To some people, religion is a sensitive topic, and here, we have a film that revolves around two iconic figures of religion: Jesus and Buddha. Heavy on Christian and Buddhist references, yet still maintaining respect for both of the religions, Saint☆Young Men is one of the most unique and charming movie I’ve ever come across.
The story is about how Jesus and Buddha decides to take a vacation in Japan while trying to stay incognito by living like ordinary humans, which in their case is a difficult job with their godly powers of miracles and enlightenment that would automatically activate depending on the situation.
It’s unique and refreshing to see figures that are so well known and worshipped around the world living in a small apartment and trying to make it to the grocery store in time for the sale events. I’m quite familiar with Christianity since I am Christian myself, so I was able to understand all of the references for the jokes relating to Jesus, which lead me to appreciate them more than if I didn’t have the background knowledge, which was the case with the Buddhism references. I didn’t find those jokes as hilarious compared to the ones about Jesus, but don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed every bit of it and the movie as a whole; my familiarity with Christianity just enhanced the whole experience. So, to those who are very knowledgeable with both of the religion, I think this movie will be even more enjoyable.
The whole idea of humanizing these godly figures maybe controversial to some, but personally, I don’t think it is offensive at all. It really depends on how you look at it. This movie should not be approached with condescending eyes, but rather, it should just be taken at face value—entertainment. I highly doubt this movie was trying to convert anyone or disrespect the religions. If we’re really looking for some deep implications from this movie, it would be the notion that being empathetic and understanding to one another transcends any religion, culture, and race. Even though Jesus and Buddha have completely different ideologies, they try to understand each other, like how Buddha can’t eat meat and so Jesus will be considerate of that, and those compromises and understanding allows them to have a wonderful bromance. This compassion is not just confined between the two of them; it is also shown through the people that they encounter everyday.
Visually, I found the movie beautiful. Moreover, it had a peaceful ambience about it. The character designs are a bit cartoonish; however, it seemed appropriate for the movie and it complement the characters and the background too. I honestly don’t think the movie would have the same impact or hilarity if Jesus and Buddha were drawn typical anime style with big, coloured eyes and detailed hair (although, Jesus still has beautiful hair anyways). The simplistic drawing style is befitting for this movie.
I really enjoyed watching the OVA and the movie. The OVA focuses more on the perspective of Jesus and Buddha’s landlady, and a general introduction of the characters. The movie, then, is specifically centered on the antics of our two main figures. I suggest watching the OVA first to have the full experience. All in all, I definitely recommend this to anyone. I’m really glad I was able to come across this movie. I’m hoping they make a series out of it!