Hello, everyone! What a treat, seeing me here two weeks in a row, right?😂 But really, this is some exciting news!
Two days ago, on Wednesday the 1st, the second volume of Finding God in Anime: A Devotional for Otakus, was released, and I am so honored and super thrilled to be a part of the blog tour celebration!
I was first introduced to the world of anime by friends in my early teens, and I was hooked from day one (it’s kinda hard not to be when your first anime is Fullmetal Alchemist!) I devoured stories like Soul Eater, Black Butler, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Haikyu!!, Bleach, Sword Art Online, Trigun (and, like, a TON more) and for a while, if it wasn’t anime, I wasn’t watching it. I loved the wild stories, crazy adventures, and epic characters, and through them I fell in love with tales in genres I wouldn’t normally pick up, like sci-fi, western, paranormal, thriller, mystery, romance—pretty much all of them😅
But in those days the only people I knew who were also interested in anime were the friends who introduced me to it, and it wasn’t long before most of them drifted out of my life as they pursued their own dreams, doing this weird thing called ‘growing up’. So I felt stranded in my newfound otaku-ness, unable to connect with the people around me because of vastly contrasting interests. No one from my church family was into it, if they even knew what anime was, and I struggled enough with being an introverted writing nerd that this was just too much.
I felt I couldn’t make friends with the people around me because we were just too different. Because I couldn’t relate with all the things that my peers were so fond of (coffee, soccer, school drama, live action crime/cop shows, etc.)
That isolation I lived in then began whispering doubts.
“Should you be watching this stuff?”
“Is it sinful to enjoy these shows?”
“Are you a bad Christian because you watch anime?”
I started to wonder if I was going down a dark, occultist path! I even considered giving up on it if it was compromising my faith. I had no one to turn to who understood the situation enough to give me sound advice—at least, that’s what the voice in my head told me. I had a problem and no way to fix it without potentially gouging out a chunk of my story-loving soul.
And then I got an email.
It was one of those Amazon promotional (You might be interested in . . .) emails. I don’t know why I opened it, since I don’t usually, but I did. And on the list was this ebook called Finding God in Anime: A Devotional for Otakus.
I’m not big into ebooks. I really struggle with reading that format. But this was something else. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped when I saw that title and tagline! I was absolutely flabbergasted. Gobsmacked. Honestly, amused. I had reached the point where anime and Christianity did not and could not go together. They were two entirely separate parts of me, so when I saw that title I snagged it.
I had to know what it was all about. I had to know how these two seemingly opposing forces in my life could in any way come together. I was honestly expecting a bunch of baloney, or twisted theology. I had low expectations for something so unconventional. I had little hope. But I was curious, so I read it.
And my world turned on its head.
Each piece was written by an individual who, on the occasion that they shared, had dealt with the same fears, doubts, and loneliness that I was struggling with. Each one took an anime, some I knew well and others I hadn’t heard of, and pulled from them biblical truths about family, forgiveness, and compassion. All in truth and sound doctrine.
I can’t say that any one of the devotions in particular gave me that ‘a-ha!’ moment, but the book itself—what it was, what it meant—opened my eyes to a fundamental truth that is so simple and yet I was blind to for years:
Anime is storytelling.
I can laugh about it now, but there was a time when this idea completely eluded me! In and of itself, ‘anime’ is just a word used to describe an art style, little different from ‘cartoon’, ‘animation’ (from which it is derived), or ‘CGI’. It is a style of Japanese origin, closely linked with their graphic novels called ‘manga’. (Because, you know, they speak a different language). But at the heart of these shows, behind the catchy pop themes and exaggerated expressions and physics-defying hair and cultural influences, they are stories.
Stories just like the regular novels I read with mythical creatures, magic, and pantheistic deities (I’m looking at you, Percy Jackson). Stories just like the regular movies I watched with unrealistic fight sequences, sideways theology, and wacky costumes (and yes, I’m looking at you, MCU).
Stories that portray characters with real problems in fantastic ways. Characters who defy injustice, fight for what is right, stick to their convictions, learn to love others, overcome fear, and stand in the face of evil.
Anime is just another shape of storytelling, and story is from God. Jesus taught using stories all the time. In fact, it says in Mark 4:33-34 “And with many such parables [stories] He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them. . .”
In context, Jesus was being followed by multitudes of people everywhere he went—even to the point where he had to teach from a boat, lest the press of the crowds crush him! He spoke in parables, analogous story, to show things like God’s love for his people, or God’s forgiveness of sins. Things like the power of forgiveness and compassion. To his disciples when they were alone he explained the meaning (in storytelling lingo, the ‘theme’) of his parables, but to all the average Joes who were in it for the miracles, he spoke in story.
Because story is how we understand things. And because God is creative, and made us creative, we tell stories to help both us and others understand things. Things about the world, about God, even about ourselves.
I could go on for hours about this topic, but to rein everything back to the original point: reading Finding God in Anime helped me see something that had been staring me in the face for years. Anime is stories, and stories, selected with discernment, are a good and wonderful thing. That was my ‘A-ha!’ moment. This book lead me to an entire community of believers who love Jesus and anime without compromising their faith. It brought about healing and relief from years of fear and doubt, of feeling insecure and incompatible, of thinking that my passion for anime was something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. It lifted that heaviness on my heart, showed me I wasn’t alone, and gave me what I had been so close to throwing away:
Joy. Community. Inspiration. Friendship—since this book, I’ve met and been able to connect with other awesome folks who are anime nerds just like me, relationships I may have never had without that kindred spirit.
And so, when I learned that Laura and Moriah Jane were putting together a SECOND volume, I couldn’t not get excited about it! Here’s what it’s about:
Have you ever wanted a season two of your favorite anime but found out it is unlikely for the company to produce one?
Stinks, doesn’t it? Well, Finding God in Anime definitely isn’t like that. After all, you’re looking at volume two right now!
Welcome to the second installment of the acclaimed devotional: Finding God in Anime! Each bite-size piece comes straight from the passionate otaku souls in our collective of Christian authors. You will find anime-inspired pieces from across tons of beloved genres within this devotional, and each one presents a unique and Biblical outlook on your favorite shows!
- Find God’s fatherly love in Daddy’s Girl, inspired by Fullmetal Alchemist
- Go down to your atoms to discover God’s purpose for us in Job, inspired by Cells at Work
- Huddle up to hear God’s game plan for living like Him in Get Your Head in the Game, inspired by Kuroko’s Basketball
…and so many others! So grab your shuriken or computerized make-up compact and join us on the exciting adventure of finding God’s teachings in anime!
The book released just this past Wednesday with classic paperback and free ebook versions available.
If you love Jesus and anime, or know someone who does, I cannot recommend this series enough!