Tokyo Godfathers

Tokyo Godfathers


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Fate is a funny thing - both ha-ha and peculiar - a fact that Satoshi Kon never let's us forget during the 92 minutes of this engaging and quirky animation.

It's Christmas Eve and Tokyo is going about its business, from the rich to the poor to the down-and-outs. Three vagrants - an alcoholic, a teenage runaway and a homosexual transvestite - are making what they can from the season when they discover a baby in the midst of a pile of bins. The child has nothing with her but a locker key and a note asking that whoever finds her should take care of her. And so an unlikely adventure begins.

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The tramps decide that they should hunt down the mother and appoint themselves the child's unofficial guardians. Their Odyssey takes them on a journey through the streets of Tokyo, encountering danger and derring-do while confronting the personal demons which led them to the gutter they call home.

The animation is complex and the cityscape lush. Traditional drawing is mixed with more digitised images to give a sense of the overwhelming physicality of the city, compared with the homeless trio. The story is peppered with the animated equivalent of one-liners, which spice up the fairytale narrative.

Fate, as I said, is a funny thing, but you can have too much of it and as coincidence after coincidence piles up the plot becomes somewhat predictable, although an occasional twist serves to hold your interest. The score grates in places but the script hits the mark, with the potty-mouthed vagrants certain to be a hit with older children, although the violence - not much, but very realistic - and, of course, the subtitling, make this unsuitable for younger ones.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2004
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Animated tale of three vagrants in Tokyo who find a baby and look after it.
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Director: Satoshi Kon, Shogo Furuya

Writer: Keiko Nobumoto, Satoshi Kon, based on a story by Satoshi Kon

Starring: voices of Tori Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Ava Okamoto

Year: 2003

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan


EIFF 2004

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