“My Last Day” by Studio 4ºc

Here’s something a little different for fans of violent anime: My Last Day, a nine minute animated short commissioned by The JESUS Film Project and animated by Japan’s Studio 4ºC – the production house behind The Animatrix, Genius Party, Tekkon Kinkreet and Mind Game – depicting the crucifixion of Christ through the perspective of one of the thieves killed with him. Anime News Network says this was written by Barry Cook – the director of Disney’s Mulan and Aardman/Sony’s forthcoming Arthur Christmas. It’s a far cry from Cook’s previous shorts, Trail Mix-Up and Off His Rocker.

(Thanks, Aleks Vujovic via Twitch Film )


  • 2011 Adult

    It’s exciting when hearing an anime studio collaborating with Western filmmakers, but at the same time, this was never done frequently at all even 15 years ago. It makes me worry about the work available over in Japan too.

  • D

    That was pretty brutal. However I’ll take this over The Passion any day.

    • J.M. Urbina

      This IS like an Animated Carbon Copy of the Passion.

      well done tho

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tony Mines

    Where are all these perfunctorily staged 4oC productions coming from of a sudden? This looks for all the world like it was US boarded, then handed to 4oC for animation, who acted as intermediaries to Korea (DrMovie?) for outsourcing. It has the same dreary poses and stilted motion of that Thundercats promo. I hope this is just a sideline and not a trend.

    • http://myspace.com/edel_illus edelillus

      As a (regular) visitor to this blog and being familiar with the works of Studio 4c or the animation industry/community(assuming) you should know that there are multiple variables/reasons to cause this not to look/feel like their more familiar-house style of doing things.

      Art Directors, Character Designers, Key Framers(Borders as you mentioned)… if this were entirely in their hands(with no focus groups or having outside entities micromanaging)im sure it’d be right on par with the rest of their catalog.

      Plus(and not to take a swipe at its subject matter) the ONLY animated biblical ANYTHING I would say is great or “on-par” with 4C’s usual work is probably Prince of Egypt?(possibly Super Book, for sake of nostalgia)

      • GhaleonQ

        Does anyone know what their finances are?

  • http://www.jinhienlau.com jinnaboy

    Studio 4c, a studio that was founded by people disgrunted by the rigid system of the anime industry and for a while made some of the most visually enthralling animation in japan.

    and now they are making stiffy sunday morning cartoons for christian groups.

  • AB

    I thought the piece was interestingly told, although at times the violence was a bit… exaggerated. It kind of had a reverse effect on me, where I was tempted to smirk.

    • Gray64

      Not trying to be snarky here, but how did you feel it was exaggerated? Getting flogged and crucified is pretty bloody, gorey stuff.

      • AB

        In certain shots the blood spilling and gruesomeness was a bit too much for me, over the top. The grotesque violence worked better, personally, in The Passion of the Christ where it was actual people (I know it’s a bit of an unfair comparison, but still…).

        I don’t know… I am reacting to something that’s intrinsically “anime”… Interesting take, though. There’s no denying that.

  • Gray64

    Not particularly ground-breaking visually, but still pretty good nonetheless. I thought a lot of the small details were particularly well done. Cartainly doesn’t flinch, does it?
    Didn’t Osamu Tezuka do a series of animated biblical adaptations?

    • NC

      Yes as a matter of fact, “In the Beginning: Stories from the Bible.” I loved that series, it was the most epic bible show you would see. Unfortunately I haven’t seen it since, 1998-ish, I think. It would be great to find it somewhere on DVD but of course if probably wasn’t as good as I remembered it. I’m surprised no one’s posted it on youtube.

  • ovidiu nedelcu

    Jerry,

    thanks for posting this. i story-boarded this short film and it was a great experience working with Barry Cook. sometimes when things are shipped over it loses a bit but i feel it turned out really well regardless.
    yes the pre-production was done here in the US and animation/production overseas. post was done in the US as well. it was a pleasure working with Barry on this.

    >oVi

  • http://www.octop.com Aleks Vujovic

    Felt somewhat similar to the Gibson movie to be honest…painful to watch too. Thanks for the thanks.

  • David

    I think this was done about 5 years ago , as part of a proposed feature film , an “anime” style version of the Gospel of St. Luke. A number of artists who were formerly at Disney’s Orlando, FL animation studio worked on it under the direction of Barry Cook. For some reason the funding fell through to complete it as a full-length feature.

    • David

      To amend my first comment: I was incorrect in how I remembered it in my comment above. The sequence worked on by the former Disney artists (Project Firefly) was for a different part of the Gospel of St. Luke anime project. An animatic was posted here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeXOGX24mlI

      I don’t think this sequence was ever actually animated.

  • Some Girl

    Well, this was kinda hard to watch at some parts.What Christ had to go through. :C Didn’t expect this studio to do something like this, but I am impressed.
    Oh, and I am one of those “Christian groups” you speak so lowly about. But hey, animation is something we all love right?
    Not trying to start anything, just sayin’.

  • Adrienne M

    This was interesting, though it could have been better. The budget constraints are rather conspicuous, and a lot of the budget was spent on blood splatter. Also, I think the point of all the action and violence is lost.

    It would be exiting to see more U.S.-Japan collaborations that PLAY TO THE STRENGTHS of both styles. Alas…this is unlikely. But it could be so fantastic!

    American animation *tends* to be boring and juvenile–BUT American animation, when done with red-blooded ORGANIC warmth and subtlety in the context of a well-told adult story, would be better than the anime style–which while “cool”, lacks believability. A Bible story like this, for instance, really requires good character animation, and down-to-earth characterizations. Otherwise, the spiritual core of the story would be lost.

    Japanese animation *tends* to be soulless and cold– BUT the sheer freedom and level of visual vocabulary is more advanced and dynamic. The Japanese sensibility would inject energy and more holistic film making into the U.S. style, which lacks SOPHISTICATION. Anime is excellent at creating atmosphere and climate. A non-Japanese, non-fantasy story would help force restraint from the gaudy excesses of anime.

    Both styles in application suffer from looking too “animation-y” and both styles become derivative in their own ways. It has gotten down to the point where viewers can predict shots and actions. That’s really sad.

    We got the Americans who usually over-animate their characters (likely a symptom of boredom from animating the SAME juvenile stories over and over.)–and fetishize golden-agers, especially Milt Kahl. In that way, American animation is always looking back nostalgically, rather than addressing the weaknesses of the “golden age.”

    Then we’ve got the Japanese who usually go out of their way to not animate anything that doesn’t fetishize clothing, weapons, violence, sex, European beauty, “coolness” or “passion”, in much the same way we’ve seen in a million other anime. Despite what the otakus want to believe, Japanese animation will never be “mainstream”. It is too heavily based on specifically Japanese weirdness.

    It would be really neat to see a melding of the two animation philosophies into something that celebrates their satisfying aspects, and compensates for each other’s weaknesses. It could be a good marriage.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Certainly that’s something I want to see happen! Hopefully it will happen in our lifetime!

    • http://librabear.blogspot.com Wesley Louis

      Couldn’t have put it better myself Adrienne. I love and dislike both styles of animation for all the reasons you’ve stated. Great comment.

      • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

        “Japanese” and “American” are not two styles of animation.

      • Adrienne M

        Generalizations, for lack of better terms. Because of course, neither country has tendencies in their animation that they’re historically known for.

    • Gray64

      I think western animation fans “fetishize” the “golden age” of animation mostly because they enjoy those cartoons. Also, the animators had a freedom that they largely lack today, given that, in most of the best studios, they were largely left to their own devices. I don’t know that you can really criticise Japanese animation for being too Japanese; I’ve read interviews with Japanese animators, producers, etc, and while they appreciate their international fans they seem very much of the mindset that they are primarily producing Japanese animation for a Japanese audience. And they seem very content with that.
      Is there such a thing as distinctly American animation, any more? So much is produced by an international staff for an international audience that it seems to dilute things. Try to appeal to everyone and you end up appealing to no one at all. So perhaps the Japanese animation community has a point.
      Still, your points are well made. Every creative community develops it’s own tropes and cliches, to be used and/or overcome at need. We all have much to learn from each other.

  • http://www.tjrmusic.com TJR

    I found the crucifixion scene to be far more horrifying to watch than
    anything Mel Gibson did with the Passion. I thought this was well done.

  • TsimoneTseTse

    Thank you Jerry for posting this

    Thank You CB community for being respectful towards the subject of Spirituality.

    Regardless of the animation, I thought it was a masterful storytelling to shift the perpsective to the condemned robber. It is written Biblically that he did accept Jesus as the Christ. It also has been historically documented that Roman crucifixion was one of the worst possible forms of public execution, with some deaths lasting days.

    Always look on the brightside of ……..death? (That’s not all Folks) Peace to you

    • Gray64

      True! Crucifixion was a punishment reserved for non-Roman citizens of the Empire (and why the apostle Paul was beheaded–he WAS a Roman citizen). Few adaptations ever get the details of crucifixion right, so props to the folks at Studio 4C for doing their research.

  • Chris

    This was extremely well done, and disturbing. Considering we’re detached from the historic reality of what happened during crucifixions (like bystanders watching the news) it’s great to have it brought home more.

  • Paul W

    Hard to believe that this and Mind Game came from the same studio. The choppiness of the animation bothered me a bit. I might have preferred less detailed character models if it allowed for some more subtle movement.

    Also, the voice acting didn’t really sell it to me. The most affecting material was the crucifixion itself which was nearly wordless. The text is partly to blame but I would rather have a loose translation that makes and impact than a soullessly literal translation (great for doctrine, not so much for drama).

    It’s not bad at all. In fact, it’s quite good for what we usually get in religious animation (I’d certainly rather watch this than Superbook, Flying House, or The Greatest Adventure.). I just feel it’s not quite up to snuff with the rest of the studio’s work.

    Thanks to Adrienne M for a well-thought out post.

  • Vzk

    The irony of making a Bible-inspired anime/manga is that Japan is the country with the lowest percentage of Christians outside of the Muslim world.

  • oVi

    “The irony of making a Bible-inspired anime/manga is that Japan is the country with the lowest percentage of Christians outside of the Muslim world.”

    Vzk,
    thats exactly the point. the film was made for a japanese audience. it would be pointless to make a film and then just show it to a bunch of Christians. its fine to show it to them as well, but the film was made to spread the gospel and message to those who dont know anything about it.

    >oVi

  • Steinlo

    To me Production IG did a better job with Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1 short about O’ren. That to me was one of the best american/japanese anime collaborations. If there is more stuff like that out there then I’d sure like to know.

  • Chelsea

    Many people have commented on the disappointing animation, but surprisingly no one has commented on the fact that… everyone in this film is white.

    I know most media loves to portray the beautiful, lanky, bearded and long-curly-haired, pale-skinned Jesus… but when will someone try to make a film about the man that is a little more accurate to what he may have actually looked like?

  • http://dana-draws.blogspot.com Dana T

    The book was better.

    • Maddog

      I Love You. :D

  • oVi

    Chelsea,

    technically speaking, Jesus was the son of God. His mother was a jew. most Jews are white or fair skinned. or what we would call Caucasian.

    • TsimoneTseTse

      At least he wasn’t BLONDE like the images of Christ in the monster selling ’60′s Children’s Bible by Whitman.

      Re: “Book was better” Peace To You!

    • Tamu

      I’m not going to get into if he was Caucasian or not, Ovi, but your logic is fallacious. Most of _modern_ Jewry is Ashkenazi, which is Caucasian, but the film doesn’t take place now. In terms of geography, there is less chance he would have had Caucasoid features.

      Continuing media representations that depict the Caucasian Jesus does not make the likely image a definitive one.

  • Mark

    This was so powerful. “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Let’s remember this on this Good Friday.