga I’ve read), the more I realized that Christians can read and watch this medium without going against convictions they may hold. They don’t have to read or watch all the “bad” to hopefully find the good either.
But while that is another story for another day, one thing I’ve increasingly thought about since embracing my full otaku potential is that I’ve really wanted something that wove my love for Jesus and for anime together.
Turns out, I wasn’t the only one.
One day in January 2021, my very good friend Moriah Jane voiced a similar thought, and I said I had just been thinking the same a week prior. However, this time, rather than hoping someone would do this, I asked her, “What about if we do this?”
Hence, the birth and creation of Finding God in Anime: A Devotional for Otakus!
Here’s a summary of this work, as well as one of the pieces you’ll find within!
Being a Christian can be tough. Being an otaku can be tough. But being both at once?
Sometimes it seems easier to become Hokage rather than explaining your faith and passions to others. That is why we otaku have united in this devotional: To encourage otaku like you spiritually and through a medium we all cherish.
In this devotional, you will find God in the anime you know and love. Each devotional presents spiritual lessons found in anime ranging from the world-famous Attack on Titan to fan-favorite Haikyu!! to beloved classics like Cowboy Bebop. Each piece will feature a different theme such as:
- Human Will vs. The Holy Spirit in Yona of the Dawn
- Choosing to be Free in Free! Swim Club
- Not by My Might in My Hero Academia
…and many others! We believe that God can be seen throughout His creation—even in places where people might not intend! So pull out your cosplay and snuggle close with your plushies as you join us in Finding God in Anime.
There is something so empowering knowing we are not alone. Over twenty other Christian otaku joined in celebrating this new mission to show one can indeed find God in anime.
To give one example, here is a piece that was written by my co-partner (Moriah) in relation to Finding Faith in The Promised Neverland.
Finding Faith in The Promised Neverland
Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.
— 1 Corinthians 2:4b-5 (NLT)
Emma is far from eloquent. Anyone who has watched the anime or read the manga for The Promised Neverland knows this. Unlike her two best friends Ray and Norman, she doesn’t detail her plans in complex mathematical equations or brain-bending yet witty strategies. Even though she lacks these capabilities, she has one capability that trumps all the others: faith.
Devastations meet Emma’s trio time and time again, but she never loses faith. When she and Norman discover the terrible secret of the Gracefield orphanage, she keeps the faith that they can change their deadly fate. When Norman and Ray try to convince Emma that escaping with all the orphans of Gracefield is highly improbable, Emma insists that there must be a way to ensure each orphan’s escape, keeping the faith deep within her heart that they will all find freedom together. Yes, again and again Emma is met with soul-crushing odds and situations that would cause anyone to lose faith, yet she never does.
In this way, Emma is demonstrating the example set in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. She relies on the personal faith she has mustered that somehow, someway, their horrifying reality will be resolved. She does not trust in human wisdom which often tells her that escaping her deadly destiny is impossible, that all her loved ones will slowly die one after the other, or that the situations she becomes ensnared in while against supernatural odds will be the end for her. No, she keeps fighting. And no matter what her enemies do to her, no matter what logic or science dictates, Emma presses forward with her eyes on the prize.
While reading The Promised Neverland and witnessing Emma’s strong faith, I couldn’t help but be reminded of our faith in Christ. Sometimes having faith is hard. We don’t understand why trials have befallen us or how we’ll ever make it through a difficult time. But Colossians 3:2 tells us to keep our minds on the things from above. In difficult times, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and on the good times in heaven still to come—our prize.
Emma shows great faith in every trial just as we ought to as Christians. If our friends tell us the odds are insurmountable, keep the faith. If the enemy seems too large and fierce, keep the faith. When we’re tempted to focus on the things of earth, look up and keep the faith.
Always keep the faith.
What’s an anime or manga that has touched you spiritually and helped you grow closer to Christ?