This week we are kicking off Anime April a little bit differently. To start off, Dallas has a special message for all of you weebs and otakus. A message that really is all about how much we love you.

As we kick off Anime April, I wanted to take a moment to speak directly to the anime community. I am an Anime Fan. I have been called an “Elder Otaku” simply because I’ve been into Anime since the early ’90s. I grew up with Robotech, the original Dragonball, Ronin Warriors, Fushigi Yugi, Escaflowne, and Voltron. I fell in love with the masterpiece that is Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix saga.

I understand what it’s like to be a fan of a genre that not many understand or care for. I was picked on and looked down upon for preferring to watch Anime over playing sports or watching “Reality TV.” I grew up in a time when the ability to get my hands on Anime was difficult.

For a lot of us who like Anime, we do not see these shows as just cartoons.  We see ourselves in characters and plotlines presented in these stories. For some of us, the thing that gave us a glimmer of light and hope in the darkest times was different anime series. For many of us, we didn’t have a large community of individuals to share these stories and passions with. This meant that when we found others who were into Anime, we became very excited. For once, we could talk to people who “get it.” For once, there were people who understood the references, the culture, and most importantly, understood us. We finally feel like we are part of a greater community.

At the end of the day, that’s what many of us are really looking for in life, community. Even the most introverted person is looking to have a community. Again, these stories have shaped our mindsets and gotten us through difficult times, and to have people in our lives who understand that; is freeing. For me, being in a community of individuals who “get it” brought me peace.

Where I found true peace, however, was in the church.

Some of you may be wanting to click away from this article right now, but please don’t just yet. I know some of you have tried this path before. You’ve gone and tried to be part of a church community, and they’ve let you down. They’ve looked down upon you and judged you because of your interest. They have belittled something that you care about and have helped you through some of your darkest moments. You have been judged. You have been talked about. You’ve had people ask you questions like, “why do you watch these children’s shows.” Or they have accused you of watching something inappropriate because they are under the impression that all Anime is “adult.” They don’t get it.

It’s not right, and I’m sorry for how you’ve been treated. What happened to you wasn’t right and never will be “right.” I want to encourage you, however, to try and move past that moment. Like I said, what we are all looking for is community. We are all looking for people to do life within a community. Sadly some times those communities can be toxic.

As a Christian, I found true peace in the church and my church community because of a central aspect of the Christian faith.

“for through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,”
Ephesians 2:18-19 (English Standard Version | ESV)

In the book of Ephesians, Paul is dealing with a diverse community. He was dealing with a community that had a variety of cultural backgrounds and views. He was trying to help them take their eyes off of the non-essentials and help bring things down to one central truth. In Jesus, we are all one. This is a central cornerstone of the Church, where it doesn’t matter where you come from because, in Jesus, we are all on level ground. We may see things a little differently, and we may speak a little differently, but as long as we have the foundation of the scriptures and Jesus, we are one. When we realize this and walk it out, it no longer mattes the individuals’ background because we are now walking in the community.

Now I get it; there are those in the community who have been jerks and have done and said terrible things and kept you and others out of this community. But isn’t that in every community? If you want to start a fight in an anime community, get on a table and declare to everyone that Subbed is superior to Dubbed, and if you disagree, then you’re not a true anime fan. How many people have gatekept our fandom because of one aspect or another? Yet we continue on because we have found common ground; we love Anime. There is a common link in the church, and it is the love for Jesus and the Hope He provides for all of mankind. There are dumb people, and I apologize for those people. There is hope, and you can walk this out.

To the churched who aren’t into anime

Now to those who aren’t necessarily Anime fans, but you’ve found this conversation interesting. I have a challenge for you. I want you to look at the people in your life and look at their differences. See what is different about them from you, and then go ask them about those differences. Find out why they are into a particular hobby or genre. Be genuinely curious about their lives and walk through those things with them. You’ll do a few things.

  1. You’ll encourage them because you’ve seen something special about them and now you can encourage them.
  2. You’ll grow because you’ll be humbling yourself to learn.

The Church is meant to be a place of restoration and hope. Be a tool in the hand of the Father to bring hope to individuals in your community. You can help grow the church and the Kingdom of God by simply taking an interest in the lives of others and letting them know you love them. You may disagree with them. You may not enjoy the activities and interests they have, and that’s ok.