MyAnimeList Rating: 8,31/10
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Author: Peter B. Kyne
Seiyuus: Yoshiaki Umegaki, Aya Okamoto, Toru Emori
Nope, it’s not the sequel of “The Godfathers” trilogy nor anything related to mafia and a noir movie. “Tokyo Godfathers,” again, is an animated comedy film with a simple but realistic premise about life and coincidence. Like Satoshi Kon always gambles with the viewers’ minds, “Tokyo Godfathers” is not the same as “Paprika” or “Perfect Blue” which I’ve watched with various stories that cannot be predicted yet mindblowing from beginning to end. On the other hand, “Tokyo Godfathers” have predictable stories, for some important points. Simply put, this is a Christmas movie that overrides happiness or movies about a family like other Christmas movies in general. “Tokyo Godfathers” is so different from the two works that I’ve mentioned earlier but this film contains sensible humor even though taking a slightly heavy theme about homeless, transvestite, discrimination, and abandoned.
It’s Christmas Eve and three homeless friends have experienced their own Christmas miracle: while rummaging in a dump for a Christmas present, they discover a newborn baby. Despite having nothing, the three take the baby in and name her Kiyoko, meaning Pure One.
They embark in search of Kiyoko’s mother, based on the little they know about her from her meager belongings. But the night is young, and the city is vast. Before they know it, these three become entangled in a series of events including kidnapping, death, and a mysterious red envelope.
Kind transwoman Hana, runaway teenager Miyuki, and belligerent Gin make an unlikely trio as they care for the baby and try to find where she belongs. By finally looking toward the future, they are also able to confront their pasts, coming just a little bit closer to finding their own place in the world.
We follow the three major characters who have variations in their flashback and the life they lived in. Gin as a drunk middle-aged man, Hana as a transvestite who wants a baby, and Miyuki as a young woman who ran away from her home because of family dysfunction. Because the angel who fell to earth on a blessed day, the fate of these three people as homeless who suddenly found a baby abandoned in the trash. There is no other choice but to look for the baby’s parents but it’s not the points. The major point of the story can be described in one word: coincidence. Yes, like a life always meets destiny because of that coincidence, these three characters are in an experience they will never imagine where they are just homeless people who have no place to live. With a simple plot and 90-minutes of duration, I love how Satoshi Kon describes a life from the other side. While the three characters are in different situations, they also expose a lot of the past they hide so that their destiny will be met in one place that was initially separated into a homecoming. As they go through a painful truth, being in a convenience together, it feels like we feel it as well as those characters. We all know why Hana was ostracized by society just because of a transgender, we all know why Miyuki ran away from her home just because no one wanted to pay attention to her, and we all know why Gin manipulated his emotionally past but in reality, it wasn’t. In the end, they went through it together where they not just left a trail of footprints on the snow but they left a memory which had long burdened by them. It’s a unique story, a funny misadventure of with touching yet happy story and full of various meanings.
The art is so different from the trademark that Satoshi Kon always determines especially in the character design but still keeps his own inspiration. “Tokyo Godfathers” is one of the most powerful when it comes to visuals. The animation is quite memorable and feels alive. The design of characters is not too close to realism like the films or anime in general. He still maintains his symbolization of cinematography in certain parts such as for example, there is one character together with a windmill dies together. In fact, he didn’t die together with the windmill turned back. The title that Satoshi Kon put left a unique impression. A city depicts of sparkling nights, the use of lighting, the background really feels resonated, it just gave me some quick and flawless idea for this. Although not too close, “Tokyo Godfathers” is very different from the others. I don’t really remember what’s so memorable about the music itself. The soundtrack is decent with the tone and melody full of humor and happiness especially the final melody at the end is quite nice, “Ode to Joy” by Moonriders. But, the voice acting is great. It’s a shame that why they don’t use them anymore to participate in anime other than this. Yoshiaki Umegaki is great as Hana because the impression of his transvestite character is great. Besides that, it’s impressive because they show it really to their own characters like the baby crying and the sound effects which are so real in every minutes, place, and background.
The main strength held in this movie is not only focusing on these three characters. These characters complement and alternate from certain stories sometimes overlap, lie to the other one, and manipulate each other. We see the three of them sympathetically and empathetically because their qualities and lives become a homeless person. The movie quite told about the discrimination from the homeless themselves because we looked further at why they became homeless. The conflicts that arise between them are increasingly noticeable so that there is a small hope. Among the three of them, the most interesting character personally is Hana. We see his life as a transitive isolated from society who have no choice but to hide their life and place of residence as identity itself. It’s quite a satire to it if it relates to modern society. Although some have accepted their own rights, there are also some who are still secretive afraid of being ostracized from the circle itself. Satoshi Kon also made the baby as a major and the trigger of those three characters. He made this symbolization as an inseparable from a blessing messenger at a blessing night. We always see how he describes this baby as a savior of those characters who almost had an accident or the baby who was mentioned as an angel descending from the sky. In the end, they were brought together so that their experiences would not be the same from the beginning but full of charm and happiness. Just like the baby’s name, Kiyoko which means pure child, rejoice, or gift child. It brought to the ending of the movie return to the title itself, the godfather.
There is a lot of critics that judges this movie too far like too many different types of coincidences inside which they don’t really understand what really happened. They call it a deus ex machina or anything related to that. Satoshi Kon used Christmas as the main background of this film, the baby as the bearer of its blessing that determined the destiny of three main characters. It’s about God who always gives a unique path from the person itself as if God wants to tell in an indirectly way if life’s never in just one way itself but rather how God guide a man for example how a homeless person becomes one of the people who became an inspiration or the people you never thought to be better people in the future, how do you always think that the bad people who are so insane suddenly become geniuses that recognized by the world. This is a melodrama movie which is not too overpowered by the humor and sadness. Satoshi Kon doesn’t exaggerate that. The movie is never boring from the beginning or the end but sometimes, I find it intense at the end regardless of somewhat predictable at the plot.
As one of the directors who has inspiring many other directors including Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky, “Tokyo Godfathers” teaches us about life that is not too perfect is far from eternal pleasure but there are still parts that we can enjoy and take. This is kind of movie that is so real about a life with full of coincidences each time. We never know what will remain in front of the same as these three characters, end with a miracle that they never thought. This movie can be more dominated by adult viewers because it would be more difficult or irritating if the young viewers try to enjoy it even though it’s not a major problem. “Tokyo Godfathers” is a misadventure of realism full of wonders in each. It has a lot of meaning in a Christmas Eve which is so warm will be together for everyone.