Jan 10, 2015
tehnominator (All reviews)
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.