Why is no one else like me? I like anime, but I’m told by the Christians around me that it’s a ungodly art. My friends who do like anime, on the other hand, say and do things that don’t reflect my religious values. What do I do?
If you’ve ever thought this, you’re not alone. Even though anime has become mainstream (even Thor says so), it’s telling that this same thought pattern is one I still hear now in my interactions with young people. And as Kendall and I talked about in his latest podcast episode, it is something we both experienced decades ago. There remains a persistent image of anime—possibly fuelled by the very adult titles that were among those most available in the 1980s, and a reputation for family-unfriendly content—as ungodly.
For instance, a few years ago, an editor at Christianity Today accepted a piece I’d submitted about anime and Christianity. He was interested in the topic, and patiently guided me in the development of a strong, final piece. But before it was posted, the editor retired. His replacement was someone whom I must admit (albeit through gritted teeth) that I admired, and whose work I’ve studied (as recently as last month!) and even used as a teaching tool. But this editor told me that the form was still too strange for their readership. (Hence the gritted teeth.) That was some six or seven years ago, and while the magazine has posted some on anime since then, it just goes to show how little ground has been broken within Christian circles, even for so open a publication as Christianity Today.
This is not to say that there aren’t any resources for this generation of Christian anime fans: This very website is testament to the contrary, as we seek to provide some instruction about how a confused anime fan might approach the topic of whether and how to watch anime, including particular kinds of shows. But even so, it can still feel like an uphill battle for Christian otaku—and a confusing one at that.
That’s why Finding God in Anime, edited by Moriah Jane and our own Laura A. Grace, and now in its second volume, is so significant. It emphasizes to Christian otaku that “anime” and “Christianity” are not mutually exclusive worlds, but that there is a way to worship the LORD while diving into one’s passion for animation.
And that’s not even digging into the actual content of the work, which is full of Bible-centric devotionals that will encourage readers to think more deeply about God through reference to anime, and consider his work while they view series from their favorite studios.
I was honored to be able to write the foreword to Finding God in Anime, Vol. 2. In the short piece, I wrote that within “these pages lies an opportunity, dear readers, to ‘join the party,’ to partake in the greatest adventure…”
Sometimes the analogy of being warriors or sojourners can be overstated, but for those of us who watch shonen series and cheer along with these epic tales, it’s helpful to remember that God’s story for us is vast in reach, fraught with danger, and resulting in the highest prize—the “one piece” that we’re all seeking.
It is indeed a journey. And for you, dear readers, finding this page or this site may be just an early step in that adventure. Finding God in Anime, written by Christians like you who adore anime, will bolster your faith, even if you aren’t familiar with the particular series it references. Volume two is now available—and as another gift, the digital version is free.
Dive in. Study it. And experience Him through the devotionals. God is speaking to you through your passion. Even if the world deems you strange for liking anime, God doesn’t. You’re his beloved, otaku and all.
The editors of this devotional are running a promotion in which the first 40 people who order a paperback and send a receipt of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive a free postcard and two stickers (artwork designed by Pippa at strawberryshojo).
Featured illustration by Nengoro (reprinted w/permission)