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Jul
14

Anime PSA

By

bradYou’ve probably figured out by reading my other articles that I have boys.  And I, myself, am a dude.

But,

I think this article will apply to dudes that are dads of both genders of offspring.  Because Anime is popular and rising in popularity AND it’s prevalent in your everyday life.  I was in the Barnes and Nobelyesterday and there were two aisles dedicated to Manga.  Two aisles!  You might not even know what Manga is, and that’s ok.  This article with contain some basics about Anime, and some application on how it might affect your son or daughter.

I think we probably should start with some of the vocabulary involved with Anime just so everyone can be on the proverbial “same page.”

Anime:  Short for ‘animation’ (actually based on the Japanese pronunciation of the American word ‘animation.’)– It’s animated stories, usually from Japan.  They are not “cartoons” (Anime fans would scoff at that term), the content is usually along the line of stuff you would view on Cartoon Network in the U.S.; probably leaning more toward “Adult Swim” in content (adult themes are prevalent).  ‘Cool’ kids watch the Anime in Japanese with subtitles.  Not-so-cool kids watch versions dubbed into English

Manga:  Japanese comic books.  You read them backwards.

Otaku:  People that really love Anime.

Cosplay:  Dressing up in a costume of a character from TV, Anime, or Movies.  Literally means “Costume Play”

Hentai:  Japanese animated pornography — usually involving really bizarre stuff, like alien squids raping school girls.  This, is a good example of why we Dads need to have a good knowledge-base of this stuff.

After I defined Hentai you are probably ready to steer clear of all Anime.  You could do that.  But Anime is pretty prevalent in our culture and it’s hard to totally avoid; plus, it’s entertaining.  Like most media, there is a good and bad.  Our job as Christians is to:

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

You can’t avoid the world, but you can accept that Anime exists and promote the ‘good’ parts. Speaking of good and bad, here are some of the positives and negatives of Anime:

Bad

  • There is a lot of sensuality.  In Japan, they have a much higher tolerance for sensual entertainment.  So, it’s nothing to see very kid-friendly Anime’s featuring hunky guys and girls scantily dressed.
  • Boobs:  This goes along with the sensuality.  99.9% of adult females in Anime are depicted with breasts that are anatomically impossible in size.

Note:  You put these first two ‘bads’ together and you can get a focus on sex and unrealistic body image.  Which, is something dads need to be aware on several levels.

  • One Level:  Distorted body image for your son or daughter is not good
  • Another Level:  Kids that your kids may date with a distorted body image.  This, unfortunately is especially true if you are raising sons.
  • Still another Level:  Peer pressure to dress like anime characters even if you don’t have the right body image.

This last level probably could use its own article.  The only problem is that I can’t fully explain this phenomenon.  I frequently go to Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions.  Many people Cosplay and some of the most popular costumes are Anime characters.  Some people pull off some great accurate depictions of characters . . . and some . . . especially girls . . . have a hard time fitting a ‘normal’ body type into leotards, miniskirts, and neoprene bikinis.  Every convention will have crowds of ladies exposing copious amounts of flesh when they . . . I’m going to say it, are corpulent.

I don’t understand it, but I am almost certain there is a peer pressure to do this behavior.  It’s something we Dad’s need to be aware of for both boys and girls, because we want to teach our kids to view people as “people” and not as “objects.”  And, as a caveat, I’m FINE with people cosplaying and even the exposure of flesh (within appropriate reason).

Ok, back to the other bads:

  • There is no standard of MPAA rating on Anime’s.  It’s hard to tell what Anime’s are appropriate and which ones aren’t.   One of the more popular Anime/Manga’s is Musume no Iru Nichijō— hard to tell by that title if it’s appropriate for your kid.  My son Walker (he’s an Otaku) and I have characterized this Anime as “Monster Porn” because of the content.  Yikes!

There are a few websites that give user/viewer breakdowns on content.   Here are two I have viewed:

the animé café

Christian Anime

  • Cursing:  I don’t know Japanese, but many times the subtitled translation involves bad words.  My Otaku son and I have figured out that some of them are added by the translation to English.   For instance, a character will grunt in exasperation, but the subtitle will read “dammit!”

Neutral issues . . .

  • Themes:  Asian drama has a lot of tragedy.  Many Anime’s involve death and loss.  Also, saving the environment is a big deal to Japanese culture.  Some Anime’s will even go so far to depict humans as a blight on the earth.

Goods

  • Japanese culture has a high focus on honor.  I believe this is a good thing because our society definitely needs it.  Plus, it is a great springboard for discussion with your kids about how Christ took our shame and honored us (though we are dishonorable ‘sinners’) through his sacrifice on the cross.
  • Heroes:  That’s always a good theme.  Women are frequently the heroine in Anime, so there is a lot of gender equality.
  • Self-Discipline:  Martial Arts and internal control are built into the Oriental culture, and Animes are built around these themes.
  • Unique themes:  You can do things in animation that you can’t do in a movie or sitcom.  Because of this, there are some Animes that are really thoughtful and creative.
  • Not American:  Getting experience with any different culture is good.  Some of the things in Anime seem pretty weird, but it’s a great subject to talk about with your kids.  (Maybe even bring up the Apostle Paul and how he had to share Christ with people that worshipped strange idols.)

 

I’m not the only one that is noticing that there are some pretty big things in the “bad” category and not a lot of moral powerhouse in the “good.”  Honestly though, this is characteristic of most media.  For all the hours of adult-themed crime dramas and sitcoms, there are only a few nature documentaries.  For all the popular movies in our culture, there are only a few that achieve a balance of virtue and entertainment.  It’s our job as dads to guide our kids to the few good choices.

My suggestion for dads is the same as with any media — watch it with your kids and talk about it with them.  If you are involved, then your kids won’t be watching hours of Monster Porn or wearing neoprene bikinis to their Weight Watcher’s group.

If you are a Dad that wants to venture into the turbulent waters of Anime, here are just a few of my suggestions for appropriate ones to try.

Hayao Miyazaki– I think most popular movies and shows by this talented director are in the ‘safe’ zone (some with a ‘PG’ rating) and they are really well done and creative.  Disney actually produces most of the popular movies by this director.  My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away are some of the best.

Pokémon — hard core Anime fans argue whether Pokémon is a real Anime.  But it’s usually clean and has a moral.  The only downside is that you can’t watch too many consecutive episodes before wanting to punch yourself in the face at Team Rocket’s lunacy.

Avatar the Last Airbender & Legend of Korra — another one that die-hard fans will argue about being a ‘true’ Anime.  They are US based and very well done.  The down side for dads is that they contain a lot of themes involving Eastern mysticism spirituality — a great thing to talk to your kids about before they have it shoved down their throats at school.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works:  Might have a few bad words and violence, but it’s quality and has some great themes to discuss with your teen.

One Punch Man – I’m including this one because it’s a pretty popular one currently.  Mostly pretty clean except for copious amounts of violence and the main character wearing a sweatshirt that has the Japanese word for “boobs” emblazoned on the front.

Naruto:  A few of the popular “mainstream” Animes are appropriate for family viewing.  Naruto is one, Dragonball Z is another.  Mainstream Animes are frowned upon by Anime fans, but they’ve all watched them.  I’m still working on viewing some of these popular classics.

I could list on and on, but I bet you have recommendations that will put mine to shame.  If you have a thought regarding Anime or a suggestion for Dads to overcome media evil with good, then please share in the comments.

The picture today is of my necklace for one of my personal favorite Animes, Fairy Tail.  Just to give you an idea of the underground popularity of Anime, I frequently have people notice and comment on it when I wear it in public.

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