I watched this Japanese animated movie last night and really enjoyed it. I was looking for a “Christmas movie” to watch and chose this because it takes place over Christmas and New Year. It was directed by Satoshi Kon, who is probably better known for his 1997 animated psychological thriller Perfect Blue. He also made Paprika (2006), another memorable animated movie that some say Christopher Nolan “borrowed” from for Inception (2008). I recommend them both. In researching the film, I learned that Satoshi Kon died of pancreatic cancer in 2010. He was only 46 years old.
Tokyo Godfathers tells the story of three homeless people and their experiences after finding an abandoned baby during one cold winter in Tokyo. Gin (pron. with a hard “g”) is a middle-aged man who has had problems with gambling in the past. Haru is a gay man who used to work in a Tokyo nightclub. Midori is a teenage girl who left home after fighting with her father. They exist as a kind of “pseudo-family” doing their best to survive on the streets of Tokyo. They are each believable characters who made me care about their stories.
As well as the subject of homelessness, the film explores themes of family, love, forgiveness and luck. Director Satoshi Kon had this to say about the film:
“This film is an attempt to restore in a healthy way the ‘miracles and coincidences’ that have been pushed into the other world by the weapons of scientific logic.”-Satoshi kon
I really like what he was saying here, and I think that setting the film around Christmas makes it even more effective.
The animation is excellent, as to be expected coming from such a renowned name in the world of Japanese anime. With animation, you can realize scenes that would be almost impossible to achieve in live action. This format also allows the artists to deliver some funny over-exaggerated facial expressions–an ever-present part of anime.
This story pulled me in and tugged at the old heartstrings quite a few times. I was watching it thinking, ‘this feature-length cartoon is moving me emotionally,’ much more than a lot of recent productions I’ve watched. Is that bizarre, or just the sign of a really good story? I must admit that a lot of Japanese films are very good at stirring emotions. For a famously stoic people, they seem to enjoy having a good cry at the movies.
Thanks for reading!
-Wakizashi, *welcoming any suggestions for a good Christmas movie*