Animé shares 'JESUS' with new generation

By Diane Robbins on Apr 29, 2011

My Last Day -JESUS Film
"My Last Day" is a new 9-minute animated film about Christ's crucifixion, created by a renowned Tokyo animation studio. Photo courtesy The JESUS Film Project

We live in a media-driven society where youth, more than any age group, are a visual culture. One of the forms of media that has captured this generation is Japanese animation.

Referred to as animé, Japanese animation has permeated the pop culture of many Western nations. Japan exports billions of dollars of merchandise in the form of manga (comics, graphic novels) and animé (animation), video games, card games and more. Video stores have entire sections dedicated to animé.  A groundbreaking new film aims to reach this group using the unique visual language of animé.

My Last Day is the first professionally produced movie about Christ using animé. Seven years in the making, this 9-minute movie frames the story of salvation through animé to capture the attention of a new generation. Adopted from the original JESUS film created by the JESUS Film Project®, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, My Last Day portrays the story of Jesus’ crucifixion through the eyes of the thief who hung next to him.

Animated by Tokyo’s renowned STUDIO4°C, My Last Day unfolds through the eyes of one of the criminals experiencing the same brutal crucifixion as Jesus. The criminal’s guilt causes him to realize more fully Christ’s holiness. My Last Day is a short film of regret, repentance and redemption that frames the story of salvation in a new and refreshing way, with dialogue taken directly from the original JESUS film.

Barry Cook, director of Disney’s Mulan and visual effects supervisor for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, wrote the story for My Last Day. Since animé appeals to media-heavy cultures, Cook explains, the potential impact of using animé is staggering.

“I believe the type of animation we desire to achieve with this project will appeal strongly to a young generation, a postmodern generation," he said. "It won’t be their grandparents’ JESUS film. It won’t even be their parents’ The Passion of the Christ. It will be the story of Jesus told in their language.”

JESUS Film Harvest Partners has collaborated with Campus Crusade for Christ since 1997 to help share God’s love with the lost using the JESUS film. JESUS, completed in 1979, remains the most translated and viewed movie in history. As of April 2011, JESUS Film Harvest Partners teams have reported 58,476,329 evangelistic contacts since they began in January 1998. (Evangelistic contacts are individual persons who have viewed the JESUS film, or another companion film, such as The Story of Jesus for Children, or Magdalena: Released from Shame.)

Of these contacts, 10,440,302 have indicated decisions for Christ. On average, one person becomes a new believer in Christ every 48 seconds through these efforts.