Anime is one of those forms of media that most Christians automatically slap the “taboo” label on without giving it a second thought, and I understand where they are coming from. Sexual immorality, secularism, and Buddhist philosophy are present in this genre, oppose the teachings of the Bible, and bring many people away from their faith. Pornography from anime, particularly ecchi and hentai, has become a HUGE struggle for many Christians, tainting the purity of many young people, and locking themselves in a prison that they cannot escape.
So does every anime have terrible sinful actions?
Let me make this clear: I’m not saying that every anime includes these themes that I mentioned. Similarly, these are also not found in every TV show, movie, or song. I won’t admit that anime is perfect, but I would argue that there are many godly themes captured within these shows that can allow your faith to soar. With careful series searching, you can learn more about self-sacrifice, courage, love, leadership, and many other Biblical teachings. Anime has helpful and uplifting potential.
Because of this, I wanted to talk about two important questions that people should be asking themselves before they decide to start watching anime. You should try and answer these questions for yourself, because no two people are the same in what is helpful for them to consume.
1. Where is my relationship with Christ at?
Like I mentioned before, some anime contains all sorts of sinful actions that can affect us if we are not careful. Unless you have a good recommendation from a trusted Christian friend, you never know what you will find when watching a new show for the first time. In order to be strong enough to refuse the garbage that we find and take in the Biblical themes that the media provides, we need to have our own relationship with Christ settled. One nice “check” that you can use to see where you lie with Christ is to see how your lifestyle lines up with what Ephesians 5:22-25 says:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.”
As born-again believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to live kingdom lifestyles, and uphold the law that God has given us. If you already stumble in your everyday life with these areas, you might want to reconsider watching anime for a time, and grow your relationship with Christ. If you choose to watch, Satan will use it as to his advantage, causing you to draw further from God.
He will do everything in his power to trip you up, even from an anime that you watch to gain spiritual insight. Expect temptation to come your way for some anime when you initially start seeing them, and be prepared for the worst. But don’t only believe that these things will come from the genre because God has the power to use it for His good.
2. What are my intentions for watching anime?
Now this might be strange, but I need you to close your eyes and keep them shut (after you read this paragraph of course). I want to break the fourth wall here, so stick with me. Look deep into your heart, the very fabric of who you are, the conscious that decides the course of your life, and ask yourself, “Why do I truly want to watch anime?”
Now this may be very silly to do, but as Christ followers we need to go through this process to see whether we can handle viewing anime. Only you know yourself better than anyone else, and you need to make the decision yourself. You may know some people who tell you the genre is the best thing ever and others who say that it is the direct work of the devil. Like I said before, you cannot fit teenagers into a box for what is strictly good or bad for them to consume; it’s impossible.
Going even further, only you know what makes you fall on your knees before the devil and what brings you closer to God. I will go on out and say it right now: I used to be a porn addict. Anime has been a part of my life since high school, and has been one of my greatest passions. However, the sexual themes that kept on appearing in my favorite shows like Fairy Tail and Akame Ga Kill! made me revaluate what I was doing. After much prayer and time with the Lord, I felt like I could handle the genre with much caution, and transformed it into my ministry for bringing people to Christ. Point being, you know your own struggles and need to make a decision with careful thought.
If you don’t trust yourself to make the right choice and believe that you will mess up, just ask God! James 1:5-6 talks about how our Lord will not withhold his wisdom, and gives it generously to those who ask! God wants to give you the answers that you are looking for, and they are only a prayer away.
A helpful tip
Once you do ask these two questions to yourself and feel no condemnation from the Spirit, you can take start watching anime! As a side note, if I could go back in time and give one suggestion for Christians who are diving into the industry for the first time it would be to pair up with a strong godly friend that will watch episodes and series with you! You never know what Satan will try to throw into your path, and going into anime for the first time with an accountable Christian by your side will help your chances of standing firm against the devil. Most importantly, make sure that the friend whom you go to for guidance about a series has similar spiritual convictions and opinions. Like I said before, you cannot fit every person into a box of what is good or bad for them, and your strong Christian partner might try squeezing you into a triangle when you are in fact an octagon.