With increasing average attention among young people steadily declining, a ministry continues to capture the hearts and minds of the lost in a unique language that most teenagers find difficult to resist – Japanese animation.
Adapted from the original film “JESUS” created by the JESUS Film Project, a ministry of the Student and Professional Crusade for Christ, “My Last Day” tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion through the eyes of the thief who was hanging next to him in an anime (cartoon) short film.
The movie opens with soldiers brutally whipping Jesus amid an angry crowd and approving the act while the stoned thief looks out of his cell. Passing from sorrow to repentance and finally to redemption on the cross, his own guilt causes him to perceive the innocence of Jesus.
“Remember me Jesus when you come as king,” pronounces the repentant thief who, though hung on the cross, is comforted by the promise of paradise.
Giving the public the opportunity to witness the personal transformation of the criminal when they encounter the truth of Jesus Christ, the first-person narrative makes the story even more understandable and real.
The end of the movie shows a link to a site that answers the question “Who is Jesus” and presents the evangelical message, offered in several different languages. People have the opportunity to repent and receive Christ through prayer.
“My Last Day” is part of the ministry’s latest strategy of creating and translating media to communicate the story of Jesus in the “world language center.”
“Heart language is a combination of two factors,” said Greg Gregoire, senior associate for the JESUS Film Project, to The Christian Post. “The mother tongue of people [and] the second factor is the style of communication by which people want to receive information.”
“We now have the movie JESUS in over 1,100 languages … and today many people, both literate and non-literate, prefer a story format.”
Recognizing that the short films were a more receptive medium, Gregoire commented: “When using film we can tell the story [of Jesus] and dub in other languages and accents and used by many people to recount the story.”
The classic “Jesus” movie is over 31 years old and still very effective in many contexts, the next generation – the Internet generation – and other sophisticated media audiences needed a different way to connect with history, Gregoire said.
With this new version of the original, which employs highly stylized animation techniques proved to be popular all over the world, the ministry hopes to efficiently reach the younger audience.
“It will not be the story of Jesus told in his own language,” said renowned film writer Barry Cook, who also directed the film ” Disney “Mulan” and was the visual effects supervisor of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Since anime appeals to heavy media cultures, the potential impact of using anime for a Christian movie is impressive.”
“My Last Day” is the first Christian film ever professionally produced in a Japanese-style animation. STUDIO4 ° C, a leading Japanese animation studio in Tokyo, founded by Eiko Tanaka, the animated film, lending to the graphic nature of the short.
As to whether the new film was very bloody and violent for teenagers, with scenes showing blood dripping down Jesus’ body and painfully pierced nails on his hands and feet, Gregoire explained to CP, “The reality of anime is that it’s a medium young people are attracted to anime. “
“The reality that Christ suffered in his crucifixion is terrible and can not be well told, without being bloody and graphic. Our live action films do not have to dodge this fact, and we have tried to be honest and accurate for the representation of crucifixion.”
With over 1,000 hits on the first two days of release, the response so far has been positive. As the film ministry translates into more languages, they hope to make a greater impact with this latest visual presentation of the Gospel.
“People love a story,” Gregoire concluded. “The Gospel is the greatest of stories.”
The JESUS Movie Project continues to explore opportunities for additional anime films as well as other media products that will utilize the most current technologies.
The main film, “JESUS” (1979), remains the most translated and most watched film in history, with more than 6,000 million views in 229 countries. The goal is to offer the film in all languages spoken by groups of people 50,000 or more.