We all know Christmas is a great season to watch movies. The more traditional films featuring carols, glittery decorations, and maybe even Santa and a few of his reindeers, have always been popular. Some us have our own staples we absolutely need to watch to kick off the Holiday season. However, if you’re not much of a Christmas person or are simply looking for something to spice up your Holiday movie watching a bit, ‘Tokyo Godfathers‘ is an unconventional but heartwarming Christmas story.

Tokyo Godfathers‘, released in November of 2003, is a Japanese comedy-drama. It is the third film directed by Satoshi Kon, and it was co-written by both him and Keiko NobumotoKon is the director (and sometimes also a writer) for several cult classic movies, like ‘Perfect Blue‘ and ‘Paprika‘. Nobumoto is most notably known for creating the ‘Wolf’s Rain‘ series and being the head writer for ‘Cowboy Bebob‘. The feature was produced under the studio MadHouse, who have been well-known for years for the works created under their supervision. ‘Tokyo Godfathers‘ finished the year by winning an Excellence Prize at the 2003 Japan Media Arts Festival, and started the next by winning Best Animation Film at the 58th Mainichi Film Awards.

Tokyo Godfathers‘ focuses on a “family” of three homeless people: Gin (voiced by Tōru Emori), an alcoholic with a caring heart, Hana (voiced by Yoshiaki Umegaki), a former drag queen, and Miyuki (voiced by Aya Okamoto), a young runaway girl with a burden she doesn’t know how to carry. It’s Christmas Eve and the main characters are looking for Christmas presents. During a short scuffle, they hear a baby crying in the background. With the baby, they discover several items that most likely belong to her parents. Because of Hana’s headstrong personality, she claims the baby as her own and names the child “Kiyoko” (meaning “Pure Child”), as she was found on Christmas Eve. Gin and Miyuki want to return the baby to her rightful parents through the police, but Hana‘s plan is to raise her together. Due to a compromise created from a realistic point of view about their lifestyle, Gin lets Hana keep Kiyoko for the night, and in the morning they will take her to the police. By morning, Hana feels incredibly attached to the baby, and wants to personally hand Kiyoko to her birth parents using the few items they found with her. This is where the adventure begins for the main characters of the story.

At its heart, ‘Tokyo Godfathers‘ is a Christmas story, but it’s told in a very unconventional way. It can get a bit vulgar compared to movies like ‘The Elf‘, for example, and it handles serious topics such as poverty, domestic abuse, suicide, and large scale gangs. Yet somehow the film, most of the time, manages to subvert these things and make them into silly situations that will make one laugh. ‘Tokyo Godfathers‘ is also full of surprises, and you can’t take the story straight because things are not always what they seem. Because of their adventures, the trio are forced to confront their pasts as well, no matter how hard it is for them. The art looks nice for something made more than 10 years ago, it’s expressive and detailed when it needs to be. The voice acting is superb, they all fit the characters and their personalities pretty well. Lastly the music scoring is almost perfect for the film. It’s a bit humorous sounding but still rather exciting.

I can’t go too much into the ending, other than that most loose ends were tightly tied by the end of the film aside from one thing. I don’t want to be too descriptive about it, but it left me with a dumbfounded expression for reasons only those who watch the movie will find out. I thoroughly enjoyed the film from beginning to end between the interesting story-line, funny moments, and the surprises laid out through the movie. With almost perfect timing, it was just announced that the movie is getting a restoration, a new dub, and updated subs because of a new copyright claim in 2020.

Story: 9/10
Characters: 9.5/10
Music: 9/10
Animation: 10/10
Voice Acting: 10/10

Overall score: 9.5/10