As all anime fans know, animation is a medium than can convey emotions and events in a powerful way. In fact, animation can capture certain imagery in a way live action can’t. And so, some stories with immense emotional impact seem to be meant for animation. Such is the case with the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is presented in anime style in the new short work, My Last Day.
Created by the people behind the JESUS film, an evangelistic movie seen by untold millions around the world, My Last Day portrays the death of Christ through the eyes of one of the thieves crucified next to Him. It was animated by former Disney animator Barry Cooke and STUDIO4°C, which also produced The Animatrix and Detroit Metal City.
First of all, unexpectedly, the film, which is only 9 minutes, looks amazing. Cooke especially does well in creating fantastic backdrops, making the city of Jerusalem come alive. The movie is violent (and comes with a warning about it), but not grotesquely so, and certainly not to the level of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
But like the former film, this one is powerful. It conveys Jesus’ pain in his torture and execution, though with only a few minutes to tell it, the piece doesn’t dwell on his suffering. Yet, the painful scenes are scary. Other powerful images fill the short piece – one that particularly sticks out is of strong winds blowing Jesus’ blood off the cross itself. Another is of Christ helping Simon of Cyrene carry His cross – an image I’ve never seen pictured before.
But most powerful of all is the thief’s story. He is rightly convicted of the crime of murder, but as his back story and harried reactions toward Christ show, he knows he did wrong. As is told in the Bible, the thief repents on the cross, moved by Jesus’ suffering. Despite being a murderer, we sympathize with the man, who owns up to his actions and sees Christ for who he is.
Unfortunately, the piece is sometimes hurried (particularly the resolution). In addition, the choices of accent for the English dub feel out of place – more appropriate for King of Kings or another Biblical epic in the times those were popular than of today, where realism is more highly valued. Also of note is the creators’ decision to avoid the thief’s apparent earlier mocking of Jesus on the cross, as told in the Bible.
Still, the piece delivers as a powerful piece of entertainment. I don’t know how it’ll work as an evangelism tool – but I can say, regardless of your stance toward Christianity, this is an accurate and compelling film that I recommend you watch.
Visit John and Melissa Immel’s site for more information on this film.