Dec 1, 2013
FullmetalCowboy (All reviews)
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: December 1, 2013. Review #72: Tokyo Godfathers.

Well, the holiday season is here once again and I have yet another review just in time before Christmas, in fact this movie takes place around Christmas. Here’s Tokyo Godfathers!

On one Christmas Eve, there were three Japanese people who are homeless. one is a middle aged man named Gin who happens to be an alcoholic. one is a high school runaway girl named Miyuki, and a transvestite who was a former drag queen named Hana. These three were searching dumpsters and trash bags for possible Christmas gifts for themselves, when cries from a baby drew their attention. Believing this was a gift from God, Hana, who couldn't have a baby of "her" own, vowed to take care of the abandoned baby girl and together they began searching for baby's mother. To be technical, this is a Studio Madhouse production...which means this movie probably has high production values. Madhouse doesn’t disappoint us with this one and this is a real surprise coming from Satoshi Kon. After watching this film, I realized that this was the only movie and work that Satoshi Kon made that has nothing to do with fantasy and reality which Satoshi Kon was known for implementing in his work. Regardless of noteworthy topics, this movie looks amazing while it is composed. This movie doesn’t have eye-popping visuals and “in your face” action. The animation, backgrounds, designs, and visuals are all well-balanced. The music is an interesting topic. The composer for Tokyo Godfathers is Keichi Suzuki who is probably best known in America for his involvement in the soundtrack for the Super Nintendo game EarthBound which is known as Mother 2 in Japan. I have not played EarthBound yet and I plan on doing so someday. But I can say that the soundtrack in Tokyo Godfathers compliments the movie pretty well. It is a bit of a mindfuck to hear a J-pop version of Ode to Joy at the very end of the movie. Come to think of it, the ending credits were a bit quirky. When voice acting is concerned, an English Dub does not exist in this movie and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Toru Emori is great as Gin, Yoshiaki Umegaki is terrific as Hana, and Aya Okomoto is also great as Miyuki. I do have a theory as to why an English Dub wasn't made. It is probably because there is one scene where a minor character is speaking Spanish and Miyuki doesn't understand it. If there was an English Dub to that scene, it would be a bit lost in translation. The casting's great though The characters are what brings the movie home. Gin may be an alcoholic but he is used for humor quite effectively, he may be pathetic but he does have his weaknesses. But at least he’s used for some nice humor. Hana is a sweet trans woman from transex… yeah, that joke wasn’t going that far. I actually liked Hana throughout the whole film. “She” had a pure heart and that’s why I think she’s a sweet trans woman. “Her” orientation was poked around on some of the humor but that’s because of Gin’s nature and alcoholism combined. But even though “she” is fictional and goes through hardships, “she” puts a new meaning to LGBT. Life’s Good But Tough. Miyuki is kind of a brat but has her reasons, her little flashback does make sense as to why she’s the way she is. She’s not really as homeless as Gin and Hana and that’s because she’s a runaway. These three characters are written pretty well with the best that Satoshi Kon could do. The only character that does not need development is the infant Kiyoko even though there is some interesting symbolism on her. In fact, Satoshi Kon added some Christian symbolism in this film and I guess that is a nice touch. The characters are written pretty well. Here’s a fascinating fact about Tokyo Godfathers, the screenplay is not only written by Satoshi Kon, he wrote the screenplay alongside Keiko Nobumoto which she was known for writing Wolf’s Rain and Cowboy Bebop. The story is simplistic but at least it has a heart. The story is also a comedy. What I really like about Tokyo Godfathers was that Satoshi Kon was trying something new since the last two things he made were about fantasy and reality. There may be a little bit of this in Tokyo Godfathers but not as heavily emphasized. I don’t know what else to say about the story of Tokyo Godfathers which I only need to question the title because there’s one male, a transgender woman, and a young girl. Maybe I’m just overlooking things or something.

Tokyo Godfathers is available by Destination Films.

With all that said, Tokyo Godfathers is a nice change of pace from Satoshi Kon. The animation is composed and looks amazing, and it has a complimentary soundtrack. What really brings the movie home is that it has some great characters in it and the story plays out pretty well for being serious and timing the humor just right when it needs to. Satoshi Kon tried something new and it worked out.

I give Tokyo Godfathers an 8.7 out of 10, it is VERY GOOD!

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