Tokyo Godfathers

Just about everybody loves to sit down and watch a nice Christmas story, any story that either shows how one learns the true meaning of Christmas (the presents, yo), or how one must save Christmas for whatever reason. Either way, stories of Christmas miracles seem to have a way of warming our hearts, no matter how ridiculously unlikely or serendipitous the story seems to be. And now for my stunningly smooth transition to the real review: Tokyo Godfathers, Satoshi Kon’s third film, is a great example of a Christmas story, but unlike most Christmas stories, this movie is about a group of unlikely heroes — well, most stories are about unlikely heroes, but Tokyo Godfathers has some really unlikely heroes, which I think brings a lot of realism to the story and is ultimately why I love this movie. Once again, I’ve stumbled upon a Kon film that I really can’t find anything wrong with, so be prepared to see a lot of praise.

We first meet a mismatched trio of bums on a Christmas evening.

    The first we see is Hana, a middle-aged Transvestite who wishes to become a woman and experience the joy of motherhood. As eccentric as one would expect, Hana is usually the driving force of what the entire group ends up doing, more often than not to their dismay.

    Next we come across Gin, an aging, fat, rude alcoholic who seems to only care for himself, despite traveling in a group. He is the man of the group, doing man things as men do, even if looked down upon for doing so.

    Lastly, we get Miyuki, a runaway teenager who has been living on the streets for several months with Hana and Gin. Somewhat of a tomboy, Miyuki is often criticized by Hana for not being ladylike, and she tends to clash with Gin, leading to occasional fights. She’s your typical independent, teen outcast, and is content with not returning home.

On that same fateful night, while fighting amongst themselves in what is literally a pool of garbage, they are interrupted by the cries of an infant. Investigating, they find that a baby has been abandoned in that very same pool of garbage. At first Gin and Miyuki are intent on taking the baby to the authorities to be properly taken care of, but Hana senses the great opportunity of finally being able to fulfill motherhood. However, after a few hours with the baby, Hana becomes driven to find the baby’s parents and give them a piece of his/her mind; unable to do much more than protest, Gin and Miyuki go along with Hana to find the baby girl’s parents, which has them all thrown into a large Christmas adventure!

Each of these characters are very unique on their own, and could easily become fictional icons that you’ll be rooting for, as much as you might to Batman, or Luke Skywalker. Hana, Gin and Miyuki are extremely colorful characters, but also extremely relatable. Being a teenager myself, I could instantly associate myself with Miyuki and her whole ordeal living on the streets, and intent on never going back home. As the movie continued, Miyuki wasn’t the only character I became emotional stocked in, which made the story much more enjoyable. As I noted in my introduction, these characters are the very unlikely type of hero. Not only are they social misfits, they are also each tragic characters on their own, which show their flaws to the fullest. In my personal opinion, having broken characters that you can relate to is much better than having the perfect hero, and makes the entire experience of the movie much more enjoyable.

Now, some people may not enjoy the large serendipity certain events in this story hold, and believe me, this story is full of serendipitous moments. In fact, while the characters are so believable, the reason we know this is a Christmas miracles story is because of how extremely happenstance everything within it seems to be. This element is so apparent, I’m almost inclined to believe that Satoshi Kon may have been parodying the serendipity most miracle stories seem to have. Personally, I love how it’s used in the story, but it is true that the story seems to rely on it a lot to keep the plot moving. Despite this, we must take into consideration that this is a story about Christmas miracles, and this stuff is to be expected in bulk. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but once you watch it you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Lastly, the music and visuals of this movie play a large role in defining the atmosphere. Whether it be comedic, depressing, heart-warming, or anything, Kon perfectly plays it, making the entire experience an enjoyable ride. While not as visually amazing as some of Kon’s other work, the animation is still top-level and excels at portraying the story.

In conclusion, Tokyo Godfathers is an amazing, uplifting movie. While not as perfect as Perfect Blue, this movie is still top-tier in quality and achieves brilliance throughout the entirety of the film. My only complaint is that it is a little long, but that’s extremely minor. I strongly recommend this movie to those who love Christmas stories, Satoshi Kon, strong characters, and happy endings. I’m going to be as harsh as possible, and give this movie a 9/10, marking it down only for it’s reliance on serendipity to push the plot forward, which I still loved. This movie is another prime example of why I love Satoshi Kon and everything he has done, and why I am so sad now that he has passed on. Until my next Kon review, this has been Sachi, bringing you the magic that is Tokyo Godfathers.

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