Blu-ray Review: Tokyo Godfathers | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, September 20th, 2020  

Tokyo Godfathers

Studio: Shout! Factory & GKIDS

Jun 04, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

On a cold Christmas Eve, three homeless people find a bawling baby while scavenging through the trash. Hana, a transwoman who’s long hoped to experience motherhood but thought she’d never have the chance, decides they’ll take the child in themselves, but that only lasts into Christmas morning, when they realize the three of them are in no position to responsibly raise a child. They make a new resolution, and it’s that they’ll find the abandoned child’s real parents, to find out why they would leave behind their offspring. It’s a quest that strains the bonds of the pseudo-family they’ve formed, and leads all three – including gruff, alcoholic Gin, and teenage runaway Miyuki – to confront the mistakes of their pasts while they contemplate the baby’s future.

Tokyo Godfathers is a bit of an outlier in Satoshi Kon’s small but masterful filmography; those seeking the Lynchian mind-twists of Perfect Blue, Paprika, or Millennium Actress will find them mostly absent in this far more straight-forward film. This movie trades in a much more grounded form of magic, weaving a humanist tale that’s driven by coincidence. At one point, Hana refers to their stumbling upon the baby as a Christmas miracle, but the whole movie can perhaps be viewed as a series of semi-tragic miracles. Over the course of their adventure a character finds themself beaten, taken hostage, or hospitalized, but each setback brings them one step closer to the end of their mission, and one step closer to an eventual happy ending. Tokyo Godfathers is immensely endearing: heartbreaking at times but absolutely heartwarming in others. If it’s the less-often discussed film of Kon’s oeuvre simply because it’s not all that weird, well, that’s a shame, because it’s wonderful.

Shout! Factory and GKIDS not only offer up the film on Blu-ray for the first time, but with an all-new English dub that’s incredibly well done. (Hana is voiced in the dub by trans actress Shakina Nayfack, which adds an extra bit of representation to a film that was already pretty respectful with its portrayal.) There are a wealthy of extra features here, including a sixty second short film by Kon titled Ohayo, and a much longer featurette about its creation. It’s a spectacular release, and hopefully this reissue – and the great, new English dub – will get the movie in front of the larger audience it’s long deserved.



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