Tokyo Godfathers Review
Well, Hello there, I am back to review more anime movies, because in my country ‘Inside Out’ is releasing a week after the actual release date, so I decided why not review an Anime movie from one of my recent favorite directors Satoshi Kon. Now, let me get this out of the way, Satoshi Kon was a genius, he was such a great filmmaker, I can only mourn the loss of such a great artist, so I decided that in his honor I will review all of his films, in the order that I saw them, starting with Tokyo Godfathers.
Tokyo Godfathers was the third feature film directed and co-written by Satoshi Kon, was animated by Studio Madhouse and co-written by Keiko Nobumoto that was released in the year of 2003. The story follows a trio of homeless people Gin, a middle aged alcoholic, Mayuki, a teenage runaway and finally Hana, a trans-woman who was a former drag queen. Set in the time of Christmas Eve, the trio accidentally find themselves an abandoned infant girl and make it their mission to find the girl’s parents and give their child back to them.
What’s surprising to me about this film is how dark the atmosphere of Tokyo is made in this film, and yet somehow it never feels unpleasant, or uncomfortable or even hopeless. The film actually contains some mature content such as gang beat ups, suicidal mothers, crazy runaways, hell; there is even a segment where an assassination takes place. Despite all these happenings, you may be surprised with what I am about to tell you, this movie is actually a comedy. Not in a way that it makes fun of the aforementioned situations, but rather how our main trio reacts to the situations that they are put in. This is where the genius of Satoshi Kon comes in. He can make a film with dark subject matter and still turn it into a balls out comedy without ever insulting the subject matter that is being portrayed, all of which he achieves within a short length of 90 minutes.
The characters are what make this film work. They all have their troubled pasts, and the movie takes its time to show you how they ended up where they are, and even shows you their vulnerable side without ever becoming a sob fest but by doing so with subtlety and never making it too in your face, they give you just enough to care and just enough to make them likeable. Gin, a character whose sarcastic remarks and cynicism of the society make up for a lot of the comedic situations in the film, Miyuki, a runaway who has a troubled past with her family, but also adds a lot of humanity, what she brings to the table is that she has her own temper to deal with at times, and it can be quite funny when she enters into an argument with one of the trio. But, saving the best for the last, is my favorite of the three, Hana, the trans-woman, who is so emotionally unstable at times, it’s hilarious, but is also the heart of the film, as we get to know more about his ideals and his reasons for helping others, he becomes a character that you sympathize with and relate to the most, he never complains about his situation even once in the entire movie, but rather wants to help others to help himself, and when you see that particular side of his character, he truly is unforgettable.
The animation is spectacular, as expected from Studio Madhouse. With much detail and emphasis given to many of the of the character designs as well as the city of Tokyo, the coloring is something I also loved, with much of the color palate used to make Tokyo look more dull and less colorful, something that really fit the movie’s tone despite the fact that it is a comedy. This also is probably the best animation any of Satoshi Kon’s films have to offer, although his final film Paprika will still take the top.
The film has a huge emphasis on the spirit of Christmas, making it a great Christmas movie that also emphasis on coincidences, something that occurs a lot in this movie, all the more reason to consider it a movie celebrating the spirit of Christmas. So, yeah not only is this a great movie, but easily one of the best Christmas films I have ever seen.
With all that said, I do have one issue with this movie and that is with its rather abrupt ending, not to spoil anything but, I do wish that it gave a more apt conclusion to our characters, not that the ending makes it feel incomplete or anything, as all of our character story arc do reach conclusion, it just felt a little too sudden and should have given a more well-rounded conclusion to the entire story, also the film doesn’t have an existing dub for it yet, but the sub version with Japanese audio will do, because the voice actors have done a phenomenol job (and I generally prefer dubs!) . Having said that, this movie is truly a masterpiece in Kon’s work, it’s something he’s never quite done before and I only can wish that he was still around to make more movies, but with what we, as audiences were been able to receive from this man, was still great, and Tokyo Godfathers was no exception. It is a timeless classic in my opinion and should be checked out by those who are fans of film or animation.
I am going to give Tokyo Godfathers an ‘A’
Final Rating: A
You can expect a late review of ‘Inside Out’ soon….cannot wait