What if Jesus and Buddha were living on Earth in modern times? What if they shared an apartment in Japan? Saint Young Men is a humorous manga about the daily lives of Jesus and Buddha, with each chapter focusing on some element of modern life, such as Disneyland, rush hour on the train, Christmas, the public pool, carnivals, and more.
If you can get behind conceptualising Jesus as the type of guy who'd be flattered at a comparison to Johnny Depp, or Buddha as the kind of person who takes too-long showers because he's just a couple more minutes away from enlightenment, then you'll definitely get a kick out Saint Young Men.
Jesus and Buddha -- the actual beings themselves -- decide to take an extended vacation on earth, with their tourist destination being ("Exotic!") Japan. The result is this slice of life comedy that is miraculously charming and inoffensive. The movie doesn't have a clear storyline, but consists of vignettes of their vacation in a
town where the neighbourhood kids are bratty, the local yakuza can be ridiculous and where the people somehow never catch on that the two "foreigners" in their midst are REALLY foreign.
As a comedy, it does a fine job using observational humour and recurring gags as its base. Some of the best jokes come from contextualising the sacred in modern secularity, though it never actually takes critical jabs. It's not quite satire; it has absolutely no criticism or intellectual examination of the figures represented or the related religions. It's as gentle as a comedy about fictionalising deities can go, but that's not a bad thing. After all, it's hilariously sweet that Jesus, for instance, relates some his miracles as merely a form of personal convenience or plain old accident.
There's no conversation or commentary about faith in this anime, so if you're expecting this to be a hard bash toward or a reaffirmation of any kind of belief, then you're not going to get that. It does well steering clear of that, and the most political it gets is revealing that mortal bureaucracy is bad enough that even the Enlightened One himself isn't allowed to ring a bell in a shrine because he's "not staff".
While it's no laugh-a-minute affair, there are good chuckles to be had and it's a worthwhile hour and a half. It helps a lot that Jesus and Buddha have good chemistry. They make excellent room-mates and are a fine duo. Plus it's nice to see an anime using supportive, gentle comedy instead of insulting or abusive humour to get a smile out of the audience. So what it lacks in hard-hitting comedy, it makes up for with its charming lead characters, both of whom (despite their differences) are kind, accommodating, respectful and attentive to one another. Hey, wait a minute.
I'm just going to start this review with: I legitimately feel that watching this film has expanded my understanding of my own faith and I encourage others to watch it if they are looking for the same sort of spiritual experience that I had.
This anime shows a very candid look at how people of different faiths can come together and treat each other well without conflict in these turbulent modern times, and will likewise instill good morals upon the viewer regardless of their own religion. By showing how the founders of these religions themselves might act in these situations this anime sets a very good
example not only for Christians and Buddhists but also for people of other faiths who were simply interested in a funny anime.
The story is simple and fragmented but compelling and very charming- it shows the everyday life of two young men who happen to be revered religious figures as they explore Japanese culture on their vacation. The plot itself is very laid-back and will not get anybody thinking particularly hard, but it serves it's purpose of bringing up interesting ideas that will cause one to ponder their relationship with their own beliefs.
The animation is very pretty, despite the quality being no higher than any other movie. It is stylized just enough to give itself a unique look but not enough to seem complicated or alien to the viewer, invoking the welcoming yet imposing feel of a religious institution. In this way there has actually been a lot more thought and work put into the animation than one might first assume upon glancing at it.
The soundtrack I have to say, while not being disappointing in the least, was not a part I was particularly impressed with. It does well for a slice-of-life anime but fails to inspire as much interest as the rest of the film. I have to say it was really just "there" and was not really memorable, but it did very well match the mood of the scenes and I would not say it was bad at all.
The characters are ones just about everybody in the world are familiar with, and from my knowledge of religious doctrine they seem to be portrayed very well. It is a difficult task to imagine what these individuals from eras long past may have acted like in the modern age but it has been done very well here.
All in all I enjoyed this anime very much and I would highly recommend it to other people regardless of their religious and spiritual background. It teaches some important lessons about life, and even if one is not interested in such this is a very nice slice-of-life anime.
I have to say right off the bat: this is one of the few anime that made me laugh out loud. Not "type lol but actually sort of smirk a little" but actually laugh at the comedy, so loud that my neighbors probably think I'm crazy now.
Everything about this anime feels simple, but gives off this warm feeling of awesome. The art, with the two main characters drawn differently from the rest, the story with its small twists and turns through Japanese life, and the way it so casually plays with symbols of two major religions - all of this is simply bound to
make you smile.
I don't think anyone can really be offended by this; instead, I think this is a wonderful way to bring people of different faiths together and provoke deep thoughts about one's own beliefs.
I have not read the manga and I am neither Christian nor Buddhist. This was just a 'that looks interesting' watch. And I am very happy I watched it.
The story is about Jesus and Buddha while on holiday to spend some time in modern-day Japan and they're also very good friends and roommates. They're both a bit clueless in regards to various modern customs (especially in relation to religious celebrations related to them), so most of the hilarity comes from their reactions to that. It's interesting to see how they react to being somewhat sinful and indulgent or when something good happens (e.g., Buddha's head
The references to Jesus as a Jew were also intriguing and unexpected (it makes sense that he would be unaware of the purpose of Christmas, although I have to wonder what he's been doing in heaven all this time). I enjoyed the way the writers, who have clearly done a ton of research, played with the religious aspects, especially in the ways the two characters interacted based on their religious leanings (e.g., Jesus wants meat, but Buddha is a vegetarian).
The only downside I saw to their adventures, which are rather cute overall (this is definitely a feel-good film) was the way Buddha was bullied for having a dot on his forehead by some local boys. This might be a disconnect for not reading the manga, but it just did not work for me. I did not find it humorous or enjoyable, especially since the boys don't seem to learn anything from the experience beyond that they miss the people they used to bully. I DID like the ways the protags did not get back at the bullies but tried to be nice and helpful to them, which fit their characters as well. It spoke a lot about education and punishment and how to react to bullying and rising above bad people, although I still think they should have been punished somehow.
My favorite part was Jesus' interactions with the Yakuza, especially when they first meet. They were hilarious and adorable.
The animation is very good and I really did like the style. The soundtrack isn't remarkable, but the voice actors did a very good job bringing these characters to life.
Overall I liked it. It's definitely a feel-good film. If you know anything about either religion and/or like slice-of-life stories, you'll like this.