Sunday, August 26, 2012

Movie Review: Tokyo Godfathers

I'd seen a good chunk of this movie before during a livestream but unfortunately due to technical difficulties I'd seen barely any of the beginning of it and wanted to properly sit down and watch it sometime. So, when the college library moved all their DVDs around (noooo, just when I had learned where everything was!) I checked out where they had put all the animation DVDs and this was one of the first things in there. I should mention this is the same place where I got Paranoia Agent, Millinium Actress and where the guy at the check out knew about The Dreaming Machine (I think that's it's title?) so clearly I'm not the only fan of Satoshi Kon who uses this library which does make me rather happy considering how few works he had.

Tokyo Godfathers

Summary: It's Christmas time but that doesn't mean much for the homeless Gin, Miyuki, and Hana (a bum, a high school runaway, and a transsexual respectively) who are just trying to stay warm and stay fed in a Tokyo winter. So it's to their, and the viewer's, great surprise when they come across an abandoned baby in the trash one day and set out to try and find who she really belongs to.

The Good: This is the least surreal of any of Kon's films I've seen so far, although considering it's premise and the old luck that follows the characters around for the whole movie it's not quite realistic fiction either (although it does come close). The movie does a fantastic job at fleshing out it's three leads and having a really fun plot in the process, even though it gets heavy and sad when it talks about legitimately sad issues (from what I've read elsewhere Japan really tries to cover up the fact that it has homeless people at all and the scene with the teenagers really happened around the time the movie was made). All in all this is my favorite of Satoshi Kon's works, unless Perfect Blue is even better once I get around to seeing it, and I think I could recommend this movie to someone who might be a casual anime fan or even someone who enjoys a Disney/Pixar film and is in the mood for something Christmas themed.

The Bad: I said the movie is almost realistic fiction but not quite, I'd advise having that mindset going in if you tend to be a stickler for realism since there are quite a few coincidences, call them miracles, throughout the movie that play with the realm of possibility. I had no problem with them, I found them amusing and the movie did hint at a reason for their occurrences, but I'm sure it would bother others so I thought it worth noting. That's pretty much it, the plot wouldn't progress the way it does (or at least at the speed it manages) without these miracles but that seems to be a staple of Christmas movies everywhere so I really can't hate it for that.

The Audio: I do wish they had included some subtitles during the Spanish speaking bits (I watched this movie with my mom who was able to translate a tiny bit of it which helped) and, while I understand why there weren't subtitles at that point I still would have liked them. I watched the Japanese dub of the movie (it appears that there is an English dub of the film but it was done by Animax Asia, ie I don't think there's an American/Canadian or even British dub of the movie) and it worked well. The characters sounded a bit less stereotypically anime than usual, which worked well since this didn't feel like an average anime movie, and I really liked how Miyuki sounded like a real, grumpy, teenaged girl with a lower voice than most female anime characters have

The Visuals: As I noted last week with Paranoia Agent, Kon's films all have a distinctive art style and I'm not talking about the surrealism, I mean that the characters all look like they were created by the same person (Miyuki for example looks a bit like a younger sister or cousins to Paprika from Paprika). Thankfully Kon can design more than six character types so this isn't a problem and I thought the art worked just well here. Due in part to it's movie budget the film looks good with plenty of detail and looks consistently good throughout the entire movie.

This was a very solid movie and I was happy at how much I ended up enjoying it, I hadn't expected to like it quite this much and I think I'll try to pick up a copy of it for myself sometime. It probably won't be immediately, since I have quite a bit of anime (gah, why does everything come out so close together) to buy at the moment but I'll keep an eye out to see if I can snatch it up during a sale somewhere sometime. 

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