Satoshi Kon’s unusual Christmas film is such a runaway mess of a film. It’s continuously absurd, yet surprisingly heartwarming and hilarious. I cried. Naturally, I loved it. The film follows the lives of a trio of homeless people: Gin – a drunkard with a mysterious past, Hana – a drag queen drama/baby obsessed man, and Miyuki – a teenage runaway. This unlikely family happens upon a baby girl in the dump and set out to find out what happened to her parents. What follows is a tale that’s so over-the-top crazy that it could only be told in animation. Speaking of the animation, the character models and design are incredibly fluid, but it doesn’t kid itself. This is a cartoon. But in a way, having it be up front with its animation consciousness allows us, the audience, to accept it for what it is. It allows us to be swept into the film, to allow the artistry and emotional impact to truly affect us. By making the film animated, we become surprised when the film goes into some heavy material to find ourselves crying. Animated films get too caught up in looking realistic – realism is something an artist should never strive for. Art can never be truthful. That’s why it’s art. Satoshi Kon’s films are always beautiful – Tokyo Godfathers is no exception. The backgrounds are gorgeous and varied. The city is a winter wonderland. And the music selection/score? Lovely.
My big problem is that only one of the three characters is given a full back story.There are only mere glimpses into the characters Hana and Miyuki, yet we get a full back story of Gin. There’s so much more to the reasons they became homeless, but the film generally concentrates on Gin’s character. Another problem with the film is its overall messiness. I understand that it’s part of the charm, but the way it’s edited can be somewhat annoying after a while. It’s generally a fast paced film with little breathing room. After thinking about it for a while, the ending seems a little bit tacked on. The final ordeal the characters go through is a bit forced. But overall, it truly is a wonderful Christmas/Holiday film. B+
I didn’t discover Satoshi Kon until just this year, actually. A movie forum recommended me the title, “Millennium Actress” and said that his works rivaled that of Hayao Miyazaki. I watched Millennium Actress immediately afterward. It was amazing. I loved every last second of it. It’s wondrous beauty was entrancing and the layered story will stay with me forever. It was so great that I have declared it the best movie of the year 2003. Around the time I had my viewing of it was around the time that Satoshi-san found out that he was dying of cancer and only had a few months to live. Of course, this fact wouldn’t have been told to the public until after his death. He was taken too soon. If you’ve seen Millennium Actress, or any of this man’s work, you’d know that the work he has achieved has truly transcended the art medium that people usually dismiss as if it’s just a nerdy niche. Satoshi Kon, you will be missed. Thank you, Satoshi Kon. RIP.