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Manga / Saint Young Men

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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.

The manga series is created by Hikaru Nakamura (Arakawa Under the Bridge) and has been published by Kodansha's seinen magazine Morning 2 since 2006. Since it's a series where Jesus and Buddha are the main protagonists, and some topics are also brought by other religious characters (but handled with respect, as it's considered an Affectionate Parody), it may be very difficult to be licensed in some countries. However, some European countries (such as France and Spain) have released it, under the subtitle of The Vacation of Jesus and Buddha.

The series has been adapted in anime form as an OVA and an anime film that was released in May 2013 (both are produced by A-1 Pictures). Musician Gen Hoshino and actor Mirai Moriyama take the roles of Buddha and Jesus, respectively.

A Live-Action Adaptation movie was announced in late December 2016, with the involvement of actor Takayuki Yamada as producer and Yuuichi Fukuda as director and scriptwriter.

Tropes that appear in this series:

  • Affectionate Parody: A lot of 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.
  • Berserk Button: In the chapter about the Kaiju rally stamp, the duo's landlady's grandson thinks Fenrir, Hel and Jormungardr suck, which Loki does not take offense to. When the boy mocks Sleipnir, Loki goes into a tirade and talks back at the boy.
  • 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jesus and Buddha watch a recording made by Buddha's horse, Kanthaka, of a meeting of the "Sacred Horses Club". The Duo react with admiration at their majesty and beauty, and Jesus even supposes the animals talk about a fresh spring, until the equines begin to trash talk each other, to the roommates' horror.
  • 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: Zigzagged, as some brands are specifically referenced as they are in the real world while others are altered in the process. For example, earlier in the series Jesus is clearly using a Sony VAIO laptop, and the product name is not altered. Come chapter 45, and the laptop is now seen as "VAIC" instead of "VAIO". The laptop's OS is also Windows 99... until it's pointed out that there is no Windows 99 at all. It's the laptop's tsukumogami, "99".
  • 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.
  • Buffy Speak: When trying to bribe Loki with "three treasures" so he can convince his children to participate in a Kaiju stamp rally, Jesus and Buddha bring him three toys: a gelatinous toy they call "thingy", a whatsit, and a whippy guy. It works.
  • Catchphrase: "Exotic Japan!"
  • Christmas Episode: Chapter 9 is about how Buddha can throw a "surprise" birthday party for Jesus on Christmas. It's more easier than he would think as Jesus is too excited about Santa Claus to remember about it... although Buddha is afraid that Jesus' excitement may summon the real St. Nicholas. The original drawings of the chapter are in the British Museum.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Apparently, all the Christian celestial beings are this to a degree. Jesus is an Occidental Otaku, the Archangels are mostly Manic Pixie Dream Genderless Beings, and God usually manifests as 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, as many people confuse him with Depp.
  • Cosplay: A running fascination for Jesus. He originally bought a Shinsengumi outfit as pajamas and tries to use them to go to the autumn festival, and he has also conidered cosplaying Jack Sparrow a few times, thanks to the resemblance to Sparrow's actor.
  • Crossover: A nonsensical Christmas Crossover between Jesus and Buddha, other characters from Hikaru Nakamura's manga (Hoshi and The Mayor from Arakawa Under the Bridge, and the Black Santa from Black Night Parade) and ONE's characters (One-Punch Man's Saitama and Genos, and Mob Psycho 100's Mob and Reigen). Hilarity Ensues as they all mess up with the intentions of Black Santa... and forget about Jesus' birthday.
  • Crossover Cosmology: The manga naturally primarly compares everything to Christianity and Buddhism, which are treated as neighbouring regions in the afterlife. Being set in Japan, Shinto traditions are also explained, Jesus brings up Judaism, and Loki occasionally helps the two. At one point the duo meet a Cupid, who is a servat of Zeus and is offended by the comparison with Cherubs.
  • Cultural Translation: The French edition pulls this off remarkably well, with even some localised Funny Background Events.
    • 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 gave birth to this brilliant and sadly untranslatable meme.
  • Darker and Edgier: Buddha goes to buy a new "Nintendu DS" game named "Mongrel and Me: Unleashed Hostility", a sequel to "Puppy and Me". The cover has an evil-looking wolf and some blood drops, and the advert states the game "Puppy and Me" is back "harder than ever".
  • The Dentist Episode: One chapter deals with Jesus going to dentist and His worries about the dentist's apparatuses being turned into modern sacred relics.
  • Eaglelander: A bunch of Type-2 tourists run into the pair and take pictures.
  • Exact Words: Jesus tells a Yakuza that he was "crucified by the authorities" and got out "by the will of [his] Father." The Yakuza take this to mean that he was imprisoned but was released because his father is a powerful boss. Jesus was of course talking about literal crucifixion, the authorities in question were the Romans, and his Father is quite literally the most powerful boss of them all.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Eve, from "Adam and...", is revealed to be one: after she ate the Forbidden Fruit apple, she and Adam were expelled from Eden, and had to forage to survive. Among her "meals" were the legs of the snake that tempted her (which explains why the snake is legless evermore), urchins and sea squirts.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: In some panels, Heaven is depicted as this.
  • Forgot Their Own Birthday: Jesus is so caught up in Christmas spirit that he forgets that it's also his birthday.
  • Friend to All Living Things: A lot of humor is based on how animals (and sometimes, even plants) 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 daydreaming about having a cat claw at him.
    • 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.
    • When Buddha's stomach growls near a peach tree, the tree bears fruits immediately, even though it had been barren previously. It's so miraculous a wheelchair-bound old man stands up. Buddha is seen in the background, asking the tree not to worry about him so much.
  • Fun T-Shirt: Buddha loves to make personalized t-shirts with "funny" words and phrases in 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. These gods want to have some vacations in Earth as a way to experience a modern human life.
  • Green Thumb:
    • One of His accidental miracles is to have roses bloom on the crown of thorns.
    • In another chapter, Jesus is preparing coffee, and places a single grain on a pot, then waters it. A coffee plant sprouts, whose beans He uses to then make some coffee.
  • Heal It with Blood: As in the Bible, Jesus's blood has healing properties.
  • 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 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.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In the chapter about the setsubun (the rite to shoo away the Onis for their bad luck), some Onis complain that humans are unkind to their people, since humans drive the onis/ogres out in the February cold only in their loincloths.
  • 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 volume, 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.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe. 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.
  • One-Winged Angel: While recording a Sentai in Heaven, an angel gives Jesus a "Seraphim Mode" as a Power-Up. He and Buddha comment He looks like a boss from an RPG in that getup.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In the chapter about the Kaiju rally stamp, Loki's children manage to put on makeshift and spur-of-the-moment diguises to help Jesus and Buddha. Jormungardr, for instance, cuts out arms and scales out of cardboard to pass itself as Godzilla.
  • 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.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In one chapter, Loki explains his Avengers film version, Thor's brother, is not according to the Nordic myths, wherein he is Odin's (Thor's father) blood brother.
  • Sapient Steed: In one chapter, Loki shows Jesus and Buddha a recording of his son Sleipnir talking to other mythological horses: Kanthaka, Jesus's donkey foal who carried Him into Jerusalem and Gullfaxi. Sleipnir also follows Greek horses Pegasus and Xanthus (one of Achilles's horses) on social media.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The author at least knows about Bible stories and uses them for humor.
    • Judas was punished in the lowest pit of Hell, being used as a chew toy by Satan, which is exactly his fate in The Divine Comedy.
  • Small Reference Pools: In the first five or so chapters of the series, there are far more direct references to events that supposedly occurred in the life of Buddha than those equivalent for Jesus. This starts changing later on, as Hikaru Nakamura later admitted that she was very unfamiliar with Christianity and started with Buddhism at first; seeing the success of her manga, more research was conducted to balance both.
  • 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 Jesus and Buddha's holiness is that animals are willing to sacrifice themselves to serve as food for the two whenever they're hungry. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Jesus is so afraid of water that the reason that he walks on water is because he doesn't have to swim. How does this explain his baptism? St. John had to baptize him that way since Jesus couldn't be submerged... while the dove's appearance was just God reassuring that His Son was okay.
  • Theremin: A single line character summary in chapter 2 simple states, "Jesus: he's curious about theremins."
  • The Trickster: At one time, Loki tries to sell Jesus some questionable IKEA products.
  • 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.
  • Wunza Plot: One's achieved perfect enlightenment! One's the Son of God! They fight crime hang out!
  • Yakuza: Jesus makes friends with one in a sauna, Ryuji, 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, Ryuji believes that Jesus he is the second generation head of his group... he is not so far off the mark, though. When they see Ryuji's massive tattoo on his back, Jesus innocently assumes he is one of Buddha's fans, but Buddha, who is generally far more familiar with Japanese tropes, is appropriately terrified.