What if I had never gotten into anime?

Have you ever wondered where you’d have gone if you hadn’t become an anime fan?

I’ve always wondered if I hadn’t gotten into anime, what would’ve happened to me?

If you had met me back then, you would’ve met a very different person.

The year was 1995, when I graduated high school, the best year of my teenage days. I went to the prom with a pretty good looking gal, hung out with friends in a limo, ate at an expensive French restaurant (aren’t they all), and then went on a nice retreat the next day.

I was a high school senior: a veteran of the war of adolescence, battling shyness, struggling with my feelings for the opposite sex, avoiding  bullies, shutting myself off some times, and dying to be a club maniac at other times. You know, the usual stuff that almost all adults go through in their younger days.

I remember right after graduation, after we tossed our hats in the air, and I was on my way home with my parents, on our way to a Chinese restaurant for celebration. I knew exactly what I wanted to listen to on our way; I inserted the cassette tape (wow, did these even exist) of Top Gun’s soundtrack; I had already fast-forwarded it to the Top Gun Anthem. I felt like I was going to soar into the sky.

Somewhere in the sky, my dream, whatever it was, was waiting for me. I was flying somewhere, or so I believed.

I was not outgoing, but I was not reclusive. I knew how to be, for a lack of better word, ippanjin (can be translated as normal crowd, perhaps). I was pretty positive about life because I had became a Christian one year earlier, and I had gone to Life ’95, a huge Christian party, in Orlando, Florida. Filled with positivity, I knew how to tell a good story—my favorite was the one about how my prom looked disastrous but worked out well in the end, and I attributed its success to God’s blessings.

I simply believed then.

Fast-forward (3x the normal speed), and here I am, in 2012. I’m rather cynical about life, less hopeful, have weak faith, don’t know how to act like an ippanjin, am an otaku, and watch anime as my primary means of entertainment.

I’ve gone through years of alcohol addiction; I wasted my college years drowning in booze, porn, and a lot of 90’s anime. I was once wealthy, but now technically in the category of being poor (but far from it in reality). I’m no longer simply trusting.

All this time, two things have always accompanied me, and they have almost never been at odds with each other, oddly enough. These things are anime and God.

I’ve always wondered why God allows me to watch anime, and he doesn’t tell me to get off of it. After all, anime has very little or nothing to do with Christianity, or at least I still believe that today. People would probably tell me Eva this, Alucard that, Trigun this, or whatever.

Once again, oddly enough, I’ve learned a lot of Christian lessons through different moments in different anime. Some of these anime were funny, but most were serious (without taking themselves too seriously, thank God), and almost none of them said a direct word about God, Jesus, or Christianity. Actually, most of them had nothing to do with religion. They were simply great works of animation. Great stories.

I’ve always wondered about that. Why is it that there are Christian anime watchers, and even Christian otakus (is that an oxymoron?). Recently, I even met a woman (no, we’re not dating, just working on a project together) who shares a very similar background in that she grew up in Taiwan, went to the US to study for college and graduate school, and watches anime as entertainment.

I wonder if it will take a lifetime to discover why.

Or is the question “why” even relevant at this point in my life, with our (Mike, Jeremy, me, Linda, MLM, Dan, and a group of awesome folks) site, Anime Diet, being a major indie press in the US and our Facebook page having close to 8,700 likes.

I am wondering exactly this: if I were to meet the me that just graduated from high school, toe to toe, in the middle of Rockville, Maryland, what would I say to him?

I take all that in with another gulp of beer, and I’ll leave you with that and bid you good night

or good day.

6 thoughts on “What if I had never gotten into anime?”

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    I’m not sure why you’d think there wouldn’t be — as a Christian, while obviously there are a large number of shows that I’d avoid with objectionable content, there’s certainly a large number as well that don’t, and offer enjoyable stories and experiences that one wouldn’t necessarily get from normal television or movies.

    Being a Christian doesn’t and shouldn’t preclude one from having ‘normal’ hobbies, as long as they’re not violating biblical standards. I certainly have heard a lot of good sermons on grace to that point.

  2. It’s great that anime is as important as God in your life. 1995! Seems that year has a very special significance for both you and Mike. And also for anime, when Eva came out. To me, it was earthquake and that cult terrorism featured in Pingdrum. Probably since that time, I became a pessimist of 3D. Right, Eva seems like Christian to me, but after all, it’s just symbolism they’re using, not Christian per se.

    I never experienced prom, I wish I was in American high school. Dancing with a beautiful girl, how riajuu! That’s so much American, hu? Every time I see prom in the films, I can’t relate to it very well. Is that close to Oklahoma Mixer of Japanese school sports festival? (体育祭)

    I’ve been abstinence on alcohol since this February, and recently I had a sip of beer, and oh boy, I got severe headache. I use to drink beer every night after work, but realized how much I wasted money on that, so now, especially this economy, I’ve totally replaced intoxication with moe anime. So, I’m a dum-ass, DUM (driving under moe). Moeddiction.

    I think facebook has been great thanks to your hardwork, sir General! Yes, we’re expanding in an amazing rate!

  3. If there’s anything I’ve learned as a believer over the years, it’s that God can use anything to make us better people. Anything. Even “bad” stuff. The theological term for this is sovereignty. Nothing in this world is so bad that God doesn’t have the power to redeem it.

    I said my own piece/testimony about how my faith relates to anime as a guest blogger at Christian anime blogger Charles’s site Beneath the Tangles.

    Great post, Ray!

  4. Sup. Yeah, those are some deep, self-examining words there. I am a Christian as well… and I have been into anime since I was in kindergarten. Mazinger and Gatchman (Battle of the Planets) among the first to catch my attention. Something about anime appealed to me ever since I can remember. I didn’t really have any friends that were ever as into it as I was… I was pretty much a loner in my fandom, and sought it out on my own. I never really thought of the conflict w/ Christianity until much later in life… but entertainment in general is much of the same thing. Even though it may feel like a contradiction at times, especially when demons and such are the “good guys”, it’s still just entertainment.Fantasy is to be enjoyed… how serious you take it is up to you…

  5. I really felt a strong sense of connection to you, reading your piece. I was never an alcoholic, but certainly I spent much more time in my early years of college at parties than in a sanctuary. I was hedonistic without realizing it, and that time coincided with the beginnings of my anime fandom. I specifically remember watching Trigun, going to a party with friends, and then going to church the next day; it was a very strange time.

    I was blessed to have people in my life who loved God, and by extension, helped lead me down paths I consider right. More importantly, my mom has been praying fervently for me for decades now, and I attribute her prayer to keeping me from going completely off the deep end. Still, I often struggle with sin, OFTEN. Sometimes, the Christian life feels like a painful fight.

    If you ever wanna chat, feel free to shoot me an email (beneath.the.tangles AT gmail.com). I’m also now following you on Twitter.

    Thanks for sharing this post!

  6. Most of the otakus that I know are atheist and good thing that you’re different from them. I’m curious on who introduced you to anime or you’ve just liked it by accident. You didn’t mention it in your article but it’s a good read!

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