Tokyo Godfathers Review


Plot: Three homeless people – a drunk/gambler washed up father, a crossdresser and a teenage runaway – find a baby amidst some trash. With only a few clues as to who her parents are, the three set out on a mission to find the baby’s family to decide whether they should return her or contact the police.

Breakdown: Welcome to the AVAHS finale! And what better way to close out the holiday season than with anime?

Technically, this isn’t much of a Christmas movie. While the entire movie plays out over the Christmas season with the movie spanning what seems like Christmas to New Years, there isn’t much connection to Christmas outside of decorations, a few songs and the implication that Kiyoko, the baby, has it in with God.

That being said, this is still a Christmas movie, and a damn good one beyond that. This is another of Satoshi Kon’s babies….no pun intended, and it has his style all over it.

While not being gut-bustingly funny, the movie does have several laugh-out-loud moments, and the characters, both major and minor, are very memorable with interesting and well-written stories. Only Gin, the washed up father, might have a slightly cliché backstory.

The story has a very straightforward path – get baby to parents – but this is one of those movies that seems more about the journey than the destination. The various hurdles that they have to jump to find Kiyoko’s parents are both realistic and hit all the right notes.

For instance, there’s a scene where Gin gets jumped by a bunch of teenage asshats who just want to beat the crap out of a homeless person (and a dead old homeless person as well) for no reason other than entertainment.

This is scene is really difficult to watch, especially since they steal something very important to him, resulting in him getting beaten even worse in an attempt to get it back. Just when you think he might die, they top off the scene with a great joke to lighten the mood. The joke doesn’t seem out of place or even out of character for the sake of a joke, and that type of sudden contrast can only be pulled off with real finesse.

While the characters are all very funny in their own right, they each have fairly sad stories that really make you feel for each of them. All of the emotions here, over the top for comedy effect or not, are all very genuine.

The story, while seeming very straightforward, had several twists and turns that I honestly didn’t see coming, especially the twist with Kiyoko’s mother.

If I had any qualms with it, the story seems a little too convenient at times. They just happen to stumble upon people from their past, the exact clue to where they need to go etc. a lot during this movie, and it’s only towards the end where you really start to notice, but still. This can be explained away by possibly whatever connection Kiyoko may or may not have to God, but *shrug* According to the Wiki page, these coincidences are done on purpose to showcase the little connections that we may have even with strangers to strongly link us together. Still, it can seem a bit wonky sometimes.

Also, I would’ve liked more exploration on Miyuki’s, the runaway, story. Her dad may or may not have done something to her pet cat that made her stab him in the stomach. He later says he has the cat and it’s fine, so I don’t know what happened there.

The art and animation are fantastic, yet another Madhouse production, and the city feels so well done and gorgeously detailed that you really feel like you’re there.

The music is also great with Christmas music, some classical selections and a somewhat jazzy BG set melded together.

The voice acting, Japanese, really shines here. Everyone is just fantastic in their roles, especially Hana’s VA, Yoshiaki Umegaki.

Bottom Line: This may not be putting the spotlight entirely on Christmas, but it is still a feel-good Christmas movie with great characters, a fantastic story, plenty of action, drama and comedy, and it’s just a great experience overall. I can see myself watching this at least a few more times in the near future.

And that, sadly, closes out A Very Animated Holiday Special. Here’s to next year!

Additional Information and Notes: Tokyo Godfathers was written and directed by Satoshi Kon and it was produced by Madhouse.

Runtime: 1 Hour, 37 minutes.

Year: 2003

Recommended Audience: Some rather crass homophobic slurs get tossed around, and there’s some other swearing. There are also a couple of suicide attempts, and one guy gets shot up. In terms of nudity, there are a couple boob shots but both of them are for the sake of breastfeeding. 13+

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