On Creating an Anime for Christians Page

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Pondering the examples of other bloggers, particularly those at Beneath the Tangles, has encouraged me to create a page devoted to anime imbued with Christian ideals.  Many bloggers will tell you that there are no Christian anime besides Superbook and My Last Days, but I beg to differ.  Five other anime come to mind which have a clear Christian ethos behind them:

1) Arpeggio of Blue Steel
2) Ashita no Joe
3) Blassreiter
4) Mardock Scramble
5) Wings of the Honneamise

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I have written a long and spoilerific article on how Arpeggio of Blue Steel essentially adapts the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles to its world’s scenario hereAshita no Joe describes the conversion of its titular character from sin to moral uprightness.  The story also features a Christ figure in Rikishi and Marian figure in Yoko Shiraki, see here.  In the case of Blassreiter, its apocalyptic focus, the value of each individual, positive portrayal of a priest, examples of sacrificial love, the presentation of the Anti-Christ as anti-human, and a very powerful scene before a crucifix all shout that Blassreiter is Catholic with a capital C.  Though Mardock Scramble contains many disturbingly graphic scenes (such that many Christians would not watch it), it features such themes as the inherent sinfulness of man, how sin distorts people into monsters, and the need for redemption. (See my two articles on the OVAs here and here.) Lastly, Wings of the Honneamise’s ardent advocation of prayer and reading scripture as a way for people to gain peace within themselves and in the world point directly to Christianity.  Prayer is the most important thing we do.

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Christians often prefer to hide their religion within their works of fiction: for every George MacDonald there are ten Tolkiens, if you take my meaning.  So, I compiled a list of twenty-one anime which seemed to borrow from Christian doctrine in some way.  (I was very tempted to add Elfen Lied, but the manga displays more Christian ideals than the anime.) In several cases, I have but a vague notion of why I placed these anime on the list.  So, the idea came to mind that it would be very worthwhile to re-watch these series, write a post on the degree to which the Faith influenced them, and slowly add them to the upcoming page on this subject. 

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Below is the list.  Feel free to comment on the shows below and add any anime besides which you feel might have a strong Christian ethos or influence.  I promise to watch at least the first three episodes of any you suggest.  Naturally, discuss any of the shows on the list or write about my project in general.

1) Captain Harlock
2) Chrono Crusade
3) Erased
4) Eureka 7
5) Galaxy Express
6) Glass Fleet
7) Gunbuster
8) Lost Universe
9) Nadia: The Secret of the Blue Water
10) Now and Then, Here and There
11) Rage of Bahamut Genesis
12) Rurouni Kenshin
13) Shiki
14) Tales of the Abyss
15) Tasogare Otome X Amnesia
16) Trigun
17) Trinity Blood
18) Twin Signal
19) Witch Hunter Robin
20) Wolf’s Rain
21) World Destruction

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20 comments on “On Creating an Anime for Christians Page

  1. Cytrus says:

    In order of “Christian density”:

    1. Symphogear (the sequel “G” in particular)
    2. Arpeggio
    3. Gakkou Gurashi!
    4. Madoka
    5. Kanon 2006

    The first season of Symphogear might ironically be a poster child for the anti-Christian content kind of anime: vaguely mythological powers, some gratuitous nudity, arguably gay leads and whatnot. Nothing that might be actually /ideologically/ offensive, if you ask me, but I know some people react to that kind of stuff badly. Then at the end of the first season God Himself suddenly becomes a key character (without ever appearing on-screen, no less). It’s the second season, though, which concludes many character arcs while showing how God is dead-set on leading every single soul to salvation without ever taking away people’s free will (among other Christian themes).

    For Arpeggio, you know my thoughts.

    Gakkou Gurashi! is all about the importance of spiritual reality in our lives. It could be argued that the open references to Christianity are merely symbolic and that the series is more universal than aimed at any religion in particular (not that I mind). Some themes, though, like the reconciliation of the divine lacking a physical form yet acting as a constant force in our lives, have a strongly Christian feel to them.

    Madoka you’ve probably seen already. It’s another universal title, but i see Christian readings as viable.

    Kanon 2006 reverses a classic harem trope to make a point about humility and receiving grace vs earning it, among other things.

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    • The second season of Symphogear sounds very interesting. I’ll certainly give it a try and then decide whether I should watch the first. I remember your two excellent articles on Arpeggio of Blue Steel. Would that you had time to blog more! I know the blogger of Unexplained Exclamation Mark loved Gakkou Gurashi! And, I have been meaning to give it a try. I’ll keep in mind that many ideas are held universally among world religions. (It’s a sign for me that God did not want to leave anyone completely in the dark about Him, even though the Judeo-Christian tradition did not start rapidly spreading until the 1st century.) Madoka and Kanon are probably shows one expects every blogger to have watched, but I am one exception! People have written some great articles on Madoka, especially Nick Calibey of A Rather Silly Blog. So, it’s high time I watch it!

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      • Cytrus says:

        With Symphogear, everybody agrees that G is the best season so far (art, story etc.) but at the same time, the first two seasons form an integral whole. Starting with G, the details of one key character’s relationship with God will be lost on you, which might take away from the poignancy of some scenes (and the overall themes of guilt and redemption are continued from the first season for several other characters). So for all its quirks, I would still recommend starting with season one – it does have a few great episodes. But you’re free to do as you wish, of course :).

        I kind of envy you on your first viewings of Madoka and Kanon, though personally I’m very glad I got to watch Madoka completely free from the buzz and preconceived notions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll give Symphogear a shot from the first season then. Sounds like I would not want to miss out on those early details.

        I know what you mean about Madoka. That might be the most analyzed series in the aniblogosphere. Well, I should get down to it at last!

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  2. Fred Warren says:

    There’s Haibane Renmei, which aside from the wings and halos and other artifacts sprinkled through it, is sort of an extended reflection on the meaning of sin and repentance. There’s also a beautiful, though probably unintentional, illustration of Rev. 2:17 near the end.

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    • Haibane Renmei has been recommended to me many times before. It is probably high time I watched it. I’ll give it the three episode try and keep in mind to look for those things that you mentioned. Thanks!

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  3. jubilare says:

    Ah, but George MacDonald wrote stories in which he hid his Christianity, too. Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, and the Princes and Curdie to name a few.
    But it’s still a fair point. 🙂

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    • That’s true. But, it shines through very clearly in The Princess and the Goblin, even if not explicitly referred to. I really need to read Phantasies and The Princess and Currie as well as tons of his other work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        It also shines very clearly through the Silmarillion. 😉

        Yes! Though Phantastes took me a little while to absorb. It’s very strange, but very beautiful, and I can see how it affected Lewis without his really understanding what it was doing.

        Speaking of Lewis, have you read Till We Have Faces?

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      • That’s a good point. But, MacDonald, being a minister, really had to try hard to restrain himself from preaching, and Tolkien lacked that inclination for the most part. I have read Lilith, and really ought to read Phantasies next.

        I read Till We Have Faces, and, like most of Lewis’s fans, didn’t like it. On one level, I perceive that it is a real masterpiece, but there are many books I’d rather read. Have you ever heard of the blog Egotist’s Club? They’re very passionate about Till We Have Faces: https://egotistsclub.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/book-meme-%e2%80%98psichore%e2%80%99s-day-twenty-five/. You might enjoy reading their posts.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        I consider myself a Lewis fan, but then I was also introduced to Till We Have Faces fairly early, and it is one of my favorite books in the English language. I can understand how it could be off-putting, though. It is a stark contrast from his other work. I think of it almost as his fictional biography, set beside Surprised by Joy. 🙂

        I have actually read that post! Prior to my having a blog, actually. I am the “A. Setliffe” in the comments below it. ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

  4. langsend says:

    Interesting list. Many I haven’t watched yet, but those I have I mostly see where you’re coming from on. There are just two that surprise me, Shiki and Erased. Can’t wait to read about them in this series.
    As for suggestions, Kill la Kill is the first to come to my mind. The ending isn’t especial subtle about the Jesus analogy. Evangelion’s another obvious one, even if its Christianity is more style than substance. Then there’s Ninja Resurrection, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you’re looking to laugh at some ridiculous sacrilege.

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    • I had a lot of fun blogging about Erased and Shiki, as you’ll see if you search for my articles on them here. I’m almost certain Erased borrows from Dostyevsky’s Karamazov Brothers. Shiki has some fun playing with ideas from two unexpected sources, one Christian and the other Post-modern.

      It is a good idea to look at Kill la Kill. I know that I had an easy time connecting some imagery and ideas with Christianity. (Probably the most blogged about show here at 7 posts.) Evangelion is an interesting one. Hideaki Anno’s Gunbuster and Nadia Secret of the Blue Water strike me as coming from a Christian background, but I wonder if Evangelion expresses a sense of disillusionment. But, I will certainly watch that again.

      Yeah, I’ll skip Ninja Resurrection. Ninja Scroll was enough for me. xD Thanks for your comment and suggestions!

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      • Paul says:

        I had the misfortune to see the first half of Ninja Resurrection, when I was in the college dorms; a person in the same dorm as I invited me to see it. Besides sacrilege, ridiculous things were put that shouldn’t have been there in the 1500s, like rocket-propelled suits of armor and rocket launchers!! That was the first and last time I saw it!

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      • Yeah, I learned about Ninja Resurrection sometime after watching Ninja Scroll. The fights were as great as everyone said, but that was about the only thing in its favor. I never wanted to see more of the same, so I declined from watching the sequel.

        And, heck, if I want to see a series with awesome fights but little else to recommend it, I’ll watch Jubei-chan 2. Some of the gags made me laugh, and despite how bad the characters and plot are put together, its fights are some of the best you’ll see anywhere. Though, if you want a coherent plot and good characters, you’ll have to watch the first Jubei-chan.

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  5. […] Outside of Superbook and My Last Day, there are no Christian anime… or are there? Five in particular stand out as having a clear, Christian ethos, while at least twenty-one others borrow heavily from Christian doctrine. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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  6. Samuru says:

    Awesome list here ! Thanks for putting this together. I haven’t seen quite a few of these so looking forward to see what I find when I watch some.

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    • You’re welcome! I’m glad that you’re interested in some of these titles. I particularly recommend Lost Universe to you, because the author of Slayers also made this one. Some people complain about the poor animation and CGI, but I myself really enjoyed it.

      Your comment reminds me that I really should go about making a page on this soon. One of my worst foibles is sometimes not finishing what I start. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Samuru says:

        Ah, you remembered that I like Slayers. Very cool, its one of my favorite but its not the best animation. Its just funny and good character development.
        I will check that one out for sure, I have heard of it somewhere…..and yeah, I think a page like that for a Catholic audience and Christian as well, or just those interested in the subject, would be good. There are tons of Catholics that watch anime, they would appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. […] Medieval Otaku put together a fantastic list of anime that are either overtly Christian, or have strong Christian/Catholic themes behind them. It’s my personal favorite of this month’s anime list. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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