Parenting with Anime, Or Not

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.

Just ask your mom.

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7 responses to “Parenting with Anime, Or Not

  • Vendredi

    “There is not much that one could call gospel or bible when it comes to anime”

    Dare I mention Evangelion? Although, according to a lot of Japanese animation, Christianity most of the time actually ends up as some sort of secret club that hangs out in the basement of the Vatican and occasionally ventures out to slay the odd vampire or demon (I’m looking at you this season, Ao no Exorcist, but you’re hardly the only culprit).

    In any case, I think you already raised a big point in your previous posts on the fragmentation of popular culture. Pop culture guides in this day and age, I feel, are invariably doomed to failure in the sense that general perspectives are getting rarer than ever.

    But overall, a great point – thematic significance makes little difference if the viewer isn’t in a place where he can grasp it.

  • TWWK

    Thanks for the linkback and for reading the guide. It’s definitely not intensive – but it wasn’t meant to be. The guide is a very brief overview of anime – an introduction for parents who know little or nothing. I also purpose to help parents feel comfortable with a medium that they might otherwise immediately reject, encouraging them to view anime, rather than simply presenting information.

    As for Christian application in anime – there are definite connections. In fact, if you browse my blog, you’ll find that my entire site is about the connections between anime/manga and Christian spirituality. I’ve discussed Madoka Magica and the Garden of Eden; Haibane Renmei and the power of names in the Bible; Hourou Musuko and grace; OreImo and turning the other cheek; and many others.

    Thanks again for the comments. I look forward to keeping up with your blogging!

  • TWWK

    …or rather, I already keep up with your blogging, and I’ll keep reading. :P

  • omo

    I’m familiar with all those titles you’ve mentioned. I just don’t particularly like that approach to connect spirituality with anime. It’s a valid approach, nonetheless, so I appreciate that at least someone is doing it.

    I just seek God in anime in a very different way. More meta, probably.

    >> Dare I mention Evangelion?

    Sure can. Except that isn’t exactly what I mean by bible or gospel (as in, the encyclopedic sense).

  • jpmeyer

    inb4 “WHAT IS THIS CHRISTIAN MAGIC?!”

  • wsll546

    I am not good at english,but your blog have a pretty miku drawing, if you have some trouble in your life, please learning to miku, i think her songs have alot of the true meaning of life

  • omo

    Wow. I’m impressed. And thank you for your thoughts.

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