Untangled: I Like This Anime, But…

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.   For today’s post, we received the following from Projected Realities: My heart had been kind of...

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.   For today’s post, we received the following from Projected Realities:

My heart had been kind of hurting because of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”… not so much because of what it did to the Biblical story (that much I can deal with and ignore, though Noah ended up being a jerk) but because of how much I really felt like it pushed the limits of its PG-13 rating in ways that I’m really not comfortable with.  And I was wondering if any of you guys had ever had to do that with a story, where you otherwise enjoy said story but have to make your “yes or no” opinion of it more complex than it should have had to be, because the sometimes-otherwise-good story includes various pieces of objectionable content that run the risk of making it really offensive.

TWWK: Thanks for the question!  As a Christian watching anime, I’m almost exclusively watching series in that category (ha!). Well…maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it certainly sometimes feels that way.  Some anime are so objectionable that avoid them entirely, but many walk that fine line.  Those are the series where I need to really make a discerning decision – what’s the value of this series?  How is it affecting me?  Should I continue watching?

We probably all have a lot of anime series that fit this category.  And in fact, the movie Noah might fit here for me as well.

Japesland: I actually quite like Noah, and I think many people don’t realize that it gains much inspiration from extra-biblical texts of the same flood account. But considering your sentiments on it, that obviously is not your issue (as you stated). That aside, however, I can definitely empathize with your situation, and I can think of one Scriptural passage with two real life applications of my own.

The passage you probably know all too well is I Corinthians 10, in which Paul addresses the topic of eating meat sacrificed to idols. To some this was sinful, while to others it was not. The deciding factor here was that it was sinful based primarily on their individual reactions and attitudes toward it.

The two shows of this that come to mind in my personal life are Game of Thrones (sorry, not an anime!) and the Monogatari series.

While I loved the Song of Ice and Fire books and greatly enjoyed season one of Game of Thrones, I simply decided I could not watch it in clear conscience. As an unmarried single male with a lively imagination, the frequent gratuitous nudity and sexuality simply went beyond my limits. However, I state that knowing several well-founded Christian friends who do not struggle as much with those issues and are able to consume it without issue.

On the other hand is the Monogatari series, with which I have the deepest love-hate relationship. I absolutely adore the direction of the series, from art to composition to writing. However, Monogatari (especially Nisemonogatari and the most recent entry Tsukimonogatari) features some of the most ridiculous ecchi I have seen in something that has not reached hentai status. Perhaps it is due to being animated, or perhaps I am simply more attached to Monogatari than Game of Thrones, but I have overlooked those scenes in order to consume what is otherwise a fantastic series. I will never re-watch some episodes for said content, but it has not stopped me from consuming the series as a whole.

TWWK: Monogatari definitely fits the bill for me.  I eventually dropped it, despite really otherwise enjoying the show.  Coincidentally, my love for the material of ASOIAF and the Game of Thrones series has me continuing to watch, though I definitely do see a gazillion redeeming qualities within. 

How about you, Kaze?

Kaze: The first one that comes to my mind is OreTsuba, which I wrote about here. Saya no Uta was even more complex when it comes to weighing the pros and cons. However, in the cases of both, they really don’t tread any border so much as just straight up being R-18+, which is why I normally just don’t even mention them to people. But I think there’s something to be said about stories where “this has content which is 100% objectionable but I acknowledge the overarching theme/story as good.”

Monogatari definitely walks the border more closely than those 2. 

TWWK: This season, Yuri Koma Arashi is firmly entrenched in the whole “walking the border” camp.  The entertainment value is very high, but the yuri elements (though see Frank’s article on yuri) and fanservice have me very close to dropping the show.  But my respect for the director and wonderful experience with Mawaru Penguindrum have kept me hanging on for now. 

On a concluding note, I was reminded of Oreimo by Zeroe4, who gave me that series as the first that came to his mind, and that maybe hits the question more the head than any of our examples, because it deals more specifically with principles related to religion than some of ours and the idea of relationships and what crosses the line.  Thanks again for the question – I hope our responses helped! 

Readers, please respond!  What series come to mind for you?  How do you deal with watching them when it makes you uncomfortable to do so?

Otaku. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Meg Ryan movies. Self-anointed sushi chef. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Forever stuck in the 90's. Thinks the 80's was better than it was. Jesus is King.
49 Comments on this post.
  • nlnrose
    15 January 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I could go on for a while hear I have a rule that i stop any series with a pentagram or other occult symbols thus I’ve started, but never finished FMAB, Accel world, Fairy Tail, I’m not watchin the new season of Log Horizon either due to a pentagram in the first season

    • nlnrose
      15 January 2015 at 6:21 pm

      the issue is i really like all of those show so its really tough for me to leave those shows behind.

      • TWWK
        15 January 2015 at 7:23 pm

        That’s an interesting rule – I didn’t have that rule when I was younger, but effectively I did – I sold my Evangelion collection, even, based on this belief!

        I would ask you to consider a couple things, though (and you may already have, so forgive me in that case!). One, when you watch a series, think about the messages being shown. The Bible – which albeit is FAR off from any anime series – contains violence, incest, idol worship, etc. – but only because A) it’s fact and B) it shows the story of man’s sin and God’s grace. The very presence of evil doesn’t make a medium evil – it may do the opposite, actually!

        And secondly, think about if these elements are leading you to sin – they very well might be! For me, for instance, the presence of a pentagram has NOTHING on over-the-top fanservice when it comes to sinning – I’ll take the former over the latter.

        Take care, and thanks for joining in with our blog here!

        • nlnrose
          16 January 2015 at 12:34 pm

          To be perfectly honest the rule was initially in place because it was my parents and I’m living with them to save on college costs. However, I had an encounter with an occultist trying to convince Christians to do white magic. I had watched through Log Horizon and even forgot about the pentagram when i bought the dvd. This encounter though led me to reevaluate my stance and I decided that I probably not bring something that is real life magic into my life. The issue i have with it is that it is a clear symbol of the occult powers being represented and often used by the Heroes of light and good (Fairy tail, Log horizon, FMAB) I would have to agree with the Fanservice as well though. I have often dropped a series for it, but I often watch fantasy stories (I love lord of the rings, redwall and the like). I also will almost always look up a series before watching. This often means going to CAA or other sites like it. This means that I often get magic which I’m fine with if its simply the “I shoot the fireball of destiny at you” kind, but the occult exists in the real world so it’s just not okay for me. I have often considered continuing FMAB or Log, but every time i start them again I get a check in my spirit. In response to your point about the Bible having all of those things, it doesn’t tell us the details of an occult ceremony or anything resembling that. I have watched parts of and anime (DN Angel) though that have actually shown a ceremony to endow a person with occult powers, and dropped it despite being an anime my friends kept on pressuring me to see.

          Oh one last note I think i posted something similar before i got a wordpress account under Nolan on another post.

  • RedRavenMatt
    15 January 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Wow, I just sent a question in to BtT that was just like this one, and it is answered here, helped me understand what’s up. Especially TWWks comment to nlnrose aswell as I Corinthians 10. Thanks for the post.

    • TWWK
      18 January 2015 at 8:29 pm

      I’m glad this was helpful!

  • projectedrealities
    16 January 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks so much for the wonderful post, guys, I appreciate it! =)

    Japesland, thank you for understanding where I was coming from regarding “Noah.” As you said, my issue wasn’t the extra-Biblical take on the story, but rather that the movie from an emotional and psychological standpoint didn’t feel appropriate for its PG-13 rating. Of course I’ve seen “worse” in films, but my comfort standards tend to vary based on what I think is appropriate for a film’s rating and target audience. I’ve seen far worse sexual abuse in movies than in the second Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie (one chipmunk gets poked repeatedly in the rear while he’s stuck up against a wall and can’t do anything), of course, but I still consider this profoundly inappropriate in light of the movie’s context and probable target audience. Likewise for “Premium Rush,” a film I otherwise greatly enjoyed but which contained a massive and awkward amount of profanity for its rating. Going back to the case of “Noah,” I’ve had to dissuade a number of my friends from seeing the film–some Christian, some not–simply because I know these people and their tastes, and I’m well aware that they simply would be deeply upset at the psychological trauma some of the characters in the film have to go through.

    Thank you for bringing up 1 Corinthians 10. I think it’s a definite good point, and I’ve noticed that my “comfort levels” have changed a lot here over the years, but not necessarily because I feel like I’m sinning when I watch or play something. Sometimes it’s simply a yearning for something more.

    “While I loved the Song of Ice and Fire books and greatly enjoyed season one of Game of Thrones, I simply decided I could not watch it in clear conscience. As an unmarried single male with a lively imagination, the frequent gratuitous nudity and sexuality simply went beyond my limits.”

    Thank you so much for honoring us with this bit of honesty. I wish you the very, very best, and Japesland, I want you to know that I have been praying for your needs and desires, which our Father understands, knows all about, and will provide for as He knows best (Matthew 7:11), whether here or in the hereafter (Revelation 21:4). TWWK, I also wish you God’s blessings in this area as well.

    I haven’t seen Monogatari, but I’ve read all five of the Song of Ice and Fire books and seen a few episodes of the show. As far as “fan service” goes, I think it can become pointless even from a purely practical, amoral perspective–I’m not going to be intimately involved with the person or character being “showcased,” so why should I bother lusting after her?

    In the context of Game of Thrones, I think the very first episode took this to its logical breaking point. You have a girl who is completely naked (both in the sense of being without clothing and without defense from the people around her), most of whom the camera is more than happy to show off. She’s beautiful, but I was put off of this because of the context where nearly everyone in her life exploits her. Am I supposed to be enjoying the sight of her while she’s being treated so horribly?

    ————————

    I think the other side of the “personal conscience” coin is that some people try to assume that watching “pornography” or sexually explicit content is necessarily the same thing as lusting after it. Does every guy inherently lust for the girls on Game of Thrones, or vice versa? I would imagine not, and this will come down not only to personal taste but to personal self-discipline (or God-discipline) and maturity. I’m reminded of a lot of what I was told during my upbringing. “Don’t do this. Don’t say this. Don’t watch that show. Don’t read that book or play that game or see that movie.” And on and on and on. It reminds me in hindsight of Colossians 2:20-23, which talks about needlessly restrictive worldly ideas that, while punishing, do nothing to bring about spiritual growth or holiness.

    Even when I was a teenager in high school and having “don’t have sex before marriage” rammed into my brain week after week, I was asking the question inside my own head, “Is there more that can be done with this? ~What can I do~ to turn romance into a positive thing and to honor God with this?” And I wish I’d done more to press my teachers in church and youth group for answers, because if love and romance or anything else are just “one more thing to not screw up,” then why bother? I could sit on the couch all day and technically be fulfilling the “don’t-do-this” commands I hear so often, but what kind of life would that be? I want to know what is truly possible for someone who honors the Lord.

    ————————

    Personally I would love to see more stories that are open and honest and ~Godly~ about intimacy and sex, because while of course I see these things treated as “taboo” by some people in the church, I also see this in the secular world, but in reverse. Seeing these subjects being treated as the butt of a joke doesn’t make me any happier than seeing them ignored altogether does.

    I see this as encompassing four areas —

    Physical – mental – emotional – spiritual

    — And again in my personal experience, I often see Christians start at the right end but not so much address the physical aspects, while in the secular world I rarely hear the spiritual or, increasingly, the emotional aspects addressed. And so in the one case you have a presentation that’s so afraid of embarrassment that it becomes abstract, while in the other you have something that can often become so carnal that I think it misses the point.

    Going back to “A Song of Ice and Fire,” I think the third book, “A Storm of Swords,” shows this problem off perfectly and falls right into it. At one point in the story, you have a character who is half-mourning her dead husband, whom she dearly loved and was treated well by, and half-fantasizing about him. She begins to masturbate, if I may say so–but then a scene of her processing her grief in her own way gets twisted and turned into a needless sex scene with one of her maids, whom she isn’t even romantically involved with. The subject of her deeper needs seems to get lost entirely, and the scene slows the rest of the book to a crawl.

    In principle, what bothers me often about “objectionable content” is not so much, “Ew, this is dirty, I shouldn’t be watching this,” but rather, “I know that God has so much ~more~ for me than just whatever this story or work is settling for, so why on earth should I expend and potentially waste my efforts on things that do not even satisfy me when I know that God yearns to give me better blessings and to have me likewise bless others?” (Isaiah 55)

    And going back to how some people say, “Christians shouldn’t watch X movie or things in general with Y content,” I ask, “What about people who review and critique these shows (like you do) in order to make an informed opinion about them?” In my mind the bigger question is not what I should or should be watching but why I watch it in the first place, since there may be a deeper actual need being neglected. Likewise, I think these kinds of restrictions can miss the point, since it’s perfectly possible to be on a path that isn’t honoring God even if said path doesn’t cross social taboos by being sexually explicit (ever read the Twilight novels or watch Silver Linings Playbook?).

    At the same time, as with “Noah,” I can most definitely respect that people’s personal tastes will vary. Kaze: While I loved the visual novel Katawa Shoujo, for example, I can certainly understand that some people just aren’t interested in witnessing its explicit content just for the sake of an otherwise excellent story. And so I consider personal tastes as distinct and reasonable in contrast to arbitrary and sometimes sexist taboos (Justin Bieber can go without a shirt, but if Janet Jackson does, that’s $550,000).

    ————————

    Again, thanks SO much, guys, to each and every one of you! I greatly appreciated your input and can definitely respect each of your personal decisions, which I am convinced are doing their best to honor God in your own specific ways. I hope I didn’t get on too much of a side topic, but I was deeply reminded (due to the discussion of sexuality in popular culture) about so much of what I’ve been told over the years–which has nothing to do with you guys or what you write or believe–that I simply think lacks Biblical weight and is more of a reflection of an arbitrary, self-reinforcing culture than anything that will actually bring us deeper fellowship with God and other people.

    Oh, and as far as “Noah” goes, I can imagine why a lot of people might not realize it draws on extra-Biblical accounts for its stuff–the movie doesn’t bother to explain itself, and it’s not like I hear apocryphal texts talked about all that often in church anyway, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect most people except religious scholars to even be familiar with the things the movie depicts. Have a wonderful weekend, all of you! May we strive to honor God in all we do and all we are. As far as 1 Corinthians 10 goes, I want to be deeply thankful for all I do without needing to be ashamed of it, such should it honor God (10:30). Praying for you guys!

    • TWWK
      18 January 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us – I certainly agree with so much of it, and it reminds me of the “deeper” issues we need to approach in regards to media. We risk becoming like Pharisees when we follow rules without really understanding why, and we do ourselves (and perhaps God) a disservice when we don’t dig deeper into what we’re watching to think of what it means in terms of our relationship – personally and in the bigger picture of humanity – with God.

      Thanks again, and for sending us this question, too!

  • David A
    16 January 2015 at 7:20 pm

    With the recent Noah movie, is not only about having elements from thw Book of Enoch (like the watchers), but, including gnostic elements too. From what I’ve read about the movie (haven’t watched it), the overall atmosphere, and certain details, like the use of the snakeskin, recall certain elements from various gnostic mythologies.

    • David A
      16 January 2015 at 7:20 pm

      *the Book of Enoch

    • projectedrealities
      17 January 2015 at 5:11 pm

      The movie, whose review I linked in my question at the top of the page, was essentially not intending to be a straightforward Biblical retelling of the story, as said story covers only a few chapters in the book of Genesis and wouldn’t really have enough content to fill out two hours on its own. The basic premise was kept, but there are far more subplots that, while not Biblical-historical, give the audience additional details to latch onto and be entertained by (e.g., Shem’s mate Ila’s character arc, since she was probably my favorite character in the whole film). Really the film feels like an experimental drama, starting off feeling like a post-apocalyptic journey movie, then becoming more of a standard fantasy story, then shifting into a character drama at the halfway point as the story sheds most of its fantasy/supernatural elements. In other words, I think the movie does a better job of entertaining than educating, and if someone wants to know what really happened in the Biblical account, they can simply pick up the book and read it.

      • David A
        17 January 2015 at 5:24 pm

        A basic problem is the use of gnostic elements, which aren’t Old Testamnet Apocrypha (like the Book of Enoch), but something very different.

        The existence of the Biblical text, is not that good of a justification for productions like this one. Is something linked to the topic of this article. If questionable productions got less support, eventually things like that are going to stop being produced.

        • projectedrealities
          17 January 2015 at 5:31 pm

          If I may ask, what in specific terms is the problem? To be frank, I doubt the “Gnostic” elements will widely be understood anyway except by people who have already done deep studies into Gnostic ideas anyway, so I don’t see this as being likely to steer Christians or non-Christians astray any more than they may have been anyway. The movie doesn’t really dwell on the snake skin–its role in the story could have been fulfilled just as well by any sort of ink-holding material–and I don’t think showing off a snake skin is really much of an advertisement for Gnosticism or any sort of belief system in general.

          As far as cutting support to “questionable productions,” that’s a double-edged sword. The best way to make an informed opinion about “questionable productions” is to actually watch and study them (so as to avoid making statements based on hearsay), and if that means giving the producers money in order to have access to their work, that may be a necessary price to pay.

          • David A
            17 January 2015 at 6:07 pm

            The use of the snake, and the gnostic elements, are mainly taken from two sects. Ophites and Sethians. The former, include into their myths, a retelling of genesis where one of the Aeons and emanations of the Monad, Sophia (wisdom), in the form of the serpent, gives Adam and Eve (that had light and clear bodies) that seduces them into eating the forbidden fruit, against the precept of the Demiurge.

            The latter, mention Seth, third son of Adam and Eve, as the guardian of their beliefs, that passed down generation after generations. Another important character in their myths is Norea, wife of Noah . They share many beliefs with the other sect, like considering the snake an heroic character.

            A common element in these sects, is the rejection of the Old Testament, the hatred for procreation and the creation, and a constant oppossition to Christianity.

            While not many people are going to pick these references instantly, these are ideas or concpets that can be remembered. Subtle things, but subtle things are important too.

            Regarding reviews, actually, is possible to be well informed about a work without watching it. Today, there are lots of resources to do that. For example, a variety of reviews in various styles, wikis describing many details, websites like myanimelist, anidb (the tags section, specially), tvtropes (known as a timewaster site too), blogs and forums.

          • projectedrealities
            17 January 2015 at 6:17 pm

            If you simply watch Noah for yourself (though I wouldn’t recommend taking children–the movie’s quite violent), you’ll see that the movie doesn’t hate procreation or creation and portrays very negatively those who do. I was surprised at how the movie never tried to vilify God for sending the flood. It was continually shown to be the fault of the wicked people, who are portrayed unambiguously as being wicked. While Noah’s character development goes down some very questionable paths, the movie never tries to glamorize these or the evil actions of the people who do not know or honor God. Oh, and the serpent in the garden is portrayed as a villainous sign of temptation, just as it was in The Last Temptation of Christ.

            Relying on secondhand sources is dangerous, especially if you’ve ever seen an “edit war” on places like Wikipedia or TV Tropes, where people go back and forth altering descriptions of a work and its content. You can also wind up with this problem in situations where a work has a message or a scene that can easily be mistakenly interpreted in any of numerous ways. Someone who does this is still basing their views off of what someone else thinks a story meant. I’ve personally seen this go badly (e.g., someone thinking you play as the devil in a video game when that’s actually a completely different person from who you play as), and more importantly, I wouldn’t accept this for the Bible (would you want people making secondhand opinions on the Bible while refusing to read it?), so I don’t see a good reason to accept it elsewhere.

          • David A
            17 January 2015 at 6:34 pm

            I think it would be a waste of time, there are better things I could do in the time it takes to watch it.

            The first two paragraphs, are about the gnostic elements in the movie, the third one, a quick descritption of some gnostic myths and beliefs.

            I’m aware of edit wars, and similar incidents, because of that, I mention various sources. One could ask people that watched some productions too. When comparing various sources one could pick the similarities. Also, I think a tag system like the one at anidb tends to have certain degree of accuracy. I think you are referring more to interpretations and messages, while I’m pointing more to types of content that appear in productions.

            The Bible is a different category, I don’t think entertainment works deserve that level of reverence.

  • David A
    16 January 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Now, about the topic of the article, I think that there are at minimum, some categories:

    Objectionable works that shouldn’t be watched regardless subjective considerations.

    Works that have questionable elements, but depend on the persons watching them, if it affects them or not.

    And works that are recommendable in general.

    With fanservice and sexual content, one of the problems, besides lust, is how the intimate is being made public.

    Now, on to another topic. If the end justify the means, applied to series, etc.

    I think that some productions are a waste of time if even some scraps of good messages could be gathered from them.Something that I think is important, is to cut support to things like that. How we can have better stories, cleaner shows, etc. If the support or pormotion isn’t being cut down? applied to fandoms is a feedback loop. These things can be influentional to lots of people, people in which a percent of them do fanarts and fan fics, and even some of them become pros, making the next works, and the process is being repeated.

    One of the basic problems with interactions between Christians, fandoms and series. For startes, is difficult to have a complete integration, because some series and fandom products are out the question, that leaves us as a subset of the fandom, and if one goes by the opinions of various people in the subsect, more subsects are produced, leaving many of us with a small number of people with similar thoughts, doctrine, moral applications, etc.

    And, after passing the filter of objectionable content, in the sexual area, new filters appear, the message, overall morals, etc. And then, another filter, artistic qualities, production, design, etc. That leaves few high quality recommendable works. In reality, is not much of a problem. But… how many Christians are interested on joining this area of work? for example, art, and entertainment. It looks like a lot of lost areas. One quick trip to many anime sites, forums etc, can reveal a worrying situation.

    For many of you… how it feels to be different to the overall fandom trends?

    I think that is something good.

    • projectedrealities
      17 January 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Regarding the mention of “making the intimate public,” I think you could say that about a lot of different things, including dramatic stories that simply deal with deep (but not necessarily sexual) personal issues. And then you get into the question of distinction between “I don’t want to watch this” and “I don’t think other people should want to watch this or have access to it.”

      Likewise, it is possible for stories to be introspective and to not necessarily condone the things they depict. Even the explicit visual novel Katawa Shoujo did this on occasion, at points where the player character is able to make tempting but irresponsible choices that even the story itself portrays as being wrong. The Bible itself does this with this exact subject, where King David’s son Absalom has sex with his father’s concubines on the palace roof (2 Samuel 16:22). What if someone reading this story lusts for the concubines? Is this their own fault and responsibility, or should the Bible censor this content?

      • David A
        17 January 2015 at 5:40 pm

        “Making the intimate public”, is one way of describing it, but I think is clear what I’m speaking about. That could be useful for describing an extended problem of people being too open and eager to reveal private things about themselves too.

        About not condoning the things depicted, that is important too, and a good component of the moral of an story. Now, is possible to refer to things without being explicit. In written stories, there is a possiblity of being some levels more dettached in representation (unless they are being too descriptive) compared to audiovisual productions, in which is more easy to have content that is going to be an occassion of sin.

        • projectedrealities
          17 January 2015 at 6:03 pm

          I think you still need to be clear and specific, however, because a lot of this sounds like opinion. Sex is significant enough to call intimate, of course, but what about kissing? Hugging? Hand-holding? (All of these are necessary to list — http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/17353757/bill-would-define-holding-hands-kissing-as-gateway-sexual-activity )

          “Objectionable works that shouldn’t be watched regardless subjective considerations”

          That’s an extremely strong statement–what works, specifically, fall under this category (Noah? The Passion? The Last Temptation? My Little Pony?), and do you think an exception should be made for review and analysis? Really, this sounds like a self-conflicting statement, because by this logic, the only way to know whether something “shouldn’t be watched” would be to actually watch it.

          “content that is going to be an occasion of sin”

          May I ask what you mean by this? Are you talking about works that depict sinful activities (whether to portray them as positive or as negative), or are you saying that a writer has somehow sinned by putting this content in their work? I don’t really understand what the principle here is.

          • David A
            17 January 2015 at 6:13 pm

            Works that shouldn’t be watched, for starters, pornography, blasphemy. I think that is clear enough.

            Ocassion of sin: As the name implies, something that is going to lead someone into sin. It has a subjective element, and in various levels. There are things that affect more people, and things that are tolerated easily by others, for example. The writter has sinned? yes, is possible that said situation can happen too.

          • David A
            17 January 2015 at 6:16 pm

            About reviews and similar.

            I haven’t thought too much about that from a moral theology viewpoint, so I can’t give too much of a good answer for now, but I guess that could be problematic too.

  • Luminas
    18 January 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I’ve seen your comments before, David A. You seem unusually concerned about material that appeals to the prurient interest— I.E. Sexual material in media. But in reality Christianity whole-heartedly condemns murder, lying, stealing, blasphemy, violence….any number of sins. And in fact things of this kind happen very often in the Bible itself.

    Whether you should watch something or not should depend on whether any of these tempt you to sin, right?

    • David A
      18 January 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Well, these materials present very common temptations to people. Not many people is tempted to murder; compared to the number of people that is tempted to sins of the 6th and 9th Comandments,

      Also, since I’ve observed a decline in both anime productions and the fandom during various years, and is linked to these contents, of course I think is something to be concerned about. Unusual? or is that lots of people stoped caring about these things years or decades ago? Tipically the criticism I’ve seen in varios sites against fanservice isn’t because can induce lust, but instead, they have some sort of double standard where the same type of fanservice can be acceptable or not depending of how the character is presented to the viewer or things like that… oh please, that misses the point.

      The problem is not so much mention of these things in a didactic context, but, the graphical representations and the presentation of these sins as neutral or positive things.

      Also, while there is a subjective element in what tempts some people, there are things, like pornography for example, that in moral theology are considered material that shouldn’t be watched.

  • Luminas
    19 January 2015 at 7:08 pm

    “Well, these materials present very common temptations to people. Not many people is tempted to murder; compared to the number of people that is tempted to sins of the 6th and 9th Comandments,”

    I’m not so sure that’s true. A great many people are also tempted toward violent outbursts, lying, revenge, domestic violence, dishonor of one’s father and mother. Our society has a bizarre double standard about sex versus Everything Else. Such that I’m less willing to depict a naked woman in a book than the horrific murder of a character’s family by a Satanic-esque supervillain.

    That makes no sense at all, especially by Biblical standards which rate all ten of the Commandments equally.

    • David A
      20 January 2015 at 2:30 am

      Society?

      When? now?

      I have years being part of fandoms, and observing them. What is very common about them, for example, regarding illiustrations or written works? erotic content, etc. Not violent works. Which is more common? someone being tempted by lustful thoughts or acts after seeing erotic content in a series, or someone being tempted to rob a bank after seeing a scene depicting a bank robbery? lust related sins, from a practical standpoint, are more easy to commit too.

      Is not bizarre, is based on what tempts people more easily. Also, things like abuse, violence, etc. are still frowned upon by society, while various sexual related sins stopped being something of concern for the majority of people (thankfully, things like rape and abuse are still seen as bad). That’s one of the differences. Someone falling into violence related sins isn’t going to get away with it with that facility.

      I don’t like gore and excesive violence either, that is not something good, and is a problem of certain series and movies. Same with the disrespect towards parents that is insinuated or directly promoted in some productions.

      A grotesque depiction of murder is not acceptable either, that would be a false dichotomy example.

      Regarding how grave are some sins against the Commandments, some sins are worse than others. For example, blasphemy and sacrilege are worse than lust related sins.

  • Luminas
    20 January 2015 at 8:45 am

    “What is very common about them, for example, regarding illiustrations or written works? erotic content, etc. Not violent works.”

    They’re both equally common, but neither the social justice warriors neither the conservatives give a damn about the violence. Punching, kicking, bloody terrible murder, actions that would kill most people but don’t kill the protagonists, horrific brainwashing and torture…

    All of these things are absurdly common in media today, and teenagers regularly read books like 1984 and watch things that are far worse. Series like The Bourne Identity outright appear to encourage violence in extreme situations and glorify an ugly, grisly vengeance and “heroism” that does not remotely adhere to the teachings of the Bible.

    The most basic difference, at least, between anime and Western media in this regard is that there IS a bit less condoned violence in anime overall.

    “Which is more common? someone being tempted by lustful thoughts or acts after seeing erotic content in a series, or someone being tempted to rob a bank after seeing a scene depicting a bank robbery? lust related sins, from a practical standpoint, are more easy to commit too.”

    It seems to me….neither is more common, in terms of actions. I have, for one, never been tempted to actually have intercourse with someone as a result of sexualized media. It’s more difficult to set up than you might expect. X] When people DO actually have sex out of wedlock, it’s also not like the first thought on their minds is, “Let’s do that thing they did in Episode 40.”

    In fact, the adulterous behavior rate in the Middle Ages, when the culture was extremely Christian…was almost identical. Heck, non-visual pornography was commonplace shortly after the invention of the printing press and no obscenity laws existed on the books until the 1700s.

    “Also, things like abuse, violence, etc. are still frowned upon by society, while various sexual related sins stopped being something of concern for the majority of people (thankfully, things like rape and abuse are still seen as bad).”

    You have one point here that is true: Social mores have changed to the point where screwing someone out of wedlock isn’t considered a concern anymore. Back then, marrying and screwing were so closely linked that villains in media went out of their way to marry the kidnapped princess. Not so much now, but we statistically screw each other about as often as before.

    So is the issue to you the commonality of the behavior (Which is exactly the same), the depiction of it (More common), or the level of moral condemnation of it (Very different)?

    • David A
      20 January 2015 at 9:24 am

      I don’t like works that glorify or normalize other sins either, but linking it to your first question, I don’t comment much about violence and gore here, because, well, I don’t remember gory anime being reviewed or discussed here since I’ve been regularly commenting.

      Also, in my experience in various art sites, violent illustrations, or fanarts etc, aren’t that common compared to erotic ones, or with “shipping” in the various types of pairings that are popular now.

      Not only adultery, but pornography use, lustful thoughts, self pleasure etc. Not that they are thinking exactly in that episode 40 scene (although is possible), but is more about how these things begin to shape the forma mentis, what things are people going to perceive as normal, as common, as desirable.

      While silful behavior has been around humanity since the Fall, today we are experinecing an unprecedented acceptance of it. Back then, there were various “levels” going on. Society, culture, family, religion, environment. Now many people went trhought the hassle to defy various of these levels. Today, many of these lack that influence, and people that wouldn’t be doing these things in the past, are doing them now. Also, in that times, these things weren’t adverstised so much, etc.

      We are seeing today a lot of disregard fof life, hatred against religion, attacks on the family, rampant sexualization, etc.

      The problem is about these three issues you mention, more common behavior, more common representations of it, and a increasing lack of care about these things.

      • Luminas
        20 January 2015 at 11:18 am

        “or with “shipping” in the various types of pairings that are popular now.”

        Shipping doesn’t seem terribly problematic if what’s being depicted is just that, and not sex. Lots of pictures just show two people being intimate psychologically, fully clothed. Unless you dislike the idea of dating, but well…that’s been around since the twenties.

        “how these things begin to shape the forma mentis, what things are people going to perceive as normal, as common, as desirable.

        While sinful behavior has been around humanity since the Fall, today we are experiencing an unprecedented acceptance of it.”

        As I noted, acceptance and increased prevalence of the actual behavior don’t quite equate. The same way violent video games don’t actually make all the kids who play them more violent, and having gay parents doesn’t “turn you gay.” It just makes you accept the idea of gay people. 😉 It seems like people care less about the actual incidence of a behavior and more about how “accepted” it is.

        “We are seeing today a lot of disregard of life, hatred against religion, attacks on the family, rampant sexualization, etc.”

        Much of the hatred toward religion does bug me, because it actually harms people— religious people, like you and my sister. It also makes it awkward to explain that I actually worship Someone because at this point (Although true Christianity gets a special loathing) accepting ANY Christian concept as true makes people look at you funny.

        But I’ve probably rambled on enough for today. :}

        • David A
          20 January 2015 at 11:34 am

          You know, a lot of shippers don’t stop with pics like that. Also, you have the obsession with yaoi/yuri, and recently… incest, and how agressive these “discussions” about shipping can get.

          Acceptance increases the prevalnce of a behavior, from a more material standpoint, if the risk attached to something are being removed, more people is willing to do something.

          One example, that I’ve seen in various places, is immodest clothing, first, presented and normalized via tv, magazines, some people, etc. Then, more people begin to dress like that, and we are now at a point were in various places the majority dresses like that.

          You mentioned violent videogames. Is not that somewhat similar to what I was saying about action scenes or violence isn’t going to tempt people so much compared to sexual content?

          Of course, some violent content is very shocking.

          Yes, even wathered down presentations of Christianity get attacked in some way.

          • Luminas
            20 January 2015 at 12:02 pm

            “The example, that I’ve seen in various places, is immodest clothing, first, presented and normalized via tv, magazines, some people, etc. Then, more people begin to dress like that, and we are now at a point were in various places the majority dresses like that.”

            I can see that. Although again, statistically speaking actual out of wedlock sex hasn’t increased or decreased all that much.

            “You mentioned violent videogames. Is not that somewhat similar to what I was saying about action scenes or violence isn’t going to tempt people so much compared to sexual content?”

            I’d in fact argue that in both cases the kind of person, the individual, determines how tempting the material is along with temptation to do what. That neither is “more” tempting than the other— The difference is in how we view the temptation. And I think the way we view temptation is biased toward sex and bizarre (Frankly, you’re right— The Bible’s worst sin is clearly blasphemy. But we don’t, as a society of people, fixate on blaspheming. In fact blasphemy is the norm! XD) and has been in Western civilization since well before Christianity.

            But I’m basically done, as noted….We’re posting too much.

          • David A
            20 January 2015 at 12:12 pm

            Maybe where you live… but not in other places.

            You mention again that focus or bias towards sexualized content in media… not where I live, not in neighbouring countries… the people that criticizes that sort of things, don’t have much reach or influence, it seems.

            It depends of the person too, but I’m speaking of what I have found to be more influential on lots of people.

            Yes, sadly the spread of blasphemy is increasing too.

      • TWWK
        20 January 2015 at 11:38 am

        I should remark that I’m glad that society is so open nowadays. There’s this frequent push and pull within me regarding it, though – I’m saddened to see how people have embraced sin without shame, but at the same time, I think people are more willing than ever to discuss any topic truly and deeply – more than at a surface level. The road to Heaven has always been narrow – the people of the past have flocked to the wide path – even if their lips said the right things, their hearts weren’t right with God. Today is no different in this respect, but now, we can start having frank discussions without all the baggage that past generations have carried.

        • David A
          20 January 2015 at 11:53 am

          I think that now you entered into the territoy of specific Christian Churches, and different cultures.

          “Baggage”, etc. At least, that doesn’t seem to be something widely applicable to formerly Catholic countries, for starters, the very detailed Moral Theology manuals that adressed a lot of things, etc. And the differences between Anglo influenced and Iberic influenced countries. But that would be another topic. Is not like in the 20th century suddenly Christians discovered how to adress things.

          I think that now, things have worsened, and that we are facing new problems.

          • TWWK
            20 January 2015 at 12:31 pm

            Yeah, I have to disagree here. Yes, we are facing new problems. But no, things have not worsened. Our image of the past is much too idyllic. What see see, imagine, and even remember at a surface level isn’t fully, or sometimes isn’t at all, reflective of what is beneath the surface. The road is narrow, everywhere and in every time.

            I’ll give you an example – a modern one, but one that I think still applies. Korea sends more missionaries out per capita than any country in the world. The country is often pointed to as a success story. But any Korean-American with a real heart for God, and I can attest to this time and time again, will tell you that even in Christian households – even in households of pastors and deacons and clergy – lies domestic abuse, raging anger, racism, hypocrisy, adultery, and all sorts of venom that is reflective more of the devil – and more of the human heart – than of a Christian home.

            Openness does not necessarily make society worse off, more sinful, etc. What it does is better reveal the conditions of our hearts. The sinners may sin the more, the righteous may be tempted further (though I might argue otherwise), but the end result is still the same – most will die in their sins because their hearts have been given to the world, to their “lustful desires” (a phrase Paul used well before the advent of fanservice!). They were once hidden (in many cultures, not all), but now they are more exposed.

            And what a great opportunity, then, for Christians to be able to do this – view media (at least that which doesn’t lead them to sin), engage the culture, and share the good news. To share hope. And to let the world know that of the many things they consider, there is one that is truth, and it’s not truth because we’re self-righteous or because we are pure and holy. It’s truth because it’s perfect, gracious love shown by the Father to His creation. And in a world that is so flaunting of how it rejects God, we might be the vessels that can be used to touch hearts that are more open, searching, and able to receive than ever.

          • David A
            20 January 2015 at 1:58 pm

            The problems could be categorized in:

            Things that always have been.
            The same things, but worsened.
            The new and unheard of things.

            While some people can idealize the past a lot, I have noticed more the vilification and constant attacks of what came before.

            Yes, the Narrow Road has always existed.

            Regarding “openness”, it was too, a deliberate attempt to get rid of various structures, customs, that in a way helped with the conduct of people. Also, it was an attack on what was left of Christendom, something directed against family, religion, etc. The damage was too big.

            I agree that is a great opportunity for evangelization too.

  • Luminas
    20 January 2015 at 9:00 am

    And if the issue is thoughts/self-pleasure, the same reasoning seems to apply as violent and lustful thoughts are equally common.

    What I am interested in here is if you believe lust is morally worse than violence, and if so why. It seems to me that damaging someone’s person is much more egregious than sexualizing them.

    • David A
      20 January 2015 at 9:10 am

      Actual violence is morally worse, of course.

      But depictions in media, a fanservice scene is more likely to tempt someone to an actual sin than an action scene.

      • TWWK
        20 January 2015 at 11:31 am

        You know, I wonder about this. For a young adult man, probably. But everyone’s situation is different. For me, at my point of life, I think that hyper-violence affects me way more than sex scenes – it makes me dwell upon evil things, sometimes in a good way (the sinfulness of humanity, the grace of God, etc.) and sometimes bad (depressing, bleak, violent thoughts). I think a lot of people would also be in my boat. And what of women? What kind of scenes lead them to sin? I would be surprised if their the same as for men in our age group and situation (or maybe more accurately, if they were tempted in the same manner by the same material).

        Ultimately, there is lots to go around when it comes to media “compels” one to sin. Media is a reflection of our world, both our sinful nature and what our culture is open to/promotes. And while waging war on media isn’t necessarily bad (or maybe it is), our focus must be on our own hearts. By our words and deeds, we demonstrate to the world a better way. If more Christians lived Christlike lives, I think you would see some change in the media (never wholly) – inside out, as it were, just as the same applies to the change within us.

        • David A
          20 January 2015 at 12:04 pm

          Hyper-violence… different to run of the mill action scenes. Yes that is likely to affect people in various ways, as you have mentioned, and is not something that needs to protrayed in the crude manner many authors seem to prefer.

          Now, these violent thoughts after being exposed to hyper-violence… are the category equivalent of lustful thoughts?

          Well, looking at forums, art sites, etc. It seems that while women tend to prefer things with more emotional content involved, there is a number of them that seem to enjoy more visual things too.

          Not necessarily a reflection, (I understand that as saying that what is shown in media is rather authomated and not directed towards something). There are authors and some people interested on presenting certaing things, promote some concepts, attack others, etc. Or, if you meant by reflection something like the former, I agree.

          Of course, the focus on our own hearts is important too, but I would guess, that in a site like this one, that would be something already known at least in certain level.

          Being more involved in art and culture can help too. But, how many care?

          Even small things like a fanartist sticking to portray only characters or scenes, etc. from good series

  • anon
    22 January 2015 at 1:34 am

    I came across this blog post right on time! I’ve been in the Axis Powers Hetalia fandom for the past 5 years. What I love about it is that the characters are anthropomorphic representations of countries, and we get to see how they interact/relate to one another throughout history. Seeing the dynamics on a “smaller scale” helps me in understanding (esp. a non-history person like me). And it got me looking up the real history itself.

    One thing that gets me uncomfortable though, is that Himaruya sometimes draws fanservice-y pictures of the characters, and it got me shaking my head/backclicking. And there’s implied homosexuality in the series. With a mostly male cast, there’s plenty of slash in the APH fandom too. I mean, it might be different here because we’re talking countries rather than ordinary humans–a country can be personified as male, female, or even genderless. The rules of sexuality for humans may not apply in the same way to these nations. But still, it doesn’t help that a lot of fanwork is created to get viewers to ogle at teh hawtness.

    Luckily, when browsing fanfiction, I’ve usually been really good about avoiding those kinds of questionable content. I’ve found some really great stories that are gen-fic or history-based.

    I mostly lurk in the fan community, staying in my own little corner. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to answer if people ask me what do I ship? If I don’t ship the slash, will they pick up on it? Will they think, “Is that a homophobe on the sneak?”

    But I think my biggest issue with this series, for me, is a general waste-of-time issue. A lot of times, I should be doing something more productive rather than looking up APH stuff. I know that even if a work is totally, perfectly morally sound, it still may be worth giving up if it indeed gets in the way of your time, if spending time on it does not help much in your spiritual growth.

    Any readers here also watch/read APH? Or have in the past?

    • TWWK
      22 January 2015 at 11:42 am

      Thanks for the insight! You know, you pick on something I’ve had to deal with, too, and that’s the whole “how am I going to respond?” if accusations of homophobia are brought up as I participate in a fandom. I’m very cognizant when I discuss same-sex pairings – how should I approach it? What’s a gentle way to do so without compromising my character? And I see the same, occasionally, from other Christians I know who deal with the same. It’s an issue worth considering.

      I also wonder if any of our readers are APH fans. We haven’t written anything on Hetalia in the past, though a question about it, somewhere along these same lines, came up once.

      • anon
        5 February 2015 at 12:32 pm

        Well, in that thread, hansha123 said she’s a fan.

    • David A
      22 January 2015 at 12:06 pm

      A good way to answer, is to point that is part of doctrine and moral theology.

      That, ideally, should dispel these type of accusations.

      But, there are people that want a capitulation in certain moral topics, so they aren’t going to be satisfied with something like that. No matter how watered down, pandering and sorry the answer is (because some people try answers like these too, a bad method), they aren’t going to be satisfied unless there is acceptation of that shippinng stuff they like or support.

      So, what is best? to ignore these people, and go with the first answer.

      • Luminas
        22 January 2015 at 12:48 pm

        “A good way to answer, is to point that is part of doctrine and moral theology.”

        Seems like this is the only way TO answer and be honest with yourself. Some people are never going to be satisfied with that truth, and that’s their problem and not yours.

        However, many Christians make the mistake of treating homosexuality as different from other sins, and even different from the equally egregious adultery. They go on about how gay people will burn in Hell and display such exaggerated loathing…when in reality even a straight liar or Buddhist would be going to Hell. If Jesus hadn’t saved you, you’d be going to Hell merely for having selfish thoughts.

        The simple answer is, “I believe that homosexuality is a type of sin and do not condone it,” without contempt or judgment reserved for God.

        • David A
          22 January 2015 at 12:56 pm

          Yes, I agree that the first one is the correct way to answer.

          In the third paragraph I criticize other types of responses, and how these, aren’t going to be liked by some people either.

          Well, some people overlook other grave sins, but, while both of these you mention first are both grave and without forgiveness of them and repentance can condemn someone, the former has the added component of being contra naturam, so there is a diffence too.

          Quick, direct and without making personal remarks. Good one.

          • Luminas
            22 January 2015 at 1:07 pm

            If you take the Bible to mean what it actually says, ALL sins are contrary to nature. “Let he who has not sinned throw the first stone.” And interestingly, He didn’t.

          • David A
            22 January 2015 at 1:19 pm

            Contra naturam is an specific term referring to Natural Law.

            Is about the use of the sexual act, in this context.

  • Kae-Leah
    20 February 2016 at 5:30 am

    Oh I have a couple favorite series like this:
    *Utena-Love this series, one of my faves, but what’s with all the incest? At least the manga has less incest.
    *Haruhi Suzumiya-Love Haruhi, it makes me laugh, but I don’t like the molesty way she treats Mikuru sometimes.
    *Peach Girl-One of my favorite manga, but let’s be honest, it kinda is just a trashy teen soap opera.

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