I read Tangle’s guide to anime for Christian parents, and I’m kind of disappointed that it delivers not much beyond the usefulness of a Wikipedia article. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, it just doesn’t go to any of the instances in which I find some connection spiritually with the anime I’ve seen over the years. Maybe I shouldn’t have been looking for that, being an insider rather than an outsider.
Truth is, religion and spiritual beliefs are intensely personal things, so it’s difficult to write anything about them in a way that is intended for a general audience, at least for me. Parents, too, would also apply that rule, so I think, even if the application is just as intensively personal on the part of the family. It takes a certain gifting or certain moment of inspiration, I feel, to be able to generalize to that level in this category of topics, and at any rate stuff that I probably do not have.
What’s probably just as bad is trying to talk about parenting ideas in the same way, because I feel that is just as personal as anything religious. I mean, do you want to get all up and in inside your tween’s media consumption? Some parents do, others not as much. I don’t blame them. Either of them. I mean, if I was a 14yo, do I want my dad to watch anime with me? I guess regardless how I feel about it, it’s up to the parent or child to decide.
Or not. Because I think either way could work. It’s like how some find religious release and salvation through simple stories and personal anecdotes that resonate with the deepest part of their existence, a personal revelation. Others seek answers in rationality and things they have a deep grasp of, to construct the system that they live by. Some do both.
It’s how I approach anime, actually. Invariably, when we’re dealing the media output of one of the most introverted country and culture in the world, it feels a bit foreign. In other words, anime is a bit like a stranger in my eyes, in my culture’s eyes, and in the eyes of its analysts, critics, policy makers, academics, parents, and what have you. There is not much that one could call gospel or bible when it comes to anime (although there may be a few encyclopedias lying around, and one very black bible), so most people are left to their own devices to make sense of it.
Thankfully, anime is cartoons. It’s not something made in order to discuss really complex issues (even if it can) or to hide something from plain sight (even if it can), or just plain confusing (which happens more often than one imagine, but not that often). I think the average tween-raising adult (probably in their 40s or 50s?) should have enough common sense to handle it. Because the average teenager is by far more complicated than the average anime, and that includes even late night offerings.
So, perhaps it is naive, but I am hopeful that kids will still be kids, and grow up in such a way that how they were cared for reflects appropriately in the end.
And this is basically how I approach the whole Manabi Straight thing. The thing when I wrote about that it is the picture-perfect illustration of God’s kingdom. Because it’s about seeing it; it’s the way how prophecy, anointing, hope, patience, faith, standing up to what is right, fighting for what you believe, understanding, reason, charity, acceptance, and by some measure, love, come together to make a beautiful whatever-it-is. And the thing is, you won’t be able to see it unless you are looking for it, and you can’t find it unless you know what it looks like. That stuff, no amount of anime is going to be able to teach you.