How can you describe Tokyo Godfathers? A heart-warming drama? A look at a side of Tokyo that you rarely see? A feel-good Christmas movie? I honestly don’t think any of that puts it very accurately. Tokyo Godfathers, a 2003 film by the late Satoshi Kon, is akin to a Ghibli film if you took away all of the fantastic elements. Hit the jump to check out the review.
The story starts off simple: Three homeless people find an abandoned child and look for her mother. Eventually, it branches out and touches on so many side characters (who, thankfully, aren’t just one shot appearances, but I’ll get to that in a moment) and subplots. It honestly feels like this could really happen to someone, especially since a few of the later scenes (Miyuki’s flashback, for one) were inspired by news stories in Japan. I’d have to say the best part about the story is the setting. Tokyo seems like a real, bustling metropolis with a lot going on. The fact that we get to see a darker, imperfect side of that (without going to extremes) is just icing on the proverbial, hour-and-a-half long cake.
Thankfully, the characters are as well-developed as the story. Every time you think you have something figured out or have someone’s motives or back story down? There’s a good chance that you’re wrong. This goes double for the climax, which ends up throwing a good three or four character twists in the last fifteen or so minutes. Gin, Hana, and Miyuki all play off of each other in a big way, too. I may be mistaken, but I think Hana mentioned they were like a family. Nobody else really buys it, of course, but it works. Aside from being homeless and having some pretty unfortunate pasts? They’re just like a normal family. Another thing the movie does right is that, for the most part, no character shows up once and then disappears for the rest of the film. Even the old homeless man that Gin spends a bit of time with indirectly shows up in the end, and he just seemed like a throwaway character to get Gin into a certain area.
Well, that’s about all I can say. I’m no film buff, so I can’t really touch on the technical aspects and hitting up aesthetics would just be me finding more ways to alternate between ‘I can’t do it justice’ and ‘It looks really good’. All I can say is this: Even if you don’t like anime or theater-length movies or theater-length movies that so happen to be anime… Give Tokyo Godfathers a shot. Don’t worry about the (in my version’s case, anyway) ugly blurry little yellow subtitles, don’t worry about how the art on the back looks subpar, don’t worry about it being subbed or dubbed or whichever you don’t like. I watch a lot of movies, and I honestly think this is the best one I’ve ever seen. Thank you, Satoshi Kon, you magnificent directing fellow, you. And thanks to all you guys who keep reading. Take it easy, and have a good’un.