Buddha e Gesù in vacanza a Tokyo. Seinto Oniisan come parodia religiosa nel Giappone contemporaneo
Seinto Oniisan (Saint Young Men in English) is a manga series written and illustrated by Nakamura Hikaru. The episodes, serialised by Kodansha since September 2006, tell the adventures of Buddha and Jesus, who, after surviving the end of the millennium, take a vacation together and rent an apartment in Tachikawa, a suburban area of Tokyo.
This gag manga (gyagu manga) shares similarities with other texts focused on religious personalities and topics, in particular on the life of Buddha, including the well-known manga Buddha by Tezuka Osamu. However, Seinto Oniisan does not aim at teaching about Buddhism, as in the case of educational manga published by Buddhist organizations. At the same time, Seinto Oniisan does not reiterate dichotomous representations of religion as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ as shown in several manga published after the 1995 sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway. By placing the two religious figures in a contemporary urban context and portraying them as two tourists (or exchange students) discovering Japan, Nakamura avoids representing religion as something ‘dangerous’. At the same time, parody and humor desacralise their authorities by transforming them into light and ‘harmless’ entertainment for her readers.