Tokyo Godfathers

Also Known As: TG
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Format: 1 Movie
Allegiance: Studio Madhouse
Director: Kon Satoshi
Vintage: 2003
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
From just their names, Gin, Hana, and Miyuki might sound like three members of a happy family, and in some respect, they are. It’s just that Miyuki’s a teenage runaway, Hana’s a homosexual man who desires nothing more than to be a mother, and Gin’s a lackadaisical bum whose only care is his next meal. Oh yeah, and they’re all homeless too. One Christmas Eve though, while searching for some thrown out books, the three find an unexpected gift: an abandoned baby girl. Opting not to take her directly to the police, the three decide to try and find her true parents. But how can three homeless people take care of a baby, let alone find her real parents in a city the size of Tokyo?

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Overall 9.50

Kon Satoshi is a well known director, having produced such films asPerfect Blue and Millennium Actress. Given the nature of those pictures and his previous works though, you wouldn’t expect him to actually create a comedy, let alone succeed with it. Yet, that is exactly what he has done with Tokyo Godfathers. Witty, charming, and definitely unique,Tokyo Godfathers is a hilarious journey through a part of Japanese society usually not portrayed in the media in any sort of positive light.

Artistically, Tokyo Godfathers creates an interesting juxtaposition of the bright lights and colours of Christmas against the drab faded tones associated with poverty and homelessness. Frankly, it works very nicely to create a rather realistic setting, and changes in colour augment changes in mood and tone supplied by the overall plot. The animation is also smooth, although it tends to favour over-exaggeration as opposed to strict realism. This is not necessarily a bad thing per se, and I felt that it added to the emotion of the film. The voice acting was quite stellar, and the music, particularly the remixes of “Ode to Joy,” was excellent.

Plotwise, Kon Satoshi shows that he’s lost none of his storytelling flair. The story is fluid, engaging, and not as straight forward as it would initially appear. There are a lot of plot events that can simply be attributed to divine intervention, and although they detract from the complexity of the storytelling, given the setting and importance of Christmas to the story, they aren’t out of place at all. Characterization is very strong, with the three main protagonists all possessing a surprising amount of depth. The side characters, despite their relatively brief on-screen time, aren’t ignored either. Kon’s ability to present a character is best exemplified in Mario’s wife, who exhibited a very strong personality despite speaking only one subtitled line.

Finally, Kon Satoshi’s attention to detail and cinematography is amazing (down to the smiling Fukuzawa Yukichi on the 10,000 Yen bill), and his usage of interspersed haiku poems gives the film a distinct Japanese feeling. This is a film, despite having a lot of mature elements, which can be watched by any audience. Try it; I’m sure you’ll laugh at least once (even if it’s just when the Tokyo Tower starts dancing in the ending credits).