Project #52: Tokyo Godfathers

Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Well, all last week I was scrambling trying to find a good Christmas anime to review for the holiday but came up with nothing so it looks like this week I won’t be reviewing anything. Sorry, I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj. HA! Just kidding I wouldn’t do that to you guys. For me, Christmas has always been a time of love, peace, and giving to others. A time of the year where the best of humanity shines at it’s brightest. And I think the one animated film that shows the best of humanity is Tokyo Godfathers. Written and directed by the up and coming anime director at the time Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers is often seen as Kon’s most recognizable work. The movie centers on 3 homeless people trying to help a new born baby find it’s parents on Christmas Eve. This film has received high praise from viewers and critics for being very touching and heartfelt and with those characteristics I can think of no better film to review for the holidays. Let’s spread the joy of love and take a look at Tokyo Godfathers.

So the film opens up shockingly with a Nativity scene. Yeah, when I first watched this film this opening took me by surprise this was huge. Keep in mind this is the same country that crucified missionaries and killed their fellow countrymen just for teaching and practicing Christianity during the late 16th and 17th century. After the Meiji Restoration in 1871 freedom of religion became legal and after WWII Christianity has been slowly increasing in the country. Anyway, its Christmas time and the local church is giving a sermon about the birth of Jesus Christ and handing out dinner for the homeless. We get a quick introduction to our 3 main characters. First is Gin voiced by Toru Emori a man who once had a family and used to own a bicycle shop but due to his constant gambling he worked up a huge debt and ran away from home leaving his wife and daughter behind. Next up is Hana voiced by Yoshiaki Umegaki a transvestite who acts like the mother of the group and has dreams of wanting to be a mother someday. It’s hinted that she has aids and is slowly dying but she keeps this fact a secret from the others. The final member is Miyuki voiced by Aya Okamoto a high school girl who ran away from home because of a fight she had with her father about her cat and has been living on the streets for 6 months (see, nothing good comes from owning a cat, stick with dogs). As the three are searching through trash hoping to find Hana’s gift to Miyuki they hear a baby crying and find it. Hana feels overjoyed to find the baby since it’ll give her the chance to be that mother she’s always wanted to be but Gin says they should hand her over to the police. Hana ignores him and names the baby Kiyoko and decides she wants to find Kiyoko’s parents and ask them why they abandoned her. So the next day they find a locker key on Kiyoko and find the locker where they find a picture of the possible parents as well as the place where the mother works (which is a strip club). Along the way they help this mafia guy who got stuck underneath a car and he takes them to his daughter’s wedding (whose name is also Kiyoko. Small world) as a token of his gratitude (now if this had been the real world I’m sure the daughter would be a little angry that her father did this). At the wedding they find out from the groom that Kiyoko’s (the baby not the bride) belongs to a stripper named Sachiko. At the wedding a hitman from South America shows up, shoots the groom, and uses Miyuki and Kiyoko as a hostage to escape. Hana and Gin try to chase after them but Gin says he’s had enough angering Hana who leaves him behind to die like the trash he is.

As Gin is wondering the streets drunk he comes across a dying homeless man in the street (who looks like Santa mind you). The homeless Santa gives Gin a small red bag and tells him to keep it safe and passes away. As Gin is leaving some teenagers show up to beat Gin up as well as the dead old man (seriously, are you guys that lonely and messed up that you have to beat up 2 homeless people just to get an erection and rub one out of each other). Meanwhile the hitman takes Miyuki and the baby back to his place where he and his wife stay. There, Miyuki establishes a friendship with the wife and Miyuki tells her that the reason she ran away from home is because she stabbed her father who she believes is responsible for the disappearance of her cat (no offence but that’s kinda fucked up to stab your dad over a missing cat). Hana eventually finds them and they go to look for Gin who is in the streets dying until someone comes to pick him up. Hana and Miyuki decide to crash at Hana’s mother’s place which is a bar where they find Gin being nursed by the local bar girls (that’s the best healing medicine for him). At the bar we find out that Hana used to be married to a guy named Ken but unfortunately died and through a series of unexplained events became homeless. We also see that she used to work at the bar as a singer but after attacking one of the customers she left and out of shame has never came back to the bar and was afraid that her mother hated her (why would she hate you? The guy was harassing you, he deserved it). Hana and her mother work things out and the next day thanks to Gin they might have found out where Sachiko lives and make their way to her house (we’re off to see the Sachiko the pole dancing Sachiko). They arrive at the house but find out it’s been torn down for 3 months due to the couple not paying their debts. While investigating they find that the couple moved into a small apartment somewhere else in town and Miyuki finds a small newspaper article from her dad saying that her cat has been found and that he wants Miyuki to come back home. Later that night Hana collapses from her sickness and has to be rushed to a hospital where Gin meets his daughter Kiyoko (okay seriously is Kiyoko a common name in Japan or something? Three people in the span of 2 or 3 days and they each have the same name, that can’t be a coincidence). The two have a nice chat and clear the air between them and as Hana and Miyuki are walking through the streets they find Sachiko and hand the baby back to her (too easy. What else you got for me movie).

Gin goes to Sachiko’s apartment where we see the place is a complete shit hole (no I’m serious. I’m surprise the place isn’t crawling with rats and cockroaches. The place is practically their slice of Heaven). Once inside he meets Sachiko’s husband who tells him that the baby isn’t there’s and that Sachiko stole the baby from the hospital. After hearing this Gin rushes off to find the others and they track down Sachiko who has no intention of giving the baby up (it’s not even your baby ya crazy ass bitch). She steals a truck and drives it into a building where she rides an elevator to the top and plans to commit suicide along with the baby (nutjob). Miyuki manages to talk her out of it and the baby is given back to her real parents (good, now send this woman to the psycho ward where she can be treated). We end with the three becoming Kiyoko’s godparents and the small red bag that Gin got from the dying old man turns out to be a winning lottery ticket and that’s the end.

Final Thoughts

This was a fanstastic movie. The characters are good and likable, the story is heart-warming, and it has the right amount of drama and comedy. I love how each of the characters have to face their past through the film and admit their mistakes and wrong doings while still progressing the story. I also love the bit at the end where we find out that the dying old man gave Gin a winning lottery ticket that was good. The animation is good for its time but the character designs can be a little weird at times like sometimes they’ll make facial expressions that seem a bit too cartoony especially for a film that seems to be taking place in a real world setting. But other than that it’s a very good film.

Final Score

Tokyo Godfathers scores a solid 9/10. It’s a film that’s great to watch any other time of the year but it’s even better to watch at Christmas. So if you’re looking for a good Christmas film to watch with your family and friends that has the right amount of drama, comedy, and heart check this film out you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for reading, happy holidays to everyone out there, and I’ll see you next year on Project Nitsuj.

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