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Genre: Drama Adventure
Length: Approximately 90 minutes
Story by: Satoshi Kon
I am really beginning to like Satoshi Kon’s stuff. This is the third work I’ve seen by him and I’m once again impressed. Unlike his psychological thriller Perfect Blue and mystery series Paranoia Agent, Tokyo Godfathers does not have characters suffering from a psychological disorder, or going through an extremely horrific situation leaving the audience with a boxful of questions and wanting to tie their brains up in a knot. *ahem*. Tokyo Godfathers is a bit lighter on the mystery allowing viewers to look into the lives and hearts of three unusual, but likeable characters.
It is Christmas evening in Tokyo and three homeless friends—Gin (a grumpy alcoholic), Hana (a transvestite), and Miyuki (a teenage runaway)—are trying to survive the holiday season on the street. While searching through a dump of garbage they discover a most unique Christmas gift lying under bags of trash. It’s an abandoned newborn baby girl. The three friends set off on a journey around the great city to find the young girl’s parents, but along the way they will encounter bizarre people and situations that link to their individual pasts. The characters’ most unusual luck will have them come face to face to the challenges they once ran away from which resulted to their lives on the street.
The overall idea of three people searching for an abandoned child’s parents is kind of dull. However seeing three of the most unique people do this is what makes this anime so great. The characters are the driving force of Tokyo Godfathers. I personally like the way that three homeless friends are the focus of the story. They are unusual people. And it is these three little people that can show a little “humanity” in a very busy world. The many challenges the characters face may seem kind of strange, but how each situation ties into their pasts and gives the audience a look into their hearts is what makes this movie different from—let us say—Three Men and a Baby or The Three Godfathers (Ha! Beat THAT John Wayne!).
Through all of the craziness that happens throughout the plot—after all of the adventure, action, and mystery—the story ties itself up spectacularly at the end. It’s typical of Satoshi Kon’s work. The movie has its moments of amusement and its occasional tear jerker. It’s an overall touching movie that certainly has a wacky “Christmas spirit” feel to it. It’s a shame I’m watching this now in May.
The music in Tokyo Godfathers is almost unnoticeable. Many scenes’ music is very soft or played during important moments where the viewer will be too distracted to hear it. If a scene does not have background music, the viewer will instead hear mostly background noise (such as a crowd of people, car traffic, or just plain city life). Music only appears on emotional or quick-paced scenes. I really like the way the music fits. It feels natural. For the most part, the music is kind of comical-jazzyish sounding except for some familiar Christmas songs that are used for background music, such as Silent Night. Music isn’t big in the movie, but it’s very fitting when it appears.
If you’ve read my Noir review, you’ll probably notice that I have a thing for background animation. And wow, does Tokyo Godfathers’ look good. The art includes live footage of Tokyo city, CG environments and effects, and a blend of detailed hand drawn animation. It’s beautiful. It’s rare to find an animation to do the three-in-one so well. The characters and tone of Tokyo Godfathers perfectly fit every scene. The character designs are also well done. They are drawn to stick out from the rest of society as “homeless bums.” They’re misfits and they look good that way!
Tokyo Godfathers is not exactly a “family” film. It does have harsh language, violence, and other themes that some people may find…inappropriate. The movie is rated PG-13. I hope anyone watching will have a fairly open mind. I would highly recommend watching this movie. It’s an excellent movie that will make you laugh and cry. Keep this movie in mind for future Christmas gift ideas for both fans of anime and those who are not. It’s definitely worth it.
Overall Grade: A
+ Bizarre and unique characters
+ Beautiful animation
+ Can appeal to even those not familiar to anime
+ Storyline that remains interesting all the way through
By Bounty Huntress