I thought I'd do this post for those who are interested in anime or into anime but aren't sure of its place in a Christian lifestyle, or who are striving to keep their minds/hearts pure.(ONWARD!) Before I started watching anime, I had my doubts just because of stereotypes and what my friends said.
Anime is actually a medium, not a genre in itself. Saying something to characterize all anime is like saying something to characterize all American movies. There are good ones, bad ones, violent ones, romantic ones, etc. But Japanese media in general seems to me to be more tolerant of things like crossdressing(every single anime I have watched includes at least one crossdresser or crossdressing episode, I guess it's just a thing?), nudity/skimpy outfits, etc. Maybe I've just been watching too high a rating. XD
As for morals, most of the anime I've watched seem to be very, if not bankrupt, lighthearted and generic. Like cotton candy, not harmful, but not full of much thematic substance. Of course, the shojos like Fruits Basket and Ouran High School Host Club have a lot of lighthearted inspiring moments, but most anime "lessons" I've seen seem to be taken from Basic Humanity 101, such as "Don't bully others!", "Be nice to people", "People that seem mean on the outside are actually really hurting and heartbroken", etc.
I'm generalizing, some anime are more poignant than others. I'll do a short overview of the themes of the anime I've watched, along with some more specifics regarding content, and even recommended episodes to skip XD.
Fruits Basket(shojo, PG)-Sort of like a soap with an orphan and a wealthy Japanese family cursed to transform into zodiac animals when hugged. The anime is pretty fluffy and sugary..most people find it to be pretty sweet, poignant, and a time of returning to simple basic humanity and goodness(although the cheesiness was pretty piled on in some episodes, methinks). The manga is an entirely different deal--much, much more meaningful and deep than the anime(which started out the same but ended as it was getting to the deep stuff) about abuse, moving on, courage, compassion, etc. I actually found a lot inspiration in the heroine's optimism, eternal patience, and the way she finds happiness and fufillment in the controversial stereotypical "women's role", aka. cooking/cleaning/laundry. Also wins the "funniest" award.
Warnings include language, with words of minor to medium offensiveness occuring at a surprisingly high rate. Very slight yaoi(mostly as a joke). I hesitate to name any specific episodes, because the very worst of this series is typically better than the average of most of the other ones I"m going to name. They do have some awkward content in the original japanese translation(mostly in the episodes with Ayame) but the english dub does a very good job with using generality and euphemisms so the innuendos will probably fly over most people's heads. XD
Hetalia(Humor, MA, continuing) - Characterizes world history with personified characters. Sample episode summary: "Russia decides to jump out of a plane without a parachute, and England
and France comment on how he broke all his bones. Then, the audience is
introduced to the Baltics, although Latvia has a tendency to say the
wrong thing at times. After that, America injures himself when England
offers him some ice cream. "This I would skip if you're watching with other children/grownups/basically anyone other than yourself. XD It caters to a very..specific brand of humor, which I only understand about 50% of the time. As for morals, er... makes fun of stereotypes while perpetuating them? I don't know why I even watch this. As for pluses, the episodes are VERY short(5 minutes), the music is addicting, and it's funny. Also, you might learn something, but I wouldn't count on it. XD Problems are basically a lot of language(F words are censored I think) and jokes that are worse than my comfort level but not extremely bad.(Basically, as bad as your local high school, not as bad as your local comedy/reality TV channel). The episodes hover at about the same level, with specific dips in WS #38 and#39.
Ouran High School Host Club(Shojo, TV-14)-"Normal" girl at fancy private elite school, one of the most beloved anime from what I've seen. I think it's pretty good, with basic examples of how levelheadedness and common sense can prevail over rich ridiculous idiots. XD Also very funny. There is at least a little yaoi/questionable content in every episode, mostly for humor purposes. I would skip #7, #8, #9, and #19 although the other episodes aren't that much tamer, and I would preview each episode before watching with someone else. XD
Black Butler I/II(black comedy/gothic supernatural/dark fantasy, etc., ranges from TV-14 to MA)-Although very nearly my favorite one, this one churns out questionable content on a pretty regular basis. The episodes are on a complex stage with a lot of humor and lightheartedness contrasted with darkness and spiritual barrenness. Cannot decide if it should be characterized as a dark comedy or comedic tragedy. TMC, 13 year old business savvy earl Ciel is incredibly amazing, noble, and conscientious despite being despairing, lonely, and struck by tragedy. his goes deeper than the others I've seen, with complex questioning about the value of life, the value of one's soul, and revenge. Showcases humanity's desperation to survive at all costs, grasping at any spider's thread of life when life has been devastated and hope is anything but nonexistent. The manga is much better and I recommend it to anybody. The vast majority of the anime often features spiritual and supernatural content that is too troublesome to be worth it, along with disturbing imagery and violent content. Certain first season episodes I recommend are the #1(first half only), #2-6, #9, #13-15, #19-24(with a warning, skip the last scene with Queen Victoria in her castle, I did) and the OVA. These will give you a GREAT overview into this series' total awesomeness while skipping most of the nasty stuff.
I haven't watched most of the second season but I KNOW it will be much worse in terms of questionable content than the first one. Episode 1 is good, but when Alois starts to eat his breakfast, please please skip ahead about a minute XD. Episode 2 looks good but I haven't started it yet.
Death Note(Thriller/suspense/shonen, TV-14)-One of the most popular anime series of all time, and with good reason. Very good if you're not into all the complicated anime culture and just want a good plot with good suspense and characterization. Kind of a police/detective thriller featuring a brilliant teenager/serial killer and a equally brilliant(and EPIC) detective who has never lost a case. No really questionable content yet, though I'm not far along. Highly recommended.
Hopefully this helps! If you want to try an anime(DO), I would recommend starting several at once so at least one hooks you. :)