Identity is something pretty much everyone is or has struggled with. It’s practically biology. We as human beings want to define ourselves so we can be unique, different from everyone else, while we also want a group, a set of people who think similarly or have the same worldview as us. These things seam to contradict, how can they both exist in such strong degrees simultaneously?
First, what is the definition of identity?
There were a couple when I looked online, but this was my favorite:
Identity – condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing
Identity is made up of our character, qualities, beliefs, and distinguishing qualities. But more specifically, we can use things to identify ourselves, such as worldly possessions, people, ideas, polities, or religion.
Now here’s the kicker – how does anime contribute to the way we see ourselves, because we all know it does.
Anime, is a weapon that can be used for good… or for bad. It’s a double-edged sword. Particular shows have been there for me when I had no friend at all, so I have strange emotional connections to some shows. But on a deeper level, anime has helped me changed my way of thinking. Since it comes from another culture, I’m shown how to think in different terms about relationships, roles, duty, and responsibility. Characters in amine view each other in such intricate ways, modeling for me that there are more then a couple ways I can understand my relationship with people.
While Anime sharpens the way I see the world, it becomes a big part of my identity. First, anime is very entertaining to me, I enjoy watching it. It makes me feel unique because the popular people I know defiantly don’t watch it. Also, anime is an exercise for me. Since I want to go into entertainment, anime is my inspiration. Maybe, someday I can bring a show that is somewhere near as amazing as some of the awesomeness anime has booked out.
What is important, is that I can envision myself without anime. No matter how big of a part it is in my life, so I still understand who I am without it? Is a show telling me who I am, or am I letting the show inspire me to be who I want to be? In other words, is anime where I get my confidence from?
Confidence is being aware of who you are, and being confident because of it. This is something a school counselor told the whole school at a chapel once. It really hit me. How much confidence a person has influences their identity very much so. I don’t want to let anime consume me, and become me. But I do believe there is a wonderful place where anime shows us how to have confidence.
If we watch our favorite shows, and see how the hero’s win the day, we can shrug and smile. It’s not real, it can’t be applied to my life – but I can dive into their world and make it my life!
That’s not the point.
I’m going to take the best anime I can think of that is least hated by the masses. Rurouni Kenshin is the famous pacifist samurai. Especially in the story arc, Trust and Betrayal, I take a lot of what is said and done and apply it to my life.
Specifically, when I watch Tomoe’s sacrifice at the end of Trust and Betrayal, I can have a better understanding of what Jesus’s death for me meant. I feel like I am Kenshin, the manslayer, man with regrets and a tainted soul. Then Tomoe, who has only been used and manipulated by the evil of others gives up herself to protect the guilty man all because she loved him.
In this respect, I’m letting anime influence the way I define myself as I understand my faith. When I think of Tomoe’s death, I’m sad, but also happy because I know that something very similar has actually happened to me, even if I wanted there exactly. Above, I said that religion can determine our identity. My faith is a big part of how I understand who I am, it’s my everything. Anime, a worldy creation, is defiantly not Christian. As A Christian, I am part of a big group of brothers and sisters all around the world. And we do fight, over a lot of things. More then we should.
Anime, is a smaller community of people who have the ability to feel on a different level. I like these people, because I’m very emotional, pretty much all the time. But the Christian anime community… so small, so special. If you want to be apart of it, man, hit me up in the comments! Let’s have a party!
The Christian anime community finds truth that we can be confident in. Our greatest confidence is in the Lord, and just as Tomoe reminds me of Jesus, so other anime can indirectly point back to God.