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Tokyo Godfathers brings darkly wry entertainment value, even if the narrative can be a bit too over-the-top and manic.

Tokyo Godfathers might open with a scene depicting a children's choir peacefully singing Silent Night, the picture is anything but your traditional Christmas flick.

For starters, the three titular characters taking care of a foundling are all homeless people fighting personal demons, from a crippling gambling and alcohol addiction to the trauma of having stabbed a parent and the difficulty of living on the streets as a transgender. Tokyo Godfathers thus goes to dark and unsettling places and doesn't shy away from controversy. But that doesn't mean it's a dour film. On the contrary.

Director Satoshi Kon injects plenty of vibrancy and wry humour into the movie, which gives Tokyo Godfathers great entertainment value, even if the narrative will be a bit too over-the-top and manic for most people. The animation is stunning as well, perhaps not on par with Kon's subsequent (and alas: final) feature Paprika, but with all the surprising moods and visual inventiveness that made him such a one-of-a-kind storyteller.

Therefore, imperfect as it is, Tokyo Godfathers is a must-see for any animation enthusiast.

release: 2003

director: Satoshi Kon

starring: Tôru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Aya Okamoto, Shôzô Izuka


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