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Tokyo Godfathers [FB]
August 30th, 2011 by Dan

We three kings

I’m shocked at how much I liked Tokyo Godfathers. By all accounts I shouldn’t be surprised. I knew I liked Satoshi Kon and I knew the basic outline of the movie, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

Tokyo Godfathers is a modern-day fairy tale. Like many fairy tales, it’s almost entirely predicated on coincidence and luck, but like the best of them it ends up not feeling like contrivance. It begins with the nativity story, the salvation story of God “giving away” his only child, and ends with a reunion between father and child. Kiyoko is implied to be under God’s protection and things get implausible quick, but without seeming improbable or like the viewer is being cheated.

At this point it’s hard for me to separate my love for Satoshi Kon and how well the movie does what it does, but I do believe that the characters he creates are charismatic enough that I found myself loving all three by the end of the movie despite not expecting to. Even the random supporting roles, the taxi driver, the older bum, and the Latina housewife are all fleshed out in great ways.

Speaking of the Latina woman, that was a nice little bonus there. My ability to understand Spanish allowed me to understand what was going on there. I don’t know if the subtitlers were following the implication that a Japanese viewer wouldn’t understand Spanish either, but they didn’t subtitle her lines and I was still able to understand the communication. It’s bold when a movie does this. Just flat out tells you that you don’t get to know what a person is saying. I liked it.

It’s weird how this, the tamest and least mindscrew-y of Satoshi Kon’s works might end up my favorite of the bunch. I found myself genuinely caught up in the films moments, getting emotional at the right times, freaking out during the action scenes, and just really rolling with it. In fact, the worst part about the movie was the realization at the end that I was done. I’ve now seen all of Satoshi Kon’s movies/tv series. I do really hope that funding is found to finish his last work posthumously, but, for now, I’m glad that he did what he did. My life has been enriched by all five of his productions.


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