Tokyo Godfathers (2003) – The Ultimate Dysfunctional Family

“Tokyo Godfathers” is really not a sequel nor anything related to “The Godfather” trilogy and mafia. Yet, it’s an animated comedy movie with such a simple premise about life and coincidence by Satoshi Kon. Kon always gambles with his viewers’ mind; not really the same as “Paprika” or “Perfect Blue”. While both anime have such mind-blowing and mind-bending twist, this one was really simple. Simply put, this is a Christmas movie in general; you’ve watched it for a long time. This film contains a predictable story, sensible humor, but slightly tackle a serious issue. They are homeless, transvestite, discrimination, pressure, and abandoned.

We follow these three major characters. They have different characteristics, the life they lived in, and flashback. Introduce Gin as a middle-aged man, Hana as a transvestite, and Miyuki as a young woman. In one night, the night before Christmas, the angel fell to Earth to bless them. These three homeless, besides having nothing, found a baby in the trash. There is no other choice but to try to find the baby’s parents. However, one of the strongest characters always appears even though you consider it insignificant. That character is a coincidence. Like life itself, these three characters live their lives as homeless, full of coincidences.

Such simple plots and 90 minutes of duration, Satoshi Kon portrays the other side of reality. These three characters are always in different situations, especially when they start to separate but reunite because of a certain event. They, besides trying to find the baby’s parents, hid their past one to another. They tried to get past the rigors of reality besides being in a convenience together. It feels like these characters are part of us.

Society always presses Hana just because “she” is a transgender. Miyuki had a reason why she had to run away from home because of family dysfunction. Gin has dark times why he often gets drunk and often manipulates his memory. And in the end, they passed it together. They don’t just leave a trail of footprints on the snow. But, they left a burdened memory. It’s like a unique story, a funny misadventure story, a touching-happy story. It’s full of various meanings and messages.

Kon, differently, still keeps its own trademark and inspiration. When it comes to visual, “Tokyo Godfathers” is one of the most powerful. The animation is memorable yet feels alive. The characters design is not too close to realism but still. Kon maintains his symbolization, especially the cinematography, quick cut, match cut, scenes between one another, etc. A minor character, together with a windmill, die together. When he just woke up, the windmill turned back. The title comes with many interpretations, put left a unique impression. A city depicts of sparkling nights, the use of lighting, the resonated background, it just gave us a quick and flawless idea.

“Tokyo Godfathers”, for me, doesn’t have a memorable soundtrack. The soundtrack is decent with the tone full of humor and happiness. The final melody, Moonriders’ “Ode to Joy”, at the end of the movie is quite nice. The voice acting is great. Shame why they don’t use them anymore with this cast to other anime. Yoshiaki Umegaki as Hana was so great. He plays a transvestite character that’s so unique. Besides that, it’s impressive because they show it really to their own characters. The baby crying, the sound effects, every minute in place or background, are so real.

The movie alluding to a topic about discrimination to homeless, especially the film is also set in Japan. The conflicts between them are always on the level of bad luck, never getting hope, except hoping for a miracle. Hana is one of the best examples of this. He is isolated by society and has no choice but to hide his identity. In some countries, freedom, and rights, whether anyone, has been well respected. They have been considered part of society. In fact, it depends on just a few countries.

“Tokyo Godfathers” focuses on a baby, the trigger of these major characters. Baby, in this case, means a blessing messenger in one beautiful Christmas night. A miracle and luck why they can find this baby. This baby is like a savior for them, like an angel descending from the sky but in the form of a baby. In some scenes, some characters almost have an accident or even they have an accident. One particular point, the baby, was the savior of these characters. At the end of the movie, even though they separated until the end, they have reunited thanks to the baby again. The baby brought together are all full of charm and happiness. And comes to think of it, the baby’s name is Kiyoko means pure child, rejoice, or gift. Oddly, the ending of the movie back to the title itself, the godfather as in the baby’s parents.

Critics, mostly, don’t like this film because there are too many coincidences and deus ex machina in the story. Yet, it’s not that really complex at all. Kon uses Christmas as the major setting of the movie. The baby is a bearer of its blessings. This baby acts as the destiny of these three main characters. God always shows us the unique path as God wants to tell an indirect to us. God shows us how eternal and narrow the world is. For some reason, something we never expected, even homeless, still inspires each other. But, what about us? Do we always think about how bad the person is outside or the similarity of views by the majority of people?

“Tokyo Godfathers” is a melodrama movie that Kon teaches us about life as an eternal pleasure yet are still parts we can take it. Kon has inspiring many other directors including Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky. This is the kind of movie about the life of coincidences. We still remain in front of other people but still the same. It’s sent with a miracle we never thought of it. The movie, it could be, dominated by adult viewers. However, this film can be enjoyed by anyone.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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