Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

tokyo godfathers poster 2003 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Satoshi Kon makes good films

Not my favorite of his movies but still good

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Tokyo Godfathers

Studio: Dentsu/Genco/Madhouse

Genre(s):  Animated/Drama/Seasonal

Release Date(s): August 30, 2003 (Big Apple Anime Fest)/October 17, 2003 (Japan)/January 16, 2004 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

tokyo godfathers miyuki hana gin

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Three homeless people walk into a train with a baby

It is Christmas Eve, and Hana has asked for a miracle.  The trans woman, her alcoholic friend Gin, and the young runaway girl Miyuki find a baby discarded among the trash.  Now, Hana has asked Gin and Miyuki to join her on a quest to find the mother of the child.  With little to go on, Gin, Miyuki, and Hana set out and discover that the child could bring them closer to the worlds they left behind.

Directed by Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers (東京ゴッドファーザーズ or Tōkyō Goddofāzāzu) is an anime comedy drama.  Following Millennium Actress in 2001 by Kon, the film takes its basis from the 1913 Peter B. Kyne novel The Three Godfathers.  It was released to critical acclaim.

Satoshi Kon showed amazing promise as a director.  His work was short lived but when he died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer, he has already amassed a strong group of followers.  While Paprika and Perfect Blue are my favorite of his films, Tokyo Godfathers is a strong and fun film.

tokyo godfathers cats miyuki

A future crazy cat lady…

The movie plays out a bit like a Dickens’ story.  The flawed characters each have their own problems and through the course of the search for the baby, they are forced to confront their issues through chance encounters.  Despite being from different backgrounds and all outcasts, the trio forms a family circle that hopefully will survive beyond the story…but you get a feeling that life almost resets after the events.  Fortunately, the child does forever unite them as “godfathers”.

The story gives the characters real heart.  You have the attention loving Hanna who has a flair for the dramatic, the gruff Gin who pretends not to care about anyone but who might have the biggest heart of them all, and Miyuki who tries to put on a brave face but lives in fear of her past and losing her makeshift family as well.  The bond between the characters is unusual but works and propels the story forward.

tokyo godfathers hana baby ending

Motherly love?

This unique storytelling combines with great animation.  Japanese animation isn’t for everyone, but there are some animators and directors who get to the core of what makes it good.  While many knock-off cartoon series are produced quickly, a real animated film has more depth and character than most Disney films…of course they generally aren’t for kids either.

Tokyo Godfathers is worth seeking out.  It isn’t always easy to find, but if you see a copy and are a fan of animation, you should pick it up.  With so many different holiday films out there, Tokyo Godfathers could become a new Christmas favorite.  Satoshi Kon followed Tokyo Godfathers with his final feature length film Paprika in 2006.

Related Links:

Perfect Blue (1997)

Millennium Actress (2001)

Paprika (2006)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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