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AKA: "The Jesus Anime" (colloquial)
Genre: Religious Tale
Length: Web release, 9 minutes
Distributor: Available as a stream on the YouTube channel "The JESUS Film Project"
Content Rating: 13+ (Graphic Imagery)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Superbook, Buddha (Manga)
Notes: This film is technically a collaborative American and Japanese product, but it is reviewed here because of its origins in a Japanese animation studio. The short was commissioned by the United State's Campus Crusade for Christ, and the screenplay was written by Barry Cook, perhaps best known as the director of Disney's Mulan.

My Last Day


An animated depiction of the last moments of Jesus Christ, and of his imparting the message of salvation on all who will follow him.


And here we have it, folks: the colloquially termed "Jesus Anime". Now anime and manga are ripe with glances and hints at religion, but very few titles approach the subject head-on (Osamu Tezuka's exquisite Buddha being a rare exception), and almost none of these decide to focus on Western religions such as Judaism or Christianity. On the outside, this short piece, available dubbed into most of the world's major languages on YouTube, appears to be a welcome exception. My Last Day, however, eschews a potentially illuminating discussion of religion in favor of what is basically a Spark-Notes plot summary of the Bible: a straightforward depiction of the crucifixion and a brief moralization on Christ's ability as a savior. It comes across as a conversion tool, sadly, going into too little depth to be of interest to devout Christians, giving too little context to make sense to the unfamiliar, and ultimately leaving almost no impression.

The most striking thing about this so called "Jesus" anime is how little of Jesus we actually get from it. Well yes, I will admit that we do see him throughout most of the movie. The camera, in fact, seems adjusted for the exact purpose of focusing on every last whiplash, every drop of blood flowing from Jesus' wounds, and anything else that might serve to remind us of the idea "Jesus suffered for your sins", no matter how unpleasant it may be to watch. In attempting to teach me an idea that I've been familiar with for a long time, it only succeeded at making me uncomfortable, and the constant, unending gore in this movie actually felt exploitative. While I'll admit that such a comment might draw fire, I don't mean to say "exploititive" in an immoral or sexual sense: rather, My Last Day shoves its ideas down our throats with force and meanwhile gives us so little substance that it resembles a propaganda piece. Indeed, Jesus himself barely speaks, and what little he says amounts to the token "forgive them, Lord, for they do not understand" and a single sermon that's over before you even know it. The viewpoint is entirely that of a thief being crucified at the same site as Jesus, whom we learn almost nothing about, and who spends most of the movie cringing in terror at the thought of the punishments that are about to come. To be honest, I'm much more interested in the teachings of Jesus, along with his undeniably admirable story, than the story of a stock coward, and I was rather annoyed that the piece focused on him and presented Jesus only as an idea to be remembered. In spite of this short's purported focus, Jesus is really just there, and that's frankly not something I can overlook.

Of what little else there is to this short, Studio 4˚C's art is as detailed as always, although the one scene that requires extensive animation completely falls apart onscreen (hinting at a low budget). The music, meanwhile, is nondescript, and the piece, on the whole, really just passes by without much effect. I don't think that anyone will learn much from having seen this, but it's short and watchable enough to make a decent 9-minute diversion. The fact that such a powerful story ends up being nothing besides that is really just a testament to My Last Day's unfortunate failure.

It's hardly terrible, but it's vacant and lifeless, and that is not a flaw I can overlook. Nicoletta Christina Browne

Recommended Audience: This has enough blood, graphic suffering, and gore to make even the least squeamish viewers look away from time to time. While there is, unsurprisingly, no nudity, sexual content, or profanity, I'd recommend preparing yourself for the bloodshed before you enter.

Version(s) Viewed: Streaming YouTube Video (Viewed in Japanese with English Subtitles)
Review Status: Full (1/1)
My Last Day © 2011 Studio 4˚C
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