“We need to harness what we are given, nerdy hobbies and all, and show the world that we are weird and we are loved by God. If we can do that with our actions and our words, then we can influence the world around us in a positive and righteous way.”E.N. Chaffin on Princess Jellyfish, Finding God in Anime
How do you find God in secular places? How can you be in the world, but not of the world? We are called to not be lovers of the world (1 John 2:15), yet the Bible says God so loved the world, He gave His only Son so we could have eternal life (John 3:16). Where do Christians fit in this paradox?
I’ve talked about my approach to writing secular fiction before, but today, I’m thrilled to explore the consumer side with the book Finding God in Anime: A Devotional for Otakus organized by Laura A. Grace and Moriah Jane, which you can learn about here. It’s free on Amazon right now!
This devotional book is a short read with a consistent message: God can be found in anything bearing the beauty of truth. The enjoyment of stories is uniquely human, and one of the most powerful pieces of literature in the world is a big book full of them. But even deviating from the Bible, it’s obvious that the creative world is filled with beauty, intrigue, and meaning.
What I loved about this devotional was the commitment of each contributor to find the buried truths in manga and anime. Even if the content of some of these stories could seem controversial to a Christian, there is always some light of God’s truth hidden in the narratives. I was moved by some of the observations, such as the chapters about Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. I have not seen the film, but I was impressed that so much truth could be pulled out from this 80’s Miyazaki movie. The first chapter that features it centered on the theme of how toxic anger can be. The connections to biblical truths were clear, meaningful, and hopeful.
I found myself wanting to watch or read some of the stories for myself, but even better is how affirmed I felt in being able to do it for myself. I’ve had a long journey in evaluating the importance of media in my life, and for a long time, it felt like I couldn’t trust any secular sources. It felt like, if it wasn’t for God, it was against Him (Matthew 12:30). However, this concept is referring to the heart of man. It’s not an absolute measurement for the world we live in. God is good, and makes Himself known by weaving truth in everything around us. Even though we rebel, we enjoy His goodness, and in Finding God in Anime, the task of marrying our present reality to eternal truth is made more accessible.
The book itself has some flaws. One of the most important to recognize is that it contains spoilers for some of the stories that are mentioned, and with little warning. Mostly this is avoided, and sometimes the spoilers are necessary for the author’s conclusion to be understood fully. Another thing is that there was inconsistent formatting in the way each chapter was written. This is to be expected in a book with many contributors, but I found myself wishing there was more consistency in the way bible verses, prayers, and questions were presented. I also feel certain chapters were lacking as far as the main goal of finding God in an anime, reaching a bit too far or turning an anime/manga on its head to achieve it. This was rare, though. For the most part, the themes and truths chosen by the authors were insightful and true both to God and the chosen anime.
The chapters about Sailor Moon were particularly lovely, in my opinion. While God used many of the chapters to comfort my soul and challenge me right where I was, the Sailor Moon chapters gave me so much hope. It’s one of the most popular anime worldwide, with themes of purity, sacrifice, and redemption constantly represented. These are gospel messages! As I raise my children in a world like ours, this devotional gives me hope that they’ll be able to see through a lens where they aren’t challenged by the secular world, but instead, are encouraged by God’s omnipresence!
For young otakus, new Christians, or anyone of any age or background who is curious to see how God can be found among a fairly god-free industry, I whole-heartedly recommend this book. God is everywhere, gently knocking on the hearts of those He created, and that is a major highlight in this devotional.
Thank you to the contributors and organizers for the opportunity to help launch this wonderful book!