Saint Young Men
is a Slice of Life
manga about two guys sharing an apartment. They face more or less ordinary problems like not having enough money, facing Japan's packed public transport and so on.
The Catch? The two guys are Jesus and Buddha, currently on vacation in Japan.
It's a manga series created by Hikaru Nakamura (THAT Hikaru Nakamura of Arakawa Under the Bridge
's fame) that started to be published by Kodansha's seinen magazine Morning 2 since 2007, and has been recopilated in 9 volumes as of September 2013. Given it is a series about Jesus and Buddha, and some religious topics are also touched along the series(that are taken care with such respect, being not offensive at all) its licensing would be problematic in certain countries, but it has been available in others such as France or Spain under the subtitle of The Vacation of Jesus and Buddha
There has been an OVA enhanced in a limited edition of volume 8 and an anime film that was released in May 2013 (and both are produced by A-1 Pictures
). Musician Gen Hoshino and actor Mirai Moriyama take the roles of Buddha and Jesus, respectively.
Tropes that appear in this series:
- Affectionate Parody: A lot things about Buddhism and Christianity are Played for Laughs, but never in a mean spirited way. The manga author is very careful to always keep the tone lighthearted and respectful.
- All-Loving Hero: Jesus, while a bit of a spacey goofball, is a gentle and loving soul who always thinks the best of everyone and joyfully celebrates every new experience.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Played with. As part of Buddha's Straight Man act, he can get really scary at times, which normally results in him starting to radiate light, akin to Scary Shiny Glasses.
- Bishōnen: The archangels, especially Michael. Jesus perhaps also qualifies.
- Black Comedy: Rare, but it does show up occasionally.
- When the two are undergoing extreme poverty, Jesus asks Buddha to sell him - "Apparently, you can get at least thirty silver coins."
- At another point during which the two are going hungry, they are approached by several cats. One tearfully presents itself on a platter, while another cat offers them a box of matches.
- Bland-Name Product: Averted, Jesus is using a Sony VAIO Laptop, the product name is not altered.
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Jesus and Buddha are forced to ad-lib a manzai act as "Long-Hair and Punch" to win a standup comedy contest.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Jesus, probably to balance out Buddha's Straight Man role. It works.
- Catch Phrase: "Exotic Japan!"
- Christmas Episode: Chapter 9. The big question is "How do you throw a surprise birthday party for Jesus on Christmas?" Buddha doesn't know either.
- Easier than you'd think, though, considering Jesus is too excited about Santa Claus to remember.
- And much to Buddha's dismay, he's actually afraid Jesus' excitement will summon the real St. Nicholas.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Apparently, all the Christian celestial beings are this to a degree. Jesus is an Adorkable Occidental Otaku, the Archangels are mostly Manic Pixie Dream Genderless Beings, and God is, well, a dove whose first line on the manga was "PERISH!!". Conversely, the Buddhist beings seem to be more centered, save for Brahma and Mara.
- Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Jesus looks a lot like Johnny Depp. This is even referenced in-universe.
- Cosplay: Jesus and his Shinsengumi outfit, originally bought as pajamas and even tried to use them to go to the autumn festival.
- This seems to be a running fascination for Jesus. He also considers cosplaying Jack Sparrow a few times, thanks to the resemblance.
- Cultural Translation: The French edition pulls this off remarkably well, with even some localised Background Bonus.
- The title itself, which literally means "Jesus and Buddha's Vacation"
- Jesus, holding a bowl of broth for a sick Buddha says, completely deadpan, "Ceci est mon Knorr". "Ceci est mon corps" means "This is my body", a reference to the Last Supper (or alternately, the Eucharist), while Knorr... is a popular brand of soup.
- When Jesus is showing his drama blog to Buddha, one of the comments to his absurdly fast "God Answer" starts to read "Bonjour à tous, je sais pas en faite, si je dois m'acheter la PSP, j'hésite trop x) Certains vont me dire : MER IL ET FOU." This is a Shout-Out to this forum thread from 2009 about a young man wondering whether he should buy the PSP, which birthed no less than ''three'' brilliant and sadly untranslatable memes.
- Deadly Euphemism: "Going home". Played for laughs.
- Eaglelander: A bunch of Type-2 tourists run into the pair and take pictures.
- Fluffy Cloud Heaven: In some panels, Heaven is depicted as this.
- Friend to All Living Things: A lot of humor is had in how animals are willing to help Jesus and Buddha. One of Buddha's ambitions is to one day find a way of being hated by animals, to the point of of daydreaming about having a cat claw at him.
- Up to Eleven: Even cats, the selfish animals par excellence offer themselves as food (even willing to be cooked alive!) when Jesus mentions that Buddha and himself do not have enough to eat.
- Fun T-Shirt: Buddha makes them. He actually has a bit of a bet going with himself: he slips his T-shirts into Jesus's drawer without him noticing, then has a competition between them to see which ones Jesus wears the most.
- God in Human Form: Well, duh.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The portrayal of Buddha and Jesus is funny but not really disrespectful to Buddhism or Christianity. Trying to avoid any type of Flame War here. That being said, Buddha and Jesus seem to spend a lot of time together, and Jesus' blushing face never helps.
- Hijacked by Jesus: Literally. Jesus likes to participate in a Buddhist traditions with Buddha tagging along. He even prays to Buddha, who is right next to him. Hilarity Ensues.
- Historical In-Joke: All of the flashbacks to Jesus's and Buddha's lives are these.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: The premise behind the story in the first place, as they're taking a break from their heavenly duties.
- In-Joke: Buddha draws a manga about a "rib dance", which everyone in heaven finds hilarious. Jesus tells Buddha not to publish it though, because nobody outside of heaven would understand what a rib dance was or why it was funny.
- Innocent Bigot: Jesus and Buddha's landlady. She's immensely suspicious of them because they both seem foreign. In the first book, it's revealed that to avoid drawing suspicion, they asked Saint Mark to rent the flat for them, since "Maruko" (Mark) could pass as a (female) Japanese name. Make of that what you will.
- Jesus Taboo: Averted.
- Like an Old Married Couple - Yep. They fit the traditional japanese roles - Jesus is the husband (carefree, a big spender, and henpecked) and Buddha the wife (serious, smart, money-grubbing, and controlling)
- Jesus Was Way Cool: Jesus is a lovable goofball to balance out Buddha's Straight Man role. It's hilarious and adorkable.
- Looks Like Jesus: Inverted, people think Jesus looks like Johnny Depp.
- Love Freak: Both, of course, but special mention goes to Jesus, who breaks in Tender Tears a bit too often.
- Mundane Made Awesome: In the OVA, the kids who keep snapping rubber bands at Buddha's forehead create a rubber band sniper rifle.
- Occidental Otaku: Jesus is a bit of a Japanophile.
- Odd Couple: Most people would think so.
- Old Shame: One of Buddha's concerns with modern society is that all the statues of him seem to be based on the less svelte periods in his life.
- Pals with Jesus: Buddha is Pals With Jesus, and conversely, Jesus is Pals With Buddha.
- Phobia: Jesus has several, the particularly strong one being of salesmen, which he says was the real reason for his famous outrage at the money changers in the temple. He also cannot stand putting his head under water, and (somewhat understandably) cannot stand touching nails for fear one will go through his hand. Buddha is comparatively stable, but admits that he can only buy expensive mushrooms which say where they came from due to the specific circumstances of his death.
- The Pollyanna: Jesus, of course. He's been through many hardships, but he's a free spirit, full of love. Agape! Agape!
- Power Incontinence: Accidentally causing miracles in public is a daily concern. It's hard to stay undercover when your divinity is showing.
- Satire: When you have two major religious figures living with each other and commenting on the democratic, capitalist Japanese society of today, you get a whole lot of this.
- Buddha comments on how nobody in Japan really knows what Christmas is about. Turns out neither does Jesus, as he describes Christmas as the time when Santa Claus roams the world giving gifts, and not his own birthday. It could be a veiled reference to the fact that Jesus was NOT actually born on December 25th - the actual date is unknown, but Orthodox churches following the Julian calendar (which was current when Jesus was born) celebrate it on January 7th.
- Jesus actually knows Christmas is his birthday - but he simply forgets about it. He doesn't know people are celebrating his birthday, though.
- Small Reference Pools: In the first five chapters at least, there are far more direct references to events that supposedly occurred in the life of Buddha than equivalent ones for Jesus. One gets the impression that the author either did not research the Gospels properly, or she decided not to confuse her audience with material that would likely be unfamiliar to them.
- There's more Jesus focus later on, especially with the Christmas chapter. Overall, the Buddhist and Christian references seem about equal on average.
- Word of God says that the author didn't actually know much about Christianity and started with Buddhism for that reason. Later on, seeing the manga's success, more research was conducted to balance the two.
- Shown Their Work: The author at least knows about Bible stories and uses them for humor.
- Straight Man: Buddha, most of the time. He's also somewhat of an Only Sane Man since Jesus is portrayed as a bit wacky.
- Suicide as Comedy: A side-effect of their holiness is that animals are willing to sacrifice themselves to serve as food for the two whenever they're hungry. Hilarity Ensues.
- Wait...if they're both holy, immortal beings, why do they need food?
- The guess is because their souls are immortal, but they reincarnated as full grown-ups to spend their vacation in Japan. Just roll with it.
- Buddha at least doesn't really need food - he can do with only air for a long time. Jesus enjoys food, and would rather NOT turn stones into bread and water into wine - it gets tedious after a while, especially since the only bread he can make is rye.
- When Buddha gets sick, he mentions that "Human bodies are weak". They're basically avatars, so they have human (well, almost-human) needs.
- Super Drowning Skills: Jesus is so afraid of water that the reason that he walk on water was so he didn't have to swim. And the whole being Baptized by St. John? John had to baptize him that way since Jesus couldn't be submerged and the dove was God making sure that Jesus was okay.
- Theremin: A single line character summary in chapter 2 simple states, "Jesus: he's curious about theremins."
- Troll: Mara. In Buddhism, he attempted to seduce Buddha while he meditated under the Bodhi tree. In Saint Young Men, he constantly spams Buddha with phone messages, which Buddha won't read as they are obviously just abuse (with subjects making fun of his weight or the weird name he gave his son). Jesus opens one out of curiosity and finds it's a shot of Mara posing in front of an unflattering Mii of Buddha he made.
- Videogame Cruelty Potential: What Buddha plans on doing with "Together With Your Puppy."
- Yakuza: Jesus makes friends with one in a sauna, who thinks that Jesus is a yakuza as well after hearing about his run-ins with the law. After relating the story of being sentenced to death but getting out of it after three days because it was His Father's will, the yakuza believes he is the second generation head of his group. Not so far off the mark, really.
- Jesus, seeing the massive tattoo of Buddha on the yakuza's back, innocenly assumes him to be one of his fans. Buddha, who is generally far more familiar with Japanese tropes, is appropriately terrified.
- Wunza Plot: One's achieved perfect enlightenment! One's the Son of God! They
fight crime hang out!