Recent Viewing: Tokyo Godfathers

This week I sat down and enjoyed another Satoshi Kon title I previously haven’t seen, Tokyo Godfathers. As I find true with other Kon titles, this movie doesn’t disappoint. In an interview in the extras, Satoshi Kon said that anime is more than just cute girls. He also said, and this is probably why I love his work so much, that more artists need to come forward with their unique stories. In an interview, he was questioned about the film starring homeless characters, which seems to have no target audience for marketing.

Synopsis- On Christmas Eve, 3 homeless friends with a rather love/hate relationship discover a baby abandoned in the garbage. The cast of characters includes; Gin, a middle-aged man, Miyuki, a high school run away and Hana, a drag queen. After a brief debate, the group decides they are going to keep the baby with them for the night and take it to the police the next morning. The next morning a series of events delays their trip to the police station. Over the course of the next several days each of the characters are confronted with the reality of their situation and get a chance to make up for previous mistakes to a certain extent while learning even more about their own inner being.

Review- Tokyo Godfathers had a great amount of fans when it first came out in 2003 and to this day it deserves every ounce of the praise. The film has a very unique perspective, as we are following homeless people during the holidays. This is very much a Christmas movie, Christmas decorations through the environments and music play throughout the film. The holiday and homeless characters really set up a scenario where you are almost instantly sympathetic for the characters, and as the story progresses you hear each characters scenario of how they ended up homeless.

*POTENTIAL SPOILER* Some of the stories the characters portray as events that lead to there homelessness are fabricated. As more events unfold, it starts to strip away the defensive facade of the characters and they open themselves up as to the true reason why they are on the streets. Their humanistic flaws that took them down a path they didn’t envision for themselves.

Tokyo Godfathers is officially added to the films I am going to watch every holiday season. It fits into that Christmas miracle film class with a nice side of comedy that doesn’t feel forced, it’s actually a really nice complement.

Overall the film comes together nicely and doesn’t have anything that seems out of place that takes the rest of the film down, like bad music or CGI for instance. This film is a true example of character development. Seeing the characters evolve over the films 90 minutes is truly a work of art.

Production Quality- Tokyo Godfathers was animated by the well-known Studio Mad House. In the opening of the film we see several night time shots of Tokyo and the environments are beautiful. The characters relationships with each other result in some very well exaggerated reaction shots from characters as they argue with each other. Overall a very well balanced approach to the Christmas miracle story with some great comedy.

Since Tokyo Godfathers was an early 2000’s film it does have it’s experimental CGI. There are sequences in the last half of the film that have CGI backgrounds, but they are mostly assigned to the shots of character chases. The CGI is much better than other examples of the period.

Having praised the CGI in the film, there are layer 2D shots that really feel wide and expansive. There is one shot in particular where the camera pans down from the sky to the street level in a park, and the depth of the surrounding trees and skyscrapers is amazing.

Music- A nice holiday sound track with some really festive tracks and some also quirky tracks to fit the film during the comedic scenes.

Dub Quality- I watched the subtitled version.

Extras- There are some trailers on as well as a “Making Of” chapter that lasts just under 25 minutes, most likely a special aired on TV in Japan to get viewers to the theater. It covers interviewing the voice actors, animation production, music composition and also an interview with Satoshi Kon. I enjoy specials like these, as it gives you an in depth look as to how it was made and you can also hear from the crew and their experiences. I wish more DVDs and series had these included, but know not all have them made.

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