Apparently inspired by Three Godfathers, the over-sentimental John Ford western from 1948, the “godfathers” here are three homeless Tokyo-ites — Gin, a former professional bicycle racer; Hana, a transvestite; and Miyuki, a young runaway girl — living together in Shinjuku, Tokyo. On Christmas Eve, they find a baby, and embark on a journey that takes them all across the city in order to reunite the baby with its parents, while at the same time bringing their own lives closer to their ultimate destinies. Fun, fast-pac…d, and cleverly laced with well-timed humor, the wacky events that ensue have a deep element of humanity that craftily puts into context their entire journey.
From his jump-cuts from extreme facial gestures, to the hilarious “Homo of Tokyo” run cycles of the strong-willed comic-relief Hana, director Satoshi Kon certainly knows how to entertain an audience. But the depth of the characters and the poignancy of the ultimate storyline are what separate Godfathers from the usual Anime fare. A wonderful achievement.
Delivered in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the presentation is not as impressive as some of the higher budget digital transfers available for Disney’s big-budget animated features. That said, Tokyo Godfathers still looks fine. Colors are solid and free of bleeding, and the flesh tones are likewise appropriate. The source print is very clean, and shows no scratches and no excessive grain.
Tokyo Godfathers is presented in Japanese with an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. There is a wide dynamic mix with great use of the surround speakers to enhance the alley scenes by adding random sounds. The dialogue is clear in the centre speaker with an excellent soundtrack faithfully reproduced in the right and left speakers. The bass is used to enhance traffic sounds and other ambient effects well.
Aside from a trailer gallery featuring clips for seven recent and upcoming Japanese imports as well as one for Godfathers (others include AstroBoy, Steamboy, Cyborg 009, Returner, Metropolis, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Memories), the only extra is a fairly light 23-minute making-of featurette produced for Japanese television and presented with English subtitles. It’s mostly promotional in nature and offers little in terms of how the production was made or any of the animation processes.
When I think of anime I usually think of giant robots, guys with big spiky hair and ultra slow motion violence. This was definitely a change of pace for myself – and actually a welcome one at that. Tokyo Godfathers is a story driven drama that is worth a rental.
Special Features List
- Animax making-of featurette
- Exclusive character illustration card by Satoshi Kon