Sep 30, 2012
kajia (All reviews)
"Tokyo Godfathers" is a Christmas film. Tradition dictates that these films should contain elements such as light hearted comedy and family oriented themes. And that exactly the kind of film "Tokyo Godfathers" strives to be.

Does it succeed? Most certainly. But the crux is that "Tokyo Godfathers" is the work of Satoshi Kon, a man famous for his dark, twisted mind fucks such as "Paranoia Agent" and "Perfect Blue". He's probably the person you would least expect to make a conventional Christmas film.

For the most part, "Tokyo Godfathers" doesn't feel like a Satoshi Kon film - it doesn't even have the mixing fantasy with reality trick that Kon was so fond of. The film is simply a heart warming tale about three homeless people searching for the parents of a baby who they found abandoned on Christmas eve. The anime doesn't suffer for the lack of convoluted story telling though. Despite not having the usual brain-warping elements that mark out Kon's other works so distinctly, "Tokyo Godfathers" is still an engaging watch, capable of drawing out a variety of emotions from the viewer. Whether it's going for the comical, the depressing, or the tear jerker moments, this film admirably hits all the right notes.

Armed with the most simplistic of plots, "Tokyo Godfathers" relies on its characters to make things tick, and it's here that Satoshi Kon leaves his fingerprints. The central protagonists are a trio of homeless people, and although they may not be as psychologically disturbed as the characters in a lot of Kon's other works, they have their share of emotional baggage (they're homeless after all) as well the eccentricity we've come to expect from Kon's creations. Despite the quirkiness of the characters and their often exaggerated facial expressions (that are used for comic effect reminiscent of "Paranoia Agent"), their personalities and interactions feels firmly rooted in reality. The characters' troubles are underpinned by their believable backstories, which really hit home and make it easy for viewers to sympathise with them. The dialogues are delightful; they explore the issues faced by the social outcasts with sensitivity and wit, topped off by of Kon's trademark black humour.

"Tokyo Godfathers" is a film that should appeal to the masses more than Satoshi Kon's other films, but that doesn't mean Kon's fans should be put off by it. It's a strong enough work that even those who prefer their anime to be more twisted and cerebral might still be pleasantly surprised by it.