The Christian’s Guide to Anime and Otaku-dom

If you’ve navigated to this page, you may be wondering: What is an “otaku”?

Simply put, in Japanese, “otaku” (or オタク) means “geek, nerd, or enthusiast” (JED, Japanese-English Dictionary). In Japan, this could include anyone from someone obsessed with reading books, to ancient shogunates, to anime, and anything in between. It truly means nothing more than “nerd.” However, western culture has adopted the word “otaku” to mean, specifically, anime otaku. While these exist in Japan (and likely comprise the majority of the population accused of being otaku), it is mostly in the English adoption of the word that otaku has come to mean someone obsessed with Japanese media, particularly anime (check out the Otaku Dictionary for more information on anime-related terminology).

Or, perhaps you’re here because you already knew all of that.

From a Christian perspective, an “obsession” with Japanese media can sometimes be a bit concerning. Japanese artists and writers, statistically speaking, do not come from a biblical worldview, considering that the Christian population in Japan hovers somewhere between 0.3-2.0%. While this might cause some recoil from Japanese media among many Christians, it is worth noting that all humans bear the image of God, regardless of personal beliefs (Genesis 1:27) and that all people, again, regardless of beliefs, bear some part of God’s Word on their hearts (Romans 2:15). Consequently, as with most art and stories, there are often many links to biblical truth or understanding that can be found underlying many areas of Japanese media.

One of our goals here at Beneath the Tangles is not just to share the love of Christ through the medium of anime and similar media, but to also provide an avenue for fellow believers to share in this passion in a Christ-centered environment. For that reason, we have provided a simple guide here, joining our previous Anime Recommendations for Christian viewers, in order to assist people in getting started in this Japan-centric area of interest who might be concerned about it either for themselves or for a friend who they are trying to understand, or perhaps merely would like a friendly push in the right direction.  We’ve also developed a section called Parents Corner, more specifically tailored for those with children who are interested in anime and manga.

Otaku-centered media can usually be broken down into four major categories (excluding video games, which is a category far too broad and sometimes removed from the other four for us to be able to adequately cover here): Anime, Manga, Light Novels, and Visual Novels. Since individual taste often dictates which of these different media someone might show more interest in, below are links leading to a specialized list of recommendations in each medium, complete with description, pros, cons, biblical connections, and questionable content. We hope that you will be able to use these as a resource for your own interests, or in helping a friend.

Anime
Anime (pronounced a’-nee-may) is mostly simply understood as animation produced in Japan, though the definition has expanded in recent years to include that from other countries which is influenced by Japanese animators.  Described as being “characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastic themes,” the form differs markedly from traditional western animation through it’s visual and directorial style and by commonly employing mature themes and fantastical stories.  Well-known examples of anime include Pokemon, Naruto, and Spirited Away.

Visit our anime recommendations page.

Visit our anime movie recommendations page.

Manga
Manga (pronounced mahn’-gah) is simply the Japanese form of comics. While comics in the western world do not hold the vast popularity that manga holds in Japan, the format is similar, playing out in drawn tiles with speech bubbles that convey story and action. Unlike western comics, however, Japanese manga covers many more genres and holds much more relative interest in its homeland, serving as one of the primary source materials for the higher budget anime medium. Well-known examples of manga include Bleach, Fairy Tail, and Attack on Titan.

Visit our manga recommendations page.

Light Novels
Light novels are another published medium like Japanese manga. Unlike manga, though, light novels are more comparable to the western book genre of “young adult novels.” Light novels are novels, or novellas, written primarily for the teenage audience and are released in volumes of somewhere in area of 150 pages. While they are written much like western young adult novels, they are often more dialogue-heavy and also include occasional pictures. Well-known examples of light novels include Sword Art Online, Toradora, and the Haruhi Suzumiya series.

We do not offer any light novel recommendations at this time.

Visual Novels
Visual novels are one of the most unique mediums of Japanese entertainment, and the hardest to compare to western media. Visual novels are often considered within the genre of video games, which is a bit of a misnomer because many of them are “read” more so than “played”. The closest equivalent to western media is the choose-your-own-adventure book (no longer of much popularity), though they actually play out more like a mixture of an audio drama mixed with a manga. Although there are differences within the visual novel medium, most are “read” by clicking through dialogue and thoughts of the main character from the first-person perspective, accompanied by background visuals, character sprites, music, and sometimes basic animations, voice acting, or mini-games. Although the visual novel medium is viewed overwhelmingly in Japan as a carrier of the infamous R-18 eroge genre (pornographic dating simulators), there are many visual novels that are clean and well-written. Well-known examples of visual novels include Clannad and Narcissu.

Visit our visual novel recommendations page.

18 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Take Four – April 2014 |
    30 April 2014 at 7:01 am
  • Me
    30 September 2014 at 3:45 am

    But seriously what’s up with religious fundamentalism? D:

    Why do you believe in god?
    Obviously you are not stupid enough to take the bible literally, you don’t think that earth is 5,000 thousand years old and all of us were populated from 2 people?

    Then i would like to ask how can you justify a believe, yet denying an authoritative core of it. Is it really then the Christianity that you believe in? Or are you a heathen worshiping a god of your own?

    Nevertheless the most interesting question is why do you believe in god?

    Do you support the endeavors of Church to limit the human rights to homosexuals. Do you support the spread of AIDS that the church arguably is driving hence forth, preaching fanatically to the less educated in Africa that they should not use condoms. These things sadly are just the top of an iceberg of what the church involvement has been through centuries. But, ahm, so why would you like to be associated with such an organization?

    But still all that may be irrelevant, why do you believe in god?

    Or what do you believe in is also an interesting question. Do you actually believe that there is an omnipotent spirit just levitating somewhere above the clouds being able to listen to everyone’s prayers and be everywhere? Likely you don’t believe in that.

    Why do you choose to idealize everything that is good into the image of a god. Why won’t you look around and see that rather than shielding away from the world and protecting all the ideality in god, the world itself is actually not that bad. It is beautiful :). Choose not to believe in god, but believe in people. After all the world, the people and everything that exists is the source of everything that is good. And actually, everything that exists is good. The distinction between good and bad is a fallacious one.

    So why wouldn’t you believe in people rather than believe in god?

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      30 September 2014 at 8:39 am

      First of all, welcome to Beneath the Tangles! I’m definitely guessing this is your first time here.

      The reason we believe in God, ultimately, is because we believe the Bible to be true. All the other questions you pose are significant as well – I think there’s a lot I can explain to you, as your wording leaves me to believe that you lack a lot of fundamental understanding about Christianity. If you’re understanding is based on what the culture tells us Christianity is; if it’s based on what you see from those who self-identity as Christians and yet live lives of ungrace; if it’s based on fundamentalism that ultimately advances as a Pharisaical form of culture instead of as a discipleship of Christ, then you’ve missed the root, stems, and leaves of Christianity – the whole shebang.

      We don’t engage in debate here on Beneath the Tangles, but we are open to meaningful, open discussion. If you’re seeking real answers to these questions, send me an email (beneath.the.tangles AT gmail.com). If you’re wanting your voice to be heard, this isn’t the place for it.

      And take care!

      Leave a Reply
    • Jack
      9 November 2014 at 11:18 pm

      As a former Baptist and New Atheist, I encourage speaking out…. but not like this.
      The rhetoric here is set up like a verbal onslaught. I could tell from the smiley that you where trying to be polite, but still. I mean let me paraphrase everything you just said. ~

      ” Come on, you don’t literally believe this crap, look at all these bad things Christians have done, why not idolize humanity.”
      Not the best approach my friend. It just comes off as ignorant and imposing.
      The sad part is %90 of what you said is true. Slanted. But true.

      Here’s a tip. When you try to vilify religion, push away from the Hitches approach. (Focusing on the bad things Christian has physically done.) Instead go onto an intellectual level. (The problem of evil, the problem of hell, and so on.) Philosophy is the middle ground of science and faith and a good bridge to connect by. And most of all DO NOT forget rhetoric and pathos. Logic itself will not sell on it’s own. Even Sam has to keep a pleasant demeanor during a speech. And you did too, but you must also pay attention to your approach.

      Leave a Reply
    • Hannah
      27 April 2015 at 4:01 pm

      Well I believe God because I believe that I am sinful, imperfect and in need of saving from my sin. Did you know that the bible was written by eyewitnesses of Jesus? And if you don’t believe in God, I’m guessing you believe the Big Bang theory. But did you know that nothing can’t make something? Let’s say I walked into a shop full of toys and candy do you think I thought the shop exploded into existance? And doesn’t explosion cause destruction? And God is not some “being in the clouds”, He is our infinite, eternal Creator. And if we came from monkeys, and in the end, are really just a bunch of animals, why is there good and evil? If someone went and robed a shop, lied, murderd and raped people, do you think that’s okay? If so, then your pretty disgusting. When Adam and Eve, the first two people on earth, sinned they were separated from God. Why? Because God is good, and since God is perfect, and just, he has to punish them for what they did. That is why there is death, destruction and illness in the world. Just as a father would punish his son for something he did wrong, God will soon judge all of us according to what we’ve done. And since man cannot save himself from going to eternal punishment ( hell ) God sent his own son to live a perfect life, die on a cross be cast into hell for two days, and rise on the third. Jesus rose from the dead, and destroyed the sin we caused on earth. And he will forgive anyone who comes to him. God loves you! And that’s why we must be careful of what we watch. 🙂

      Leave a Reply
  • Luminas
    10 November 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Vilifying religion in general has never been something I’ve understood. Especially not on a relatively peaceful, warm-hearted website that simply wants to explore the connections between Christianity and anime. And speak passionately and honestly of God in a world that so often doesn’t do the latter. 🙂

    Just because one is an atheist doesn’t mean one has to attack the religious. In fact that’s….incredibly counter-productive, and I see it a lot. I’ve been hurt by religious people too, but not all religious people are the same and half the time the cause isn’t even religion. It’s the tendency of human beings to think in either/or, right-or-sick (Not just wrong, with most people) distinctions. Even the Christian God tends to say outright that He is the judge, and therefore we should not judge others.

    Leave a Reply
  • Sammi
    13 February 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Thank you so much! I really love anime and I want to find animes that are christian friendly. I’ve struggled with it for a while so I want to combine both anime and Christianity. When I’m older I really want to move to Japan and become a manga artist and create christian mangas and animes that christian otakus can enjoy. 🙂

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      16 February 2015 at 1:30 pm
  • aarongray
    2 May 2015 at 2:12 am

    This is a cool site. I love Trigun and it made me smile to see it on your list of recommendations. ^_^

    Keep up the good work and God bless!

    –Aaron

    Leave a Reply
    • japesland
      2 May 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Thanks, I’m glad you like it! Let us know if you have any recommendations!

      Leave a Reply
  • Miri
    21 July 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I’m so happy I found this site! I’m a christian, and while I can enjoy most animes and not have too many problems with different views of life, sometimes I just want to find something I can relate to, more than just my interests.

    Thank you for giving me something truly inspirational to watch! God bless!

    – Miri

    Leave a Reply
    • japesland
      23 July 2015 at 7:47 pm

      I’m glad we were able to provide you with something that helps! I know I went through a long period of wishing there was a resource like this!

      We are hoping to update the various sections of this guide in the coming future, so look forward to it! ^_^

      Leave a Reply
  • Anime is Evil & Democratic – Page 7 – Christian Chat Rooms & Forums
    17 January 2016 at 11:32 pm

    […] called Christians and Anime in this site which may interest other young viewers of anime too. The Christian's Guide to Anime and Otaku-dom | Beneath the Tangles. I've just been reading this. Reply With […]

    Leave a Reply
  • Nadine
    1 March 2016 at 9:04 am

    Oh yata! I’m so glad I have fellow believers in Christ who watch anime! After all, there’s no denying that anime is stunning, especially since it’s made by Japanese. I really enjoy this site. Thanks everyone!

    Leave a Reply
    • Japesland
      1 March 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks for the words of encouragement, Nadine! I hope we’re able to offer you a good resource and challenge you to watch everything you watch through the lens of your faith!

      Leave a Reply
  • Christian Otaku
    19 April 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Hello, this seems like a really cool site. I have a couple of ideas for discussion but I don’t know where to put them. Do you have a discussion forum, or perhaps a place to send in article ideas?

    Leave a Reply
    • Japesland
      19 April 2016 at 5:55 pm
      • Christian Otaku
        19 April 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Get Social!

    Facebook By Weblizar Powered By Weblizar