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Tokyo Godfathers

4.8 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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(Apr 13, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In modern-day Tokyo, three homeless people's lives are changed forever when they discover a baby girl at a garbage dump on Christmas Eve. As the New Year fast approaches, these three forgotten members of society band together to solve the mystery of the abandoned child and the fate of her parents. Along the way, encounters with seemingly unrelated events and people force them to confront their own haunted pasts, as they learn to face their future, together.


Satoshi Kon's third feature (following Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress) confirms his status as one of the most interesting directors working in anime. Tokyo Godfathers centers on three homeless people: Hana, a flamboyant ex-drag entertainer; Gin, an alcoholic former bicycle racer; and Miyuki, a sullen teenage runaway. Their tenuous existence becomes more chaotic when they set out to find the parents of an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve. They scream insults as they confront the lies they've told each other--and themselves--about the past. Yet they remain curiously endearing and even noble. All three care passionately about the abandoned infant, and they love each other, although they're loath to admit it. Kon skillfully uses color to suggest the bitter winter cold and the characters' alienation. Tokyo Godfathers shows that battling the inner demons that led these three characters to skid row can be a more daunting challenge than fighting aliens and cyborgs. (Rated PG-13: profanity, violence, tobacco and alcohol use) --Charles Solomon

Special Features

  • Presented in its original Japanese language with English subtitles
  • Animax making-of featurette
  • Exclusive character illustration card by Satoshi Kon

Product Details

  • Directors: Satoshi Kon
  • Producers: Masao Maruyama
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Animated, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 13, 2004
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001EFTVA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,634 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tokyo Godfathers" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 31, 2004
Format: DVD
I consider this movie a breakthrough. It is the first I've seen that equals - or passes - good live-action movies for subtle development and interaction of characters.
It took the first 30-45 minutes to get going, but that time was used to establish the characters and the setting. Be patient - it's worth the wait. After that, the movie is really about families. I don't mean the "Leave it to Beaver" kind, with Mom, Dad, and their children by each other. I mean the real families these days, where the ideas of Mom and Dad need to flex and where the children are unrelated to one or both. I mean a real family with real problems, holding together because everyone is struggling to hold it together.
The animation is good and the character animation are very good, but excellence is the norm these days. The plot and story are what make this movie stand out. As an aside, I was interested to hear a few English words adopted into the Japanese idiom, "homeless" and "godfather" being the most obvious. I was also interested to see that the Spanish speech wasn't subtitled - English speakers will need to puzzle it through, same as the Japanese listeners did.
This isn't an "adult" movie, but there's not a lot here for kids. That's fine. Kids have their own movies, and we need ours.
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Format: DVD
With such films as "Perfect Blue," "Millennium Actress" and now "Tokyo Godfathers, " Kon Satoshi has rapidly ascended to the ranks of the masters of animation in Japan, side by side with such dignitaries as Miyazaki Hayao, Takahata Isao, Otomo Katsuhiro and Oshii Mamoru.

Like his other films, "Tokyo Godfathers" takes place in modern Japan and part of the joy of the film is seeing the wonderland of Tokyo come alive in vivid animated splendor. To achieve this particular look, Kon filmed live scenes of Tokyo, then animated overtop of the backgrounds, to give his characters a completely realistic environment in which to live their fantasy. The overall effect is really amazing.

The characters are three homeless people, each with a hidden background of severe pain that buries their proverbial hearts of gold. They form a strange, nomadic family, with Gin, a decade-long veteran of the Tokyo streets with a sad and mysterious past, Hana, a slightly pathetic aging drag queen who wants to play the role of mother to the odd clan, and Miyuki, a hard, aggressive teenager who isn't quite sure about the decisions that lead her to this life. Add to that Kiyoko, a foundling baby abandoned in a sack of garbage and discovered on Christmas eve, and the family is complete.

As with "Millennium Actress," Kon effectively weaves together several stories into an complete picture, each thread joining together briefly as it touches the lives of one of the three characters, then separating as they part. However, in the world of "Tokyo Godfathers" there are almost no strangers, and each person met along the path contributes something to the Christmas miracle of Kiyoko.

"Tokyo Godfathers" is very touching and sentimental, as a proper Christmas movie should be.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'll be the first to admit that my preference in anime and movies in general tends to be for the magic, the larger than life adventures, the epic battles and the surreal mind trips through other worlds. But anime isn't all magical girls, mecha, battle action and hentai-and Tokyo Godfathers isn't any of those things. Director and writer Satoshi Kon is a past master of dramatic tension and character development and those who have scene Millennium Actress or Perfect Blue may have more of an idea what to expect from this movie-but I suspect even they won't anticipate how the story twists and turns.

The setting is Tokyo at Christmas time. The characters are three homeless people: Hana, an aging drag queen, Gin, an embittered drunkard, and Miyuki, a smart mouthed teenage runaway. This unlikely "family" is about to find their lives forever changed by the discovery of a newborn baby abandoned in the trash. Sounds kind of depressing, doesn't it? The characters don't seem like they'd be likable at first, the animation isn't forgiving-these characters aren't idealized stereotypes. And then the "magic" begins. Satoshi slowly and subtly unveils his characters through the movie's unexpected twists and turns. What starts as a quest to return a baby, becomes a journey of self-discovery, adventure and redemption for these three remarkable characters. And by the end, you're breathlessly along for the ride. It's a movie that's a reminder of how incredibly good character development can be-and rarely is, even on the live action screen. For a viewer like myself, it was a surprising and touching treat. And belongs in any decent anime collection.

The animation style is gritty and realistic. Don't expect the typical big eyes or wild hair.
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Format: DVD
This second feature by Satoshi Kon, like "Ice Age", spins off of John Ford's 1948 western "Three Godfathers" as a Christmas allegory of three grown men trying to deal with an orphaned baby. This time, we have a runaway teenaged girl, an alcoholic ex-athlete and a middle-aged drag queen who form a kind of family in the underworld of Tokyo's homeless. The discovery of a baby in a trash dump takes them all over town for the week between Christmas and New Years (thus starting on a Christmas holy day and ending on a Shinto/Buddhist holiday), with the coincidences and miracles becoming more and more improbable yet ultimately satisfying.
This hasn't been dubbed into English, which is just as well, because the original voices are perfect, from the hysterics of the runaway to the completely unfeminine voice of the drag queen (if it HAS to be dubbed in future, better that Harvey Fierstein takes the role of Hana). And while this movie and the anime series "Witch Hunter Robin" give intriguing glimpses into post-Bubble homelessness in Japan, and a feature on the subject would have been a welcome extra, I can see why the DVD producers didn't dwell on it. Still, a great movie from a great director.
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