Tokyo Godfathers

Tokyo Godfathers

Tokyo Godfathers anime movie cover art
Tokyo Godfathers

Movie Overview

Tokyo Godfathers (東京ゴッドファーザーズ) is the third anime movie directed by Satoshi Kon. The DoubleSama Discord server watched the movie as part of our Satoshi Kon movie month, which is now over. But, if you want to participate in future group watches, we’re doing one on the last Friday of every month.

As with the other Satoshi Kon movies, I knew nothing about Tokyo Godfathers going into it. So, I was pretty surprised to find out that it’s a Christmas movie. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not really a fan of Christmas movies as a genre.

But, I’ll still admit that Tokyo Godfathers is a good movie. My biggest complaint is probably that it’s different than Satoshi Kon’s other films. The other three blend reality and fantasy in various ways that I enjoyed. This one doesn’t do that, which can leave it feeling a bit plain by comparison.

Gin, Miyuki, Hana, and baby Kiyoko from the anime movie Tokyo Godfathers
Gin, Miyuki, Hana, and baby Kiyoko

The movie follows two homeless adults and a runaway teen who find an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve. At first, the trio isn’t quite sure what to do with the baby, named Kiyoko. Gin thinks they should turn her over to the police. But, Hana believes they should raise her themselves.

In the end, they decide to locate the baby’s parents and confront them. They want to know why the parents abandoned their child rather than put her up for adoption. Though, I do think that handing the baby over to the police immediately would have been for the best.

That wouldn’t make for a very good movie, though. So, instead, our homeless trio sets out on an adventure full of Christmas miracles. And by Christmas miracles, obviously, I mean action sequences and surprising twists. It’s still a Kon movie, after all.

Main Characters

Tokyo Godfathers might have my favorite cast of Kon’s movies. I don’t know; I like the cast of Paprika a lot too. Gin, Hana, and Miyuki are definitely good characters, though. They have good chemistry with each other and each get their own development arcs in the movie.

Gin is the oldest of the trio and seems to be the one who has lived on the streets for the longest. He’s an alcoholic, transphobic, jerk. But, despite that, he does care about Hana, Miyuki, and Kiyoko.

I think I like Gin more than Hana, but less than Miyuki. Gin’s character arc is my favorite of the three. He goes from being a drunk to an action movie hero. And while that may seem like a big jump, it fits into who he is pretty well.

Gin, Miyuki, Hana, and baby Kiyoko at a fancy party from the anime movie Tokyo Godfathers
Gin, Miyuki, Hana, and baby Kiyoko at a fancy party

Hana is a trans woman, so I’m going to be using feminine pronouns for her. While she’s my least favorite of the three, she’s also the most fun character. She’s the one who’s the most expressive and emotional. And it’s her emotions that lead to a lot of the events the trio gets caught up in.

For example, if it wasn’t for Hana, none of the events of the movie would happen. She’s the one who doesn’t want to turn Kiyoko over to the police. And she’s also the one who decides that they’re going to find Kiyoko’s parents.

Miyuki is my favorite character simply because I like the way she’s written. She’s a teenage runaway. And she acts like every indifferent teenager who’s ever existed. She’s not some starry-eyed kid. She’s moody, easily annoyed, and rebellious.

It doesn’t matter if something is best for her. If an adult says it, she doesn’t listen.

A Series of Unfortunate Christmas Miracles

There are a lot of “Christmas miracles” in Tokyo Godfathers. But, they all start out as unfortunate situations. And that’s something I like about this movie. Everything that happens turns a bad event into a positive experience.

To illustrate this, I’ll be spoiling parts of the movie. This is your warning.

So, one of my favorite examples of this happening is when Hana has to go to the hospital. We find out Hana is sickly, which isn’t good. And to pay for the stay, Gin has to give up the money he saved up to send to his estranged daughter.

This is one of the lowest points in the movie. But, it all turns around when it’s revealed that Gin’s daughter works at the hospital as a nurse. The two of them are reunited, and we learn that Gin’s daughter’s name is also Kiyoko.

Miyuki, Hana, Gin, and baby Kiyoko toward the end of their adventure from the anime movie Tokyo Godfathers
Miyuki, Hana, Gin, and baby Kiyoko toward the end of their adventure

Of course, there were also a bunch of wacky situations that fit into this trend, as well. Who can forget when Miyuki and Kiyoko get taken hostage by an assassin? But, again, this turns out to be for the best in the end.

The assassin takes Miyuki and Kiyoko to his family’s home, where Kiyoko gets fed by a woman with a baby of her own. Before this happened, it was unclear where Kiyoko’s next meal was coming from. Earlier in the movie, Miyuki spilled all the baby formula the trio had.

Look, I’m usually not a fan of anime in which everything ends on a positive. The whole “happily ever after” ending isn’t very interesting, to me. But, Tokyo Godfathers did it well. There’s an equal amount of hardships and positive outcomes. And the characters are likable, so you want them to succeed.

Conclusion

Tokyo Godfathers is a 7/10. It’s a good movie, but I don’t think it’s nearly as good as Perfect Blue or Paprika. And even though I gave it the same rating as Millennium Actress, I like this one more.

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2 Replies to “Tokyo Godfathers”

  1. The general premise of this movie as you’ve summarised reminds me a lot of Shoplifters, also a Japanese film which I think you’d absolutely enjoy. I agree 110% about Satoshi Kon. I have absolutely zero doubt that, had he lived to have a full career, he would have been regarded as one of the all-time greats along the likes of Disney, Tezuka, and Miyazaki. And if you happen to not like anime, give Kon a try anyway. His work is NOT typical anime. He was genuinely unique. This anime is really master piece.

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