The holiday season is finally here, and with the holidays always come the festivities. Shopping, spending time with family, decorating the Christmas tree, cuddling with loved ones alongside the soft embers of the fireplace: these are all the ideals of a perfect Christmas. After all, there's nothing more to love about Christmas than the gifts or the food, right? Well, maybe if you're a middle-aged salaryman. To our three protagonists, they'd just be happy if they could find a leftover bottle of booze in Tokyo's garbage dumps.
Little did they know that they were setting themselves up for a wild goose chase to find not only the mother of an abandoned baby, but also to rediscover the homes they thought they had abandoned for good.
Tokyo Godfathers tackles the age-old message of the irreplaceable bonds that family members have with each other, no matter how withered they may seem be. It certainly isn't the first film to express this theme, but by no means does this mean that you should ignore this amazing piece. The journey of our runaway, transvestite, and alcoholic protagonists progresses excellently without any scenes that seem drawn out or boring. Each development occurs with great timing that kept me engaged with the story at every single passing moment.
However, it is with these exact developments that a flaw of Tokyo Godfathers becomes glaringly apparent. To put it bluntly: the protagonists rely on an astounding amount of convenient "coincidences" during their adventure through Tokyo. There is enough to the point where I wonder if the writers put them in for pure comedic effect, and if this is true, then it sure did work on me. However, these coincidences are not necessarily a mishap on the writers' end. The conveniences are part of the underlying theme of God looking equally favorably upon every single person, whether a high-ranking official or a bum living in the slums of Tokyo. After all the misfortune or mistakes in each protagonist's life, these coincidences are supposed to show them actually getting a lucky break for once in their lives. Yet, some of these coincidences stretched the truth just a bit too far, taking away the sense of reality in an otherwise real-world setting.
An unexpected area that stood out the most was the witty humor. This movie is simply excellent in its delivery and timing; I found myself ranging from chuckles to bursts of laughter for a great majority of the film. The comedy never felt forced at all and fit perfectly as small detours along our protagonists' journey. After all, how boring would an adventure be if it were just a straight, smooth road without a little spice?
Besides the one gripe I had with its plot, Tokyo Godfather shines brilliantly in every other area. There is a great amount of attention to detail in every single background, which allowed me to immerse myself into every passing moment of our heroes' expedition. Each character has a wide variety of facial expressions that had me cracking up from their reactions alone.
The soundtrack streamed in expertly with every critical point of the story, especially in the movie's dramatic moments. The music works as transitions from the film's comedic scenes to the climatic scenes and vice versa, sometimes even breaking the mood to get in another nice chuckle from the viewer.
Each protagonist has his or her own background that led to his or her current state as a homeless city bum, and each of these issues are superbly fleshed out and developed alongside the central quest of the story. None of their previous circumstances came as info-dumps; they were integrated very naturally into their adventure, allowing the viewer to learn more about each protagonist while they themselves learn more about the truth behind the baby in their arms. Their interactions feel genuinely realistic with humor mixed in that doesn't come off as forced but rather as part of each person's characterization. As stated before, humor is a huge factor in this movie, not only for pure enjoyment but also for introducing each character.
Tokyo Godfathers is the perfect film for those starved for more Christmas-themed anime. If you're like me, you'll grab a couple friends and family and share plenty of laughs under this lovely holiday season.