As a concept, I think Saint Oniisan is one of the best anime comedies, especially when looking at it from my perspective as a westerner. The fact that one of the main characters is literally Jesus works to make the idea of the show not sound “too anime”. To me, that and the “odd couple” premise made Saint Oniisan seem not too different from American TV comedies. I don’t mind anime comedies myself, but Saint Oniisan may be the kind of show that could be enjoyed by people who don’t watch anime (like my brother, for instance).
That’s just as a concept, though. In practice, I didn’t find Saint Oniisan to be too fantastic. In fact, I started by trying to watch the 2 OVA episodes, but I couldn’t even make it through one of them. Years later, I watched and managed to finish the 90-minute movie version, and it was not a boredom-free experience. The side story with the kids trying to poke Buddha was, in my opinion, particularly yawn-worthy, but the jokes in general were pretty hit-or-miss. I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I expected too much out of it, but both versions of Saint Oniisan disappointed me on some level.
In the end, however, I thought the movie was decent. Some of the Buddhism-related stuff went over my head, understandably, but I really liked the jokes pertaining to Christianity. More importantly, though, I thought the jokes were mostly tasteful and in good spirit. And unfortunately that’s not as common as I’d like it to be, because there are lots of comedies out there (both anime and live-action) that rely on demeaning jokes. That said, Saint Oniisan is not 100% family-friendly, so it’s not like I could show it to anyone. However, because I assume everyone who reads my blog is at least somewhat familiar with anime jokes of the not-entirely-pure kind, I think I can safely recommend this movie here. Depending on what you like, it could be an outrageously funny 90 minutes.