Anime Movie Recommendations for Christian Viewers

As with animation in the U.S., Japanese animation is found in movie theaters as well as on television.  Some anime series find their way to the silver screen in movie format, often expanding the series or retelling it. There are also many anime that are movie-only, and like Disney films, some do very big business. In fact, Studio Ghibli films, some of which you’ll see below, are big motion picture events, with a good number among the largest grossing films in Japanese cinematic history. A number of anime films also receive a select release in North America.

Below are our staff’s selections for anime movies that we recommend to Christian viewers. The list is ever-growing, and we invite you to give your own recommendations in the comment section below.

Colorful (Colorful)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyuubin)
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä)
Patema Inverted (Sakasama no Patema)
Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime)
Time of Eve (Eve no Jikan)
Tokyo Godfathers (Tokyo Godfathers)


Colorful

Colorful
Colorful

A film which went under most people’s radars, Colorful is about the soul of a boy who is given the opportunity to reincarnate as someone else. It’s a rather serious film that portrays the difficulties of adolescent teenagers in Japan as the protagonist finds out about the former life of his new body who committed suicide. Simultaneously, he is tasked to remember the greatest sin he committed in his own past life. The character must come to terms with the reality of the situation and what to make of the seemingly broken relationships with those around him.

(2010 ~ Sunrise)

Watch if you:
(+) Like stories about interpersonal relationships
(+) Enjoy slow-paced shows with mostly talking
(+) Want some character drama

Skip if you:
(-) Need action in your films
(-) Don’t want something serious

Biblical Themes:
(+) Learning to love others and yourself

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Heavy use of Eastern reincarnation themes
(-) Topic of suicide
(-) Reference to prostitution

Watch free on Hulu

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kiki's delivery service

Kiki’s Delivery Service
Majo no Takkyuubin

At a young age, little witches are expected to move out of the house and discover the world for themselves. Having found a quaint town by the sea, this is exactly what Kiki does. With almost nothing to her name, she manages, through hardship, to make some lasting friendships and even begin her own business! Kiki’s Delivery Service is perhaps one of the most famous animated films in Japan, even more than in the West, where it has gained modest notoriety. As a foundational piece of anime history, Kiki’s Delivery Service tells a classic coming-of-age story with a focus on the importance of relationships, tenacity, and a good work ethic.

(1989 ~ Studio Ghibli)

Watch if you:
(+) Want a film suitable for the entire family
(+) Like slow-paced, relaxing films
(+) Appreciate masterful art and sound design

Skip if you:
(-) Are easily bored

Biblical Themes:
(+) Whatever you’re doing, do your best!
(+) The importance of relationships and relational sacrifice

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Superficial use of witchcraft, though the concept is not deeply explored

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nausicaa

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä

More than 1,000 years after the world has effectively ended, mankind is limited to isolated cities and villages surrounded by poisonous forests inhabited by giant hostile insects. Even in this state, man finds ways to destroy itself, as is his nature, and the young Nausicaä must find a way to prevent humanity from repeating its dreadful mistakes. While the director, Miyazaki Hayao, is well-known for his environmentalist themes, this movie demonstrates significant spiritual development not often seen in its peers.

(1984 ~ Studio Ghibli)

Watch if you:
(+) Like family Disney films with a deeper spin
(+) Enjoy sci-fi, post-apocalyptic action
(+) Want to see where Studio Ghibli got its theatrical start

Skip if you:
(-) Dislike old anime
(-) Hate bugs

Biblical Themes:
(+) Extended Christ allegory
(+) Sacrificial love
(+) Stewardship of the earth

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Cartoon violence

Read articles about Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

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Patema Inverted

Patema Inverted
Sakasama no Patema

From the director of Time of Eve (see below) comes a post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure. After a disaster born of scientists’ research into generating energy from gravity, much of humanity perished by “falling” into the sky. Of these “cursed” humans, a minority managed to survive by digging deep underground, but they are hated and hunted by those humans who avoided the situation entirely and have been able to live above unaffected. With contact broken for years, suddenly a young boy from above and a young girl from below meet and are sprung into an unforeseen adventure (well, unforeseen for them, anyway). Patema Inverted does not attempt to break new ground with its writing, but it does convey numerous important themes, and the Disney-style adventure’s twists and turns (both literally and figuratively) will leave the viewer surprised. For those interested in the twists and moral narrative, and don’t mind a super cliché villain, you can’t go wrong here.

(2013 ~ Studio Rikka)

Watch if you:
(+) Like Disney-style adventures
(+) Enjoy post-apocalyptic science fiction

Skip if you:
(-) Only like movies with a high degree of rewatchability
(-) Can’t ignore cliché writing

Biblical Themes:
(+) Sacrificial love
(+) Equality of humankind across race
(+) Hypocrisy of “holier-than-thou” attitudes

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Cartoon violence
(-) Abduction and intense villain perhaps unsuitable for small children

Read articles about Patema Inverted

Watch free on Hulu

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Princess Mononoke
Mononoke Hime

Princess Mononoke was one of late 90s anime pieces that kickstarted the Western explosion in anime popularity. Americans found its mature themes, coupled with a depth of storytelling otherwise not found in the animated medium, to be captivating, compelling more and more people to seek out its familiars. As perhaps the most mature of Miyazaki Hayao’s works, Princess Mononoke does not hold back from presenting grotesque and confusing scenes (although at the PG-13 level). While steeped in Japanese spiritual mythology and lore, it the smart and selective viewer will discover that there is much more to meet the eye.

(1997 ~ Studio Ghibli)

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy films about caring and respecting nature
(+) Like exciting, action-filled films
(+) Want to see one of the more mature Ghibli films

Skip if you:
(-) Can’t deal with violence
(-) Want something soothing
(-) Dislike portrayals of other gods

Biblical Themes:
(+) Struggling with “justified” hatred
(+) Accepting that your desires aren’t always what’s best

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Gruesome violence (more so than any other Ghibli film)
(-) Inclusion of “gods” as influenced by Shinto

Read articles about Princess Mononoke

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Time of Eve

Time of Eve (Movie)
Eve no Jikan

Originally adapted from an ONA series (available on Crunchyroll here), Time of Eve is the definitive anime AI philosophy study written in a peaceful time period (think iRobot, but replace Will Smith with a high school boy, and all of the mind-numbing action with discussions at a coffee shop). Based on Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, Time of Eve works to provide an intelligent, but entertaining look at how human computers can be, and what that means for the human race in the future. Although, as mentioned before, Time of Eve is available in its original form for free streaming (as linked above), the movie is the definitive format of the work, as it ties all the ONA episodes together into one seamless story with additional scenes and content (as well as a new theme song).

(2010 ~ Studio Rikka)

Watch if you:
(+) Like philosophical quandaries
(+) Are intrigued by near future science fiction
(+) Value a small, but well-developed cast of characters
(+) Like dry humor

Skip if you:
(-) Get bored easily
(-) Prefer action sci-fi

Biblical Themes:
(+) The aspects of a person that make him human (the primary discussion of the film)
(+) Sacrificial love

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Suggestive themes and apparel
(-) Implied sexual themes
(-) Mild language

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Tokyo Godfathers

Tokyo Godfathers
Tokyo Godfathers

It’s Christmastime in Tokyo, but the most wonderful time of the year is anything but that for some of the city’s homeless, including Gin, an alcoholic; Hana, a drag queen; and Miyuki, a teen runaway. But when the trio find an abandoned baby girl in the trash, they put away their difficulties to find the girl’s mother. As they traverse the city, their journey demonstrates the harshness that might be all too common for the homeless, but it also provides hope, as the three experience miracles of their own as they seek to reunite mother and child in this harsh and vibrant film.

(2009 ~ Madhouse)

Watch if you:
(+) Enjoy gritty films
(+) Like protagonists that are antiheroes
(+) Don’t mind some surrealistic or fantastical aspects in an otherwise realistic movie
(+) Prefer a heavy dose of comedy in your drama

Skip if you:
(-) Are sensitive to violence, cursing, and sexual content
(-) Have difficulty with homosexual and transgender content

Biblical Themes:
(+) Sin, forgiveness, and grace
(+) Underlying Christmas references
(+) Prodigal Son allusions

Content to Look Out For:
(-) Brief nudity (bare breasts in the context of breastfeeding)
(-) Violence
(-) Homosexual themes
(-) Crossdressing
(-) Coarse language

Read articles about Tokyo Godfathers

Watch free on Crackle

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7 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • elricprincess
    22 August 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Yes, Time of Eve. Oh how I love that movie let me count the ways.

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      1 December 2014 at 7:27 pm
  • Anon
    1 December 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Tokyo Godfathers doesn’t feature a drag queen. The character is a trans woman.

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      1 December 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Isn’t she both? I’m a novice when it comes to LGBT terminology, but aren’t drag queens associated with performance or really overtly demonstrating femininity? I think Hana qualifies as such. If not, please enlighten me – I need all the education on this topic that I can get.

      Leave a Reply
  • Cappy
    21 May 2016 at 2:56 am

    What about the film Patema Inverted? I found it to be a fantastic story with biblical elements such as sacrifice, the story of the good Samaritan, understanding, compassion, and love. It’s a kids’ film too, so there is not really any suggestive content in it.

    Leave a Reply
    • Japesland
      23 May 2016 at 2:45 pm

      I am a big fan of that movie, myself! Unfortunately, as is the problem with our anime recommendations page, we simply cannot add EVERY anime out there worth watching. There’s always a chance it might make an appearance in the future, though! Especially since I like it, heh 😛

      Leave a Reply
      • Cappy
        23 May 2016 at 11:48 pm

        Awesome! It just came to mind while I was reading this list. I hope you guys add it. It’s a great film!

        Leave a Reply

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