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Tokyo Godfathers by Satoshi Kon | An Alternative Christmas Movie

This week (Since October actually...) I'd been feeling somewhat festive. And to be honest that shocked me as I'm usually feeling Halloweeny WAY before feeling festive! However, I've been wanting to get a little more holiday cheer this year after last Christmas feeling a little lacking. So with the pistols of Netflix, Disney+ & Amazon Prime nestled firmly in my belt, I ran into the "Christmas Themed" bank building and screamed "OPEN THE FUCKING SAFE!" at the top of my lungs.

One movie (that I actually finished not two hours prior to writing this article) that made the biggest impact has to be Satoshi Kon's Tokyo Godfathers.

It was a strange occurrence that brought this film to my attention as believe it or not I'd never actually heard of Satoshi Kon! I'd seen the cover art for Paprika floating around the internet but I'd never linked the two names together until two of my favourite movie podcasts (Catching Up On Cinema & Super Media Bros) did a guest episode (find it here) covering it. And with their highly regarded opinions, I thought to myself "I better go check this director out".

And then I forgot and went on with my life.

Two weeks later however Netflix threw up from their list Tokyo Godfathers and the name underneath? Satoshi Kon. Okay, we're in let's do this.

Spoiler Free Thoughts

Tokyo Godfathers at its heart is a Christmas film about love and parents. The love a family unit feels for one another and how it's shown to the world. It takes a harsh look at gritty reality and coats it in a fluffy soft feeling of love to show that no matter how hard you think you've become, or how long it's been since you last bathed that the world can be and often is full coincidences and connections that can rebuild and be reborn into something better.

This "Christmas" film follows three homeless people. Gin; a gruff alcoholic, Miyuki; a rebellious young runaway, and Hana; a transvestite with the heart of a mother. Their story takes a turn for the excitement when they stumble upon an abandoned baby girl while searching for food on a cold December night.

A movie like this one doesn't come around often and I'm glad I stumbled on it when I did.

I wasn't aware of what I was getting myself in for, I went in completely blind knowing nothing more than what you've read above. And in keeping this section of the review as spoiler free as possible please go and watch the movie and come back for the deeper dive below.

The film opens with Christian themes of religion being thrown over the heads of a homeless camp in the heart of Tokyo. The introduction of Hana being the one paying attention (although with a slightly discerning look on her face) and Gin lacking any faith at all is an interesting opener. You'd expect someone in her situation to feel like they would need to abandon their faith in order to truly be who their heart tells them they are.

This film is legitimately funny, and not always in the way you're going to expect. It's "real life" funny and that's what I love about it.

Hana being a transvestite and exclaiming that she is a mistake by God, is made light of by her using it to get more food by a vexed-looking soup server. A comedy beat I was not expecting by the set tone of the introduction.

Hana: I am a mistake made by God. In my heart, I am a woman. Gin: Women can have children. Hana: What if a miracle like the Virgin Mary getting pregnant... was to happen to a homo? [to soup kitchen server] Hana: Better give me a little extra. I'm eating for two.

Hana & Gin are a somewhat surrogate Mother and Father to a young runaway by the name of Miyuki. We learn throughout the film exactly what caused this runaway and I won't be spoiling it here, however, it hits hard when you get there. The same goes for Hana, we learn that she was also abandoned as a baby which is why she feels compelled to help the baby to have a loving life.

The world we see feels starkly reel and tragic but at the same time hilarious and snarky. It shows life in its actual states which make it hit all the harder.

Serendipity and coincidence play a huge factor in this film and it's something I love. Because personally, I experience a lot of this myself! Much to the surprise of my friends and family. And speaking of family the group in this film are thrown together because they survive together, they're the crystallized form of you can't choose your family. Because even in a life where they've made choices that have led them to be homeless they've still been coagulated into a group. Something I found to be very humbling in this movie is that it shows that anyone can be homeless. Sometimes it's you make the wrong choice, you stand up for yourself or sometimes your choices don't affect this. And it's just what happens to you.

It's a perfectly tied up story in its themes, story, and message.

Go and watch it.

Hazz 12/01/22

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