Youth & Anime – Using Anime as a Teaching Tool

Anime Teaching you Things?!?

Over the weekend I started collecting information for something that I will likely be trying in the near future. Just what may that be? Using anime to teach valuable life lessons, promote discussion, and encourage the exploration of different ideas/cultures that people may not have considered otherwise. This all started when Mrs. K, a friend of mine who I help run the Youth Group with at my church, suggested we watch some anime with the kids sometime. Today I’ll be sharing my discussion with people on Reddit while asking you, what anime would you suggest to a kid to watch and why?

First, I wanted to get some feedback from people about the idea and posed a similar question that I just did for you. I turned to Reddit for that and made this post. You should definitely give it a look over because the response was incredible! So many supportive voices and suggestions for a project like this. Even those who aren’t religious or interested in that topic engaged in a serious discussion about how anime could be used to promote both religious and general lessons. There were a few jokers in the thread, but by-and-large it was an overwhelmingly positive discussion.

In my post I explain a bit about myself, my church, and what I plan to do. Initially, I thought we should start out with Your Lie in April. It is very friendly to new anime watchers and explores some themes we have been discussing at the Youth Group such as pursuing your passions, depression, and illness. While it may not be the best show for this, it is one that will resonate with our group strongly.

From there I gathered a huge list of other anime for consideration ranging from FMA:Β  Brotherhood to Silver Spoon. Some people even provided me with actual lesson plans or offered to help write one with me! Absolutely incredible.

While the community has been supportive of this, that is only part of the process. Next I’ll have to review titles and put together a schedule to watch said anime. Lesson plans will be needed with discussion guidelines. When that’s done, I have to propose this plan to a committee to get it approved.

If this does get approved, then this’ll be added to one of the more unusual church activities we have. Right up there with D&D and board game conventions. Still, I’m excited to see if this might work out.

I’ll be supervising an overnight event at the church soon and we’ll bring the idea up with the kids. They should support this, of that I’m sure. We’ll start watching Your Lie in April most likely and go from there (we can get away with a one-time deal, but if we want it to keep going we need committee approval). So wish me luck on that front!

Turning things over to you now, what kind of anime would you recommend? We have an emphasis on practical life lessons with religious discussion being a bonus. Do you have any experience using anime to teach? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas so please be sure to share!


That’s it for today, just a short article about this cool idea that I’m hoping works out. Be sure to discuss in the comments! If you enjoyed this article and would like to support the site, please consider becoming a patron of mine. For full details, just click the button below. As always, thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!

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30 thoughts on “Youth & Anime – Using Anime as a Teaching Tool

  1. I think this is a FANTASTIC idea! Just be sure to go through any anime you choose to use before-hand with a fine toothed comb as sometimes when we watch things ourselves we forget things that might be inappropriate for others! I’ve done that with my nieces way too many times! I think something is perfectly acceptable and then we get to a part where I think “oops… forgot about THAT!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great idea! πŸ™‚ Completely out of the box! Now Animes that I think that could teach a thing or two to children… Hmm that’s a hard one! XP
    Maybe Anohanna to talk about loss.
    A silent voice to talk about bullying, depression and disabilities.
    Grave of The Fireflies to talk about the war.
    Welcome to the Ballroom / Yuri on Ice to talk about hard work.
    Hope it helps πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great idea. Not only is anime super-relevant to young people, since a lot of it deals with people learning to define themselves and understand who they really are, but it’s also a great way of immersing yourself in another culture and learning to understand different societal norms and suchlike.

    Japanese media in general is a really powerful way of doing this — if you’ll pardon the gratuitous self-plug, I wrote an article about a number of games that do this really well a few years back. https://moegamer.net/2014/05/08/guidebook-to-another-culture/

    Recommendations… hmm. In no particular order:

    Ano Hana is an interesting one about dealing with grief and loss, and learning to “let go”.

    Clannad is a delightful (and tear-jerking) slice-of-life that looks at the struggles of growing up, and the people who drift in and out of your life as that happens.

    Gamers! is a good one about accepting yourself, other people and the importance of clear communication.

    Kokoro Connect is a really cool one that sort of fizzles out at the end, unfortunately, but while it lasts it’s good; it concerns “body swapping” and living life in someone else’s shoes for a period — I’m sure there’s some good messages to explore in there!

    Angel Beats might also be worth a look, although its depiction of the “afterlife” may be troublesome in a Christian context — I don’t know how strict your church is about stuff like that, so perhaps watch that one yourself first before you decide πŸ™‚

    Silver Spoon is also great, but you’ve already mentioned that; I’d definitely emphasise that as a really good one with great fodder for discussion from a number of angles.

    I wish the anime adaptation of Grisaia was good, as the original VNs’ storylines would be amazing to discuss, but unfortunately the anime version is terrible (primarily due to it being incredibly rushed), so skip that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I really appreciate it Pete πŸ™‚ Any way, I don’t mind your plug because I’ll be checking that article out for sure!

      I think all of these suggestions are excellent. You echoed a lot of what Reddit was saying, which is by no means a bad thing, so I’m loving that consistency and different viewpoints people are bringing for possible discussion about the same titles.

      As for your concern about Angle Beats, it wouldn’t be an issue and would actually make for a wonderful discussion I think. I don’t know if you saw my original Reddit post, but my church is petty open with more of an emphasis on community than liturgy.

      Again, thanks so much for your comment! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m at work, so I can’t check Reddit, unfortunately!

        Good to know your church is open-minded about such things, though — it allows for valuable opportunities to discuss and question things, and that can do a lot to reaffirm faith or help you understand complicated concepts.

        Good stuff. Hope the experiment goes well!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No worries πŸ™‚ You might want to check it out when you have the time, the post had a lot of excellent discussion in it.

          I agree and hope the experiment goes well too. I’ll put a follow up article on the website once things are in motion πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great idea. I don’t think I have seen to many animes to really give recommendations on the ones that really teach you something (most of the ones I tend to watch are action oriented or sci-fi) But that said I do have two that spring to mind.
    The first is Orange: it’s a very sad but in the end hopeful anime that deals with the heavy topic of suicide.
    The second is Erased. An anime that teaches the importance of friendship and to never really lose hope.
    Hope these help 😊 Good luck with this project!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Honestly, any Ghibli film if you want lessons in environmentalism, shinto religion, and the impact of war.

    You could also do My Hero Academia if you wanted lessons on pursuing your dreams even if they look impossible.

    There’s a new anime out now called The Place Further than the Universe where 4 girls go to Antarctica if you want another pursue your dreams story. It’s still be aired, but its really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment. A lot of Reddit folks suggested these ones. Ghibli is an easy choice. MHA was one I didn’t initially think of but would for sure be one to consider. As for the last one, I’m avoiding currently airing stuff because it makes things overly complex on my end plus if the show ever throws a curveball that could cause problems too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That would be amazing doing lesson/youth group plans with anime. I have a few ideas that could work depending on the age.

    Hikaru no Go: cultural stuff (like the Go game itself), independence, perseverance

    The Place Promised In Our Early Days: philosophy, facing problems vs. running away, relationships

    The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: historical stuff (ancient Japan), having a strong personality, being self-determined

    Haibane Renmei: relationships, mentors, self-confidence vs. self-harm, spiritual references (God is mentioned in a few episodes, but it’s not preachy), the fan theory of purgatory, etc.

    Kimba the White Lion: animal rights, dealing with grief, cycle of vengeance vs forgiveness, environmental issues, anti-racism/discrimination, originality (I’m half-joking about that one :P).

    Angelic Layer: Perseverance, finding the right friends, reconciliation

    Golden Time [2014 short film]: acceptance, finding purpose despite being “broken”, self-confidence

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sure thing. No problem, and I’m stoked that you’re actually going to use Haibane Renmei as an example. Man, that anime is so good. As soon as you mentioned some spiritual aspects given that the setting would be in a church, I thought “Dude…Jon should use Haibane Renmei since those elements are there, but it’s not preachy.”. Wonderful!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Seriously, that’s amazing. I’m glad you’re able to adjust to fit the demographics of who you’re teaching. You should also go for adult lesson plans and have an excuse to show people that anime is way more than just PokΓ©mon, Naruto, or DBZ.

            Liked by 1 person

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