Anime Recommendations

Below are our staff’s selections for series that we recommend to Christian viewers.  Growing from our original list, the series given below contain information about the shows that you may find pertinent as you select which series to watch or to show your families.  The list is ever-growing, and we invite you to give your own recommendations in the comment section below.

Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop)
Clannad (Clannad)
Kino’s Journey (Kino no Tabi)
Haibane Renmei (Haibane Renmei)
My Ordinary Life (Nichijou)
Now and Then, Here and There (Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica)
Trigun (Trigun)

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Rin and Daikichi
Art by MHK@メカマンニーア

Bunny Drop
Usagi Drop

Daikichi’s grandfather has just died and the young professional’s family can’t stop bickering – not about what to do with Grandfather’s possessions, but what to do about the old man’s six-year old illegitimate child, whom the family has just discovered.  Even without any experience of his own, and seemingly not a family man at all, Daikichi makes the decision to rear the little girl, and what follows is one of the most simple, sincere, and heartwarming series in all anime.

(2011 ~ 11 episodes)

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy series that are moving
(+) Like shows centered around modern family issues
(+) Like cute kids

Skip if you:
(-) Get bored easily
(-) Dislike angular, sketchy art styles

Biblical Themes:
(+) Emphasis on sacrificial love
(+) Demonstration of concern for the helpless

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Slight alcohol consumption and discussion of Rin’s parentage may trouble parents

Read articles about Bunny Drop

Stream legally for free here (CrunchyRoll)

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dango
Art by ペィ・ページ例大祭つー25b

Clannad & Clannad: After Story
Clannad & Clannad: After Story

Tomoya is the kind, but delinquent son of an alcoholic single father.  Nagisa is the shy and sickly, but determined daughter of loving parents.  When they meet one day on the road to school, little did they know that their lives, and that of the group of friends they would make, would become intertwined in tale that is both romantic comedy and fantastical.  One of the most beloved franchises of recent years, Clannad and its sequel, After Story, starts like most series in the genre, introducing a male protagonist and a series of female characters, each with very different personalities, who might somehow become the object of our hero’s affection.  But Clannad transcends the others by taking the viewers on an extraordinary journey past high school and into real life, including the pain, loss, and tragedy that can beset and paralyze us.

(2007 ~ 47 episodes, 2 OVAs, 1 movie)

Watch if you:
(+) Are a romantic at heart
(+) Like zany comedic moments
(+) Enjoy long series that cross multiple genres

Skip if you:
(-) 52 episodes is too long for you
(-) Like your stories firmly grounded in realism

Biblical Themes:
(+) Strong emphasis on love toward family, friends, and even enemies
(+) Themes of love and redemption

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Mystical content plays major role throughout
(-) Some alcohol consumption and violence (mostly comedic)
(-) Brief bad language

Stream legally for free here (Hulu)

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Kino's no Tabi

Kino’s Journey
Kino no Tabi

Anime episodes are often self-contained, and this is especially true of Kino’s Journey.  The fable-like story follows the title character as she travels from country to country in an unknown world.  The show is wonderful at expressing the human condition in all it’s sin and depravity, but it also reveals the beauty of the world and of people.

(2003 ~ 13 episodes, 1 OVA, 2 movies)

Watch if you:
(+) Like something you can watch an episode at a time
(+) Want to watch something that will make you think
(+) Enjoy a mixture of drama, social commentary, and action

Skip if you:
(-) Get bored easily
(-) Prefer an extended, driven, continuous story
(-) Dislike a simplistic, exaggerated art style

Biblical Themes:
(+) Christ-like sacrifice
(+) Moral dilemmas that can be related directly to pieces of Scripture

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Minor language
(-) Obscured, occasional blood and frequent violence

Read articles about Kino’s Journey

Stream legally for free here (Hulu)

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angel anime halo wings

Haibane Renmei
Haibane Renmei

Haibane Renmei focuses on angel-like entities known as haibane, who are born into a world where they work and live among human townsfolk.  This beautiful work can easily be viewed as a Catholic vision of the afterlife and features heavy emphasis on the ideas of sin, grace, forgiveness, and love.  It’s a powerful work that should be at the top of any otaku’s viewing list, much less any Christian otaku’s viewing list – indeed, it’s a become a classic for any fan of anime exploring deep and emotional themes.

(2002 ~ 13 episodes)

Watch if you:
(+) Like to stray from the generic anime path
(+) Want to watch something that will make you think
(+) Enjoy strong characters and symbolic imagery

Skip if you:
(-) Get bored easily
(-) Prefer more standard storytelling types focusing on action or romance (there is neither)
(-) Need all loose ends tied together by the end of the story (it leaves much room for interpretation by the end)

Biblical Themes:
(+) Christ-like love and sacrifice
(+) The repercussions of sin
(+) Unconditional forgiveness
(+) Contentedness over materialism

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Minor language
(-) Minor blood and disturbing pain (first episode briefly)
(-) Partial nudity (brief side shot of main character naked from an obscured angle; not of sexual nature)

Read articles about Haibane Renmei

Stream legally for free here (Hulu)

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nichijou cast

My Ordinary Life
Nichijou

High school students.  Unrequited love.  An elementary-aged inventor.  Exasperated robot assistant.  Deer-wrestling principal.  Rich boy who rides a goat to school.  Um…what?  These characters and a number of others fill the world of My Ordinary Life, a great example both of the comedy and slice of life genres in anime.  What sets Nichijou apart, perhaps, is two-fold – it’s a creative series that constantly goes for surprising and unexpected gags and it’s a very clean series that can be enjoyed by the family.

(2011 ~ 26 episodes, 1 OVA)

Watch if you:
(+) Schoolgirl slice of life (a la Azumanga Daioh)
(+) Zany humor
(+) Relatable characters

Skip if you:
(-) Want a continuous story
(-) Prefer realism

Biblical Themes:
(+) Wholesome humor

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Very mild homosexual themes (Mio’s manga)

Read articles about My Ordinary Life

Stream legally for free here (CrunchyRoll)

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Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
Art by 白井三二朗 (Pixiv ID 21933003)

Now and Then, Here and There
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku

Perhaps one of the most, if not the most, controversial title on this list. Now and Then, Here and There plays itself off to be, at least in the first episode, the most generic of shounen (aimed toward teenage boys) out there, taking place in a middle school setting at a kendo club. However, don’t let the generic setup deceive you, as this anime is nothing like your generic shounen. Now and Then, Here and There is a short, 13-episode anime that provides one of the most inspiring main characters ever to grace anime from the Christian perspective, witnessed as he works through dozens of deplorable situations that would make any less committed person simply give up and give in. Despite a great amount of questionable implied content, the anime itself is actually relatively clean in comparison, particularly considering the wonderful underlying themes that can be drawn from it.

(1999 ~ 13 episodes)

Watch if you:
(+) Like serious stories exploring difficult situations
(+) Brutally honest social commentary
(+) Want a different take on the shounen genre
(+) Like post-apocalyptic science fiction

Skip if you:
(-) Like happy endings
(-) Prefer more standard shounen

Biblical Themes:
(+) Sanctity of life
(+) Faith that God will bring you through a situation
(+) Sacrificial love
(+) Redemption and forgiveness
(+) Standing up for ideals in an oppressive culture or situation

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Child soldiers
(-) Implied child rape and torture
(-) Blood and violence
(-) Brief partial nudity (young child, harmless and not of sexual nature)
(-) Mild language

Stream legally for free here (Hulu)

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Art by あぶだら13

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika

Almost like superheroes for young girls, the “magical girl” subgenre, unique to anime, features girls who fight off the forces of evil, gathering power by transforming into vibrant outfits.  A dark series, Madoka Magica is infamous for turning magical girl conventions on their head, while focusing on the significant themes of sin, hope, and salvation.

(2011 ~ 12 episodes, 3 movies)

Watch if you:
(+) Like psychological horrors
(+) Want to watch something that will make you think
(+) If you enjoy a dramatically unfolding plot

Skip if you:
(-) Dislike bright colors/big eyes character styles
(-) Prefer “contained-within-an-episode” stories
(-) Aren’t ready to handle major “feels”

Biblical Themes:
(+) Christ-like sacrifice
(+) Discussion of concepts central to scripture (ex. sin and redemption)

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Very mild homosexual inferences, emphasized further in later, separate films
(-) Jarring violence presented in sometimes unrealistic manner

Read articles about Madoka Magica

Stream legally for free here (CrunchyRoll)

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Vash the Stampede

Trigun
Trigun

The western-style science fiction series traces the travels of Vash the Stampede, the most wanted man on a dry planet in desperate need of an alien energy source.  When two young women, representing an insurance agent, finds the infamous outlaw, they’re stunned by his seeming ineptitude, silly personality, and womanizing.  Vash shows his true colors, though, as he tries to live out his mantra of “Love and peace,” even in the company of a violent “priest” and a growing menace who is seeking Vash, and doesn’t mind killing innocents to get what they desire.  Trigun balances the fun of an action-comedy with a plot that explores ideas central to Christianity, such as mercy, salvation, hope, and forgiveness.

(1998 ~ 26 episodes, 1 movie)

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy equal doses of comedy and action
(+) Like superhero-style stories
(+) If you enjoy a dramatically unfolding plot

Skip if you:
(-) Dislike frequent violence
(-) Do not like science fiction or westerns

Biblical Themes:
(+) Christ-like sacrifice
(+) Emphasis on themes of non-violence and forgiveness
(+) Frequent discussion of the sanctity of life

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Frequent non-graphic violence
(-) Some language
(-) Mild sexual references
(-) A “priest” character who is a violent gunslinger is a major character

Read articles about Trigun

Stream legally for free here (Hulu)

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28 thoughts on “Anime Recommendations

  1. You don’t add Noragami? I think it’s a very good anime for Christian despite the Buddhist background. I mean, there’s so many parallels between them.

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  2. hmm i was curious why isn’t Little busters on here? (it is on your recommend vn list) also while you’re at it I’ve heard you recommend melancholy of haruhi suzumiya and noragami on this list but they aren’t on here either. I also think that Kanon and Fruits Basket might be good additions. (of course that could just be me)

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    1. Part of the reason Little Busters isn’t included is because the anime was pretty terrible in comparison to the VN. That said, this list is by no means a comprehensive list of recommendations nor is it a “completed” version. We will certainly consider adding titles, but in the end, this is meant to be a short list to get people started. We don’t want to overwhelm newcomers with a comprehensive list, so the lack of an anime shouldn’t be taken to mean anything more than “we ran out of space,” (not literally, but that kind of reasoning), and if people want more beyond this list, we would gladly make more personal recommendations.

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  3. I have watched Trigun at least ten times. On reflection I do not think the message is Christian at all.

    Trigun is commonly called a rare Christian anime because of the symbols, and because the author was once believed to have converted to Catholicism. However the protagonist, Vash seems like an atheist, who mocks the priest Wolfwood when he prays for his success in battle, with lines like, “Does prayer really work?” “That’s entirely up to you.” “Alrighty then.”

    At the end, Vash also forgives himself for his short-comings while he partially throws away the dogma he was raised with, namely, “Thou shall not kill under any circumstances.” The last lines he uttered in the anime were, “Rem, I will continue to believe in you, but from now I’ll look to my own words for guidance.”

    This resembles a Christian deciding they like some of the values enough to call themself one, but will question them and ultimately form their own beliefs. He believes Rem was a good person, but no longer will deify her. Especially since he met someone else who was capable of being just as pure and peace-loving: Meryl. That’s just more proof she’s human.

    A lot of the so-called Christian symbolism could be Buddhist too; even the villanious Knives is redeemed in the manga. His companion, Meryl, also acts like the reincarnation of Vash’s saintly mother figure, Rem.

    There are parts where Vash openly mocks the hypocritisy of the gun-toting priest Wolfwood. Also there is the part where Knives said he wanted to create his own Eden.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the commentary. I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said – very well stated!

      Trigun does have a lot of “Christian” symbolism in it. It also has Wolfwood the “priest.” But those don’t make the series Christian in any way. That would be like saying Evangelion is Christian! Nor does Nightow’s faith (which, it seems from fairly recent interviews, he has left).

      So, all that means this: Trigun is not a “Christian anime.” Most definitely not. There are few, few anime that could be called that, and none from the past…30 years.

      Why I recommend Trigun for Christians is that it does exactly what you’ve mentioned in some of your comments – it points out ideas that Christians really need to consider. Look at Wolfwood, for instance. A Christian watching the series will hopefully consider Wolfwood and Vash and see that the earlier is living a life of hypocrisy, while the latter, a character without faith, is living with integrity. Series that make Christians question how they live their faith are so much more compelling from a religious angle than shows which “deify” Christianity.

      And speaking of Wolfwood, the other part of the series that really lends for Christian recommendation are the themes, characterization, and plot points in the series that really jive with Christian ideals. Here are a few:

      – Vash – obviously not a Christian – lives a life of sacrifice, to the point where he makes a very compelling “Christ figure.”

      – The selfish and evil nature of humanity is shown episode after episode after episode. Love, in all it’s power, is ultimately offered (and self-contained in a number of episodes) as a cure for the disease of sin.

      – Returning back to Wolfwood, his last scene in the anime is one that demonstrates the power of grace and forgiveness, the true essence of the gospel, about as well as any anime I’ve seen. The power of redemption for one who has taken so many lives demonstrates to us a portion of what grace means.

      So yes, while Trigun is no “Christian anime,” and while I would consider that it’s more strongly a humanist or Buddhist work than Christian (though I honestly would argue against that), it remains a series that we recommend to Christians as one that we can take and analyze and apply to our lives as we critically consider our faith.

      Also, it’s just darn good.

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    1. One of the very few series that makes you think after every episode, and really leads you to critically think about ideas while walking that line between spoon feeding and being over-philosophical.

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  4. Thanks for this list and the comments everyone. trying to find ok anime for my older teens. we are christians and so much of what’s out there is so dark and there is so much of it that it takes way too long to preview it all before saying what’s okay and what’s not. i’ll preview the list and hopefully find more good stuff for my kids.

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  5. As someone who’s recently gotten into anime, and has been recommending anime to various friends who are more conservative than I am, I’m glad to see that you guys have taken the time to make a list of some recommendations! 😀 In my opinion, I think shows like Barakmon, Anohana, and Angel Beats also offer good Christian values. While they do have influences from Buhddist teachings, they aren’t super overt with them, and good messages can be learned from them. Angel Beats in particular made me think of the verse in Ephesians 5, where it tells us to make the most of the time we have on this Earth. 🙂

    Just my two cents. Take it as you wish. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations! Barakamon would easily fit into this list – one of our writers wrote a long series of posts on the show and Christian lessons on his personal aniblog. I’ve also written a number of articles on Angel Beats, and a few on AnoHana as well – those certainly contain a lot of great insights that speak to important ideas within Christianity. The Ephesians 5 connection is a good one – thanks for bringing that up!

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  6. you guys have vn, movie, and series reccomendations, but do you guys have any reccomendations on manga? I’ve started ashita no joe and read through both trigun and kenshin but i was wondering which ones you guys like.

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    1. We’ve been working on trying to get a manga recommendations page up, but those of us who put together the anime and VN pages are not as well read in that area. We will eventually get LN and manga pages up, though I can’t exactly say when that will be. ^^”

      The only manga I can personally attest to are The World God Only Knows and Azumanga Daioh, both of which I thought were hilarious. However, I would try asking some of the other writers. Feel free to contact us via the various methods listed on our about page!

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    2. Fruits Basket is probably the only series that I think a lot of us have read AND would recommend as both a really good series and one that can teach us about truths that Christians believe. Other than that, very few of us are well-read on manga, unfortunately. My favorites include Claymore and Cross Game, and I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend either for this type of page.

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  7. i am a parent with an older teen who watched anime, but is certainly not limiting herself to these Christian friendly ones. I watched many different anime to determine whether to ban it altogether.I saw a great deal of sexualization of young girls, shots of women’s breast filling the screen, obvious sexual symbols like giant screws coming from underground and up between scantily clad girls legs…obvious homosexuality, a lot of very bad language…and in the end we banned it. I also saw a good percentage of anime costumes at the convention were hardly what one would call modest. What are your thoughts about anyone who claims Jesus as Lord being involved in something with so many very objectionable themes and images, as well as a well known pornographic section? I am really struggling here. I want my near 18 year old to make choices, but I am appalled by so much of what I saw in the anime I viewed.

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    1. If I may offer my own opinion as a Christian teen (17 going on 18) who’s seen a fair amount of anime, it all depends on the show you’re watching. Anime as a medium should be seen in the same light as TV shows or movies here in the US; you know there’s bad out there, but there’s also good, and it’s up to you to determine your own standards for what’s acceptable in your own household. It is true that there are a lot of shows that do use bad imagery and themes to sell themselves, but there are a lot of good shows out there as well that don’t do that, and they’re not that hard to find. 🙂

      Personally, I one of the shows I recommend to my friends who are just getting into anime is Usagi Drop. It’s a beautiful show, one about a bachelor in his thirties who adopts a six-year-old girl, and has to learn how to be a parent. It is a very sweet slice-of-life story, and it focuses a lot on themes of love, trust, security, and family, while avoiding language and sexualization. Another series I would recommend is Silver Spoon, another slice-of-life that focuses on the antics of a high schooler named Haichken as he transfers to an agricultural school. The plot seems simple, but the show has a way of pulling the viewer in and caring about each of the characters, while also exploring different facets of farming life in a way that feels very real. My mom in particular likes this series. 🙂

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      1. Usagi Drop is a wonderful series – it’s actually one of our recommendations above. And coincidentally, I’m currently watching Silver Spoon with my wife!

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    2. This is a complicated issue, it really is. When you’re an eighteen year old – and even older than that – your perhaps not as mature with your entertainment choices as you would be when you’re older. Thus, you might watch anime that is popular or otherwise entertaining and not think about all the fanservice (in this sense defined as those scenes are developed to titillate audiences) that’s occurring in a show. The “sexual symbols” you speak of might just seem like another joke to your child, or as it is with many of us, is just something we ignore. But as a parent myself, I understand that these images and others shouldn’t be taken lightly – we need to think about what we’re consuming.

      That said, I think we need to approach anime as we would any other medium. It’s a broad piece of entertainment – talking about “anime” is like talking about “movies” – there’s such a large spectrum of series under that banner. And as there are pornographic anime (a slice of the genre whose fame and reach is very overblown), there are pornographic movies, TV shows, novels, etc. Anime itself is not evil – it just is. What people make of it is what might lead some astray.

      What I would suggest is that you view anime – and this goes for your child as well (doubly, actually) – as you might approach the Bible, not in the sense that anime is any way God’s word, but that we don’t throw out the Bible because of objectionable content. In fact, we need to read about the horrible things of humanity to really grasp the concept of grace. In anime, we’re not going to always see positive elements – there is sexual content, crude language, violence, etc. – but that’s a reflection, partially, of Japanese culture and what their people value, and in a larger sense, of humanity in general. But what draws me to anime is the good we see – the abundant and almost omnipresent themes of grace, forgiveness, love, mercy, and sacrifice, so much more present in anime than in western television and movies. And of course, we can appreciate the beauty and creativity of the animators. There’s much to be gained from anime, almost despite itself, and there’s opportunity here for discussion about faith (as we do on our blog) and about sin.

      That said, I will draw a line with my children when they are old enough (they are 5 and 7 years old) to start viewing anime series (right now they’re limited, basically, to Studio Ghibli fare and a little Pokemon). Series that contain heavy, consistent doses of fanservice may cross that line, and to me, they’re just distasteful. Thankfully, there are literally HUNDREDS of anime that premiere each year, and they offer a variety of series to choose from, from those with heavy doses of questionable content to those that contain none or only small amounts. Christian Anime Review and Christian Anime Alliance are among the sites that review series from a Christian perspective, and could give some insight about the amount of questionable content in a series your child may be interested in.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions.

      P.S. As for cosplay…I would say you’re seeing much more a reflection of teenage culture than anime culture. Teenagers want an excuse to dress scandalous and to sexualize themselves – so why not dress like a scantily-clad anime character? I’ve seen so many people cosplay, for instance, as one specific famed, hardly-wearing-anything character, but I wonder, have they even watched this series? Serious cosplayers focus on the character first, and while they may also dress provocatively, they might not – it just depends on the characters. Here’s a recent favorite example of mine: Ore Monogatari cosplay.

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  8. You need to remove Bunny Drop from this list. The two characters get into a romantic relationship in the later stages of the manga that the anime show is based from. AKA the girl grows into a teen that wants to marry her surrogate father instead of being his daughter, thus promoting incest.

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    1. We understand what occurs in the manga (I’ve actually written a post about it), and because of that, we won’t recommend the manga once we develop those recommendations. However, we do stand by the anime, which only covers the first half of the manga series; should it receive a sequel that covers the second half, we will reconsider.

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