Saint Young Men
|Saint Young Men|
Cover of Saint Young Men first volume as published by Kodansha
|Genre||Comedy, Slice of life story|
|Written by||Hikaru Nakamura|
|Original run||2006 – ongoing|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Noriko Takao|
|Written by||Rika Nezu|
|Music by||Keiichi Suzuki, Ryomei Shirai|
|Released||December 3, 2012 – ongoing|
|Directed by||Noriko Takao|
|Written by||Rika Nezu|
|Music by||Keiichi Suzuki, Ryomei Shirai|
|Released||May 10, 2013|
Saint Young Men (Japanese: 聖☆おにいさん Hepburn: Seinto Oniisan?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hikaru Nakamura. Its plot involves Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha, who are living as roommates in an apartment in Tokyo. It has been serialized by Kodansha in the monthly seinen manga magazine Morning 2 since 2006, with chapters collected in eight tankōbon volumes as of August 2013[update]. A-1 Pictures adapted the manga series into two original video animations (OVAs) and an anime film which was released on May 10, 2013.
In Japan, the Saint Young Men manga has sold over 9.5 million copies as of May 2013[update]. Individual volumes of the series has been placed in lists of the best-selling manga in Japan, and have frequently on the annual best-sellers lists. It received a Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and was nominated in the Angoulême International Comics Festival. Its film adaptation has been well received by readers.
Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha, the founders of Christianity and Buddhism respectively, are living together as roommates in an apartment in Tachikawa, Tokyo, while taking a vacation on Earth. The comedy often involves jokes about Christianity, Buddhism, and the main characters' attempts to hide their identities and understand modern Japanese society. Each chapter shows their lives during an average day, and when they go sightseeing or visit amusement parks.
Jesus Christ (イエス・キリスト Iesu Kirisuto?) is portrayed as a care-free, generous, and humorous "sei-jin" (聖人=holy man or 成人=adult in Japanese). Unlike Buddha—who is very strict about the relationship between him and his disciples—Jesus is very friendly to his apostles. Buddha worries because Jesus is even nice to Judas Iscariot. The residents of Heaven are overly protective of Jesus and will sometimes try to save him if they hear his cries, even though he may be riding a roller-coaster. As a holy figure, Jesus' stigmata will bleed if he experiences any suffering. Whenever Jesus' emotions are at a high or low peak because he finds something funny or frightening, miracles may happen unexpectedly. Jesus is a devout follower of drama shows, which he reviews on his blog. He is voiced by Mirai Moriyama in the anime.
Gautama Buddha (ゴータマ・ブッダ Gōtama Budda?) is portrayed as a calm, rational, and kind "sei-jin". However, he tends to be thrifty with money. When Buddha takes life too seriously, he is often "saved" by Jesus’ care-free simplicity. Jesus' care-free nature often manifests as impulse-buying, which irritates Buddha. When Jesus' behavior makes him angry, Buddha's halo begins to shine, increasing in brightness until Jesus either calms him down or apologizes. Buddha's head also glows if he says anything especially virtuous, and he must do something to lower his virtue. After Buddha spends a night in a manga cafe, he becomes a follower of Osamu Tezuka's works including one about himself. He is voiced by Gen Hoshino in the anime.
Hikaru Nakamura started to serialize Arakawa Under the Bridge on December 3, 2004, in the first issue of Square Enix's comic book Young Gangan. It attracted the attention of a Weekly Morning's editor who wanted Nakamura to publish a series in the magazine. She accepted the offer because of her admiration for Kaiji Kawaguchi's works such as Zipang and The Silent Service that were serialized in the magazine. The series' title is derived from a song by Denki Groove and Scha Dara Parr called "Saint Ojisan" (聖☆おじさん Seinto Ojisan?, literally "Saint Old Man"). Starting from sketches of two friends wearing casual shirts, she conceived the idea of portraying Jesus and Buddha as average people. Nakamura envisioned a comedy manga in which the protagonist would be a "very very powerful character", and realized a divine character would fit this premise. She first planned Jesus to be a character in the series, but to make the gags work well, Buddha was added to the series. The idea of the characters' opposing personalities was influenced by Nakamura's sister, who is "really manic", and by her sister's husband, who is "more relaxed". By observing their relationship, she saw some amusing situations. She also saw a resemblance between her version of Buddha and Osamu Tezuka's version.
Despite the religious references in the series, Nakamura stated she used only her personal knowledge and some aspects of modern society, such as yakuza and blogging, which were not intended to be critical but were added because they fit the story. Similarly, secondary characters were only introduced in the series if a chapter needed a new character to introduce a topic. The themes of the chapters were created before the situations and jokes. However, if Nakamura had a specific theme she created several jokes then connected them to form a story. When creating "a more relaxed chapter", in which not much happens except Jesus and Buddha's banal daily lives or talks, she wrote without preparation. With the help of her four assistants, on average she took between ten days and two weeks to make a chapter.
Saint Young Men, written and illustrated by Hikaru Nakamura, had it first chapter published in the Kodansha's seinen manga magazine Morning 2 in 2006. On September 22, 2011, the series was put on hiatus because of Nakamura's pregnancy. After her child was born, she returned to the series on March 22, 2012. Its first tankōbon (collected volume) was released by Kodansha on January 23, 2008, and the ninth volume was published on August 23, 2013. A guidebook to the series was released on April 23, 2003.
The series has been localized in languages including Chinese by Tong Li Publishing, French by Kurokawa, Italian by J-Pop, and Spanish by Norma Editorial. Ed Chavez, editor of the American publisher Vertical, contacted the Japanese licensor of the series with a view to publishing in the North America. However, the licensor refused, saying he does not want it to be released in America "until the readership changes here".
The production of an anime film was first announced in issue #44 of Weekly Morning. Before its release on April 30, 2013, a guidebook was published. The film was directed by Noriko Takao and written by Rika Nezu. Its characters were designed by Naoyuki Asano and the music was composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Ryomei Shirai. The film was produced by Aniplex, Kodansha and Toho, was animated by A-1 Pictures, and distributed by Toho. It premiered in Japan on May 10, 2013. Its soundtrack was published by Aniplex on May 8, 2013. Later, on October 23, 2013, it was released in DVD and Blu-ray formats. In addition to the film, the same staff produced an OVA that was released along with the eight manga volume. A second OVA was released along with the ninth volume.
Saint Young Men received the 2009 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for Short Work Manga. The 2009 edition of Kono Manga ga Sugoi!, which surveys people in the manga and publishing industry, named it the best manga series for male readers. It was nominated for the Angoulême International Comics Festival in the category "Best Comic". As the result of its popularity, issues of Morning 2 started selling out on newsstands; because of this in May 2009 Kodansha began making the magazine available online the day it is published. As of May 2013[update], the manga has sold over 9.5 million copies. It was the tenth best-selling manga series in Japan in 2009, selling over 2.6 million copies. It was the sixteenth best of 2011, selling 2.5 million, and the eighteenth best of 2013, selling 2.4 million. All individual volumes appeared on lists of 50 best-selling manga of the year. Volumes one and two were placed forty-eighth and forty-sixth respectively in 2008, and volumes three and four were placed seventeenth and twenty-third in 2009. Volume five was ranked twentieth in 2010, volumes six and seven were ranked fourteenth and nineteenth in 2011, and volumes eight and nine were twenty-fourth and thirty-ninth in 2013.
Carlo Santos from Anime News Network praised the series' comedy, noting its simplicity and saying, "its brilliance comes not from purposely trivializing two of the world's great religions, but by highlighting the quirks of the secular world when these famous religious figures are placed in it". Santos praised the fact that unlike other manga the series does not lose its steam as it progress, and called it a "truly 'divine' comedy". He criticized it for its art and questioned its capacity to evolve into something other than "Jesus and Buddha hanging out, while normal people do embarrassing things to them". Santos complained that Jesus' and Buddha's philosophical differences and personalities are not explored.
The anime film adaptation of Saint Young Men debuted at number nine in Japanese theaters, grossing ¥49,930,836 (US$491,369) on 75 screens. In its second weekend it grossed ¥34,903,192 (US$346,743) and ranked eleventh at the box office. It was placed twelfth at the box office during its third weekend, when it earned ¥27,497,830 (US$274,758). The film closed its run having grossed $1,888,062. Its DVD release ranked seventh on its first week on the list of best-selling anime DVDs in Japan, dropping to twenty-ninth place on its second week on the list.
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