The first time this movie came to my knowledge was during junior year of high school. The disease known as otakuism just infected me through Inuyasha and Rurouni Kenshin. The magazine Anime Insider became my second favorite monthly publication after American Hunter. (Due to our father never taking my brother and I shooting, Anime Insider soon became my first. That which one can realize is ever superior to that which one must dream about!) When the new issue of Anime Insider was released, the most important task of the day was to absorb all the material it contained from the Editor’s Letter to the Parting Shot; though, I confess that The Death of the Month was my favorite recurrent feature. Around this time, the magazine must have praised Tokyo Godfathers. And so, I recommended to my father that we watch this movie. (He had become interested in anime through Vampire Hunter D, Princess Mononoke, and Rurouni Kenshin.) However, the inclusion of a transvestite among the main characters caused him to strike down this recommendation. Being an obedient child, I decided that this was sufficient cause never to watch this movie myself.
After ten years of hearing praise concerning this film, I included it among the choices for the present series, “10 Days to 300.” A part of me was surprised that it made it to the #1 spot in the poll, but after watching the film, I can see why so many people love this movie. The presence of the transvestite bothered me a little at first until I accepted the character as he was. Hana is the highest minded of the three characters, which is shown by his knowledge of Dostoyevsky and predilection for composing haiku on the fly.
The thing which surprised me most about he movie was the degree of action it contained. Gin, the bearded protagonist, remarks that he’s no action movie hero. Naturally, he later features in some of the hairiest situations in the film. As expected, the film probed human nature, had great characters, and featured excellent comedy. Miyuki, the runaway, gives some of the best laughs. Aya Okamoto does a superb job voicing her, which makes it a shame that she has not done any other anime roles and seems to have retired from acting after Metro ni Notte (2006).
Overall, the film stands as a great work. It earns high marks for its story and characters, each of whom has an interesting story about how they wound up on the streets. Themes of family and forgiveness run throughout–important for a country which seems to dislike the positive use of the verb yurusu “to forgive.” These themes were rendered yet more touching by the action being set on Christmas. Also interesting is the theme of Providence–that Kiyoko is especially blessed by God. I must say that the climax of the movie and that Gin’s relationship with her causes him to come into possession of two bottles of Hennessy V.S.O.P. certainly prove it!
If any of my readers have not seen this film, I recommend them to do so–nevermind Hana!