is a 2003 Anime
movie directed by Satoshi Kon
; the film is heavily based on the silent movie The Three Godfathers
, which is about a trio of bandits who discover a foundling. This dramatic comedy is a stark departure from Kon's more mind-bending
works, but it lacks none of his atmospheric touch, keen social commentary, and insight on the human condition.
Three homeless people
— Gin (the Jerk with a Heart of Gold
), Hana (a Transsexual
) and Miyuki (a runaway girl
who doesn't fit any of the usual Japanese teenage girl tropes) — find an abandoned baby
while digging through trash and spend Christmas Eve
looking for its missing parents
Contains a lot of Contrived Coincidences
(miracles, really, but always within the realm of possibility), but that's kind of the point. In the meantime, viewers get a glimpse of a side of Tokyo that is rarely seen in anime.
Tokyo Godfathers contains examples of:
- Arc Number: 1225 (which refers to December 25).
- Berserk Button: Hana lashes out at anyone who misgenders her.
- Don't harm a cat in front of Miyuki.
- Bilingual Dialogue: Miyuki and the South American shooter from the wedding, and later with his wife (it is his wife, but she confirms this only in Spanish). He says at first that he’ll kill her if she doesn’t cooperate, but quickly drops the act and tells her he’s willing to help and get the baby the milk she needs. The wife is very supportive, even if it seems she doesn’t understand what a big mess Miyuki got herself into.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Taken to extremes by Miyuki.
- Bruce Lee Clone: The leader of the teen delinquents thinks he's one.
- Calling the Old Man Out: In Miyuki's flashback. It did not end well.
- Christianity In Japan: Several of the main characters admit to being Christian to some degree, or to at least are familiar with Christian tradition and the story of Jesus. The fiery preacher seen in the opening credits may have been the same drunken slob who accosts Gin and Hana in a convenience store later on; if so, Hana is a better Christian than he is.
- Christmas in Japan: Notable for being an actual Christmas ''drama'' in Japan, which focuses on the true meaning of Christmas according to the west... somewhat.
- Christmas Miracle
- Contrived Coincidence: Far too many to list here without spoiling the whole movie. It never feels cheap, though; it happens so often — and often in such hilarious and unexpected ways — that by the time it gets to the truly absurd stuff, the viewer is liable to just roll with it.
- Also somewhat justified; the characters speculate that the baby they are helping is under the protection of God — and if that actually is the case, then it would make sense that miraculous things would happen to assist them.
- Coughing Up Blood: Hana throughout the movie. We never find out exactly what she has but as the doctor only informs us that being homeless and running mad all over town is not helping the condition, we can infer that it wouldn't be anything serious if she weren't.
- Crazy Homeless People: None of the characters, really, except for the senile old man whom Gin comforts.
- Determinator: Most of the cast, but special mention goes to Gin. Despite being plastered and his antagonists being armed with crowbars, he manages to not only survive and get back the photo they took—one of the only clues to Kiyoko's home's whereabouts—from them, but runs—REPEATEDLY—to catch up with Kiyoko and his friends.
- Deus ex Machina: The driving force of the movie, and proof that Tropes Are Not Bad.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Miyuki stabs her father over a lost cat, but it’s pretty clear that was just the final straw and that there are plenty of other underlying issues there.
- Doorstop Baby
- Do They Know It's Christmas Time?
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted; when a group of gossiping women are discussing the couple the main trio are searching for, it is brought up that "sometimes you'd see bruises". One of the women initially takes pity on the wife until it's brought up that the husband was the victim, at which she's even more horrified.
- Drag Queen: Hana's former vocation. She left the biz after she attacked a heckler.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Ethnic Menial Labor: Hispanic in Japan.
- Facial Markings: It's no coincidence that Kiyoko the baby has a mole on her forehead just like the Buddha.
- Fat Girl: Played as legitimate characters. There are four handsomely-built ladies in the movie: Kiyoko the yakuza's daughter, Kiyoko the nurse, the kind Spanish-speaking mother, and Miyuki in flashback.
- In general, the characters in this film have fairly realistic body types.
- Formerly Fat: Due to living in the streets during several months, Miyuki lost a large amount of weight.
- The Fundamentalist: Miyuki's mother is a religious fundamentalist and is shown praying dramatically during one of her flashbacks.
- Girly Run: Used by Hana.
- Gossipy Hens
- Happily Adopted: Hana says she never knew her true mother and was raised by a foster mother.
- Happily Ever After: By the end of the movie, the baby is returned to its real parents, all three homeless characters have been reunited with their families, Sakiko and her husband have started over... and it turns out the trio have been carrying around a winning lottery ticket the whole time.
- Hitman with a Heart: The Hispanic assasin set out to kill the Yakuza boss at the wedding takes Miyuki hostage... to a kind Hispanic mother who breastfeeds Kiyoko and provides some comfort for Miyuki.
- In Mysterious Ways
- Infant Immortality: Of course baby Kiyoko will survive anything, including the Japanese winter.
- Interrupted Suicide: Never ones to be impolite, Japanese women take off their shoes before they plunge to their deaths.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: When Miyuki calls Hana a ‘shitty geezer’, Hana says, ‘“Shitty” is fine, but “geezer” will NOT fly!!’ and nearly assaults her. After Gin breaks them up, Miyuki corrects herself and calls her a ‘shitty... uh... hag.’ A flashback reveals that Hana once lashed out at a visitor at the bar she worked at who made the same mistake.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gin.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Miyuki. She has cat named Angel back at home and gets very angry when Gin suggests they eat some cats.
- Lighter and Softer: Hard to believe this is from the same guy who gave us Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent.
- Long-Lost Relative: Hana and her "mother" (drag mentor), Gin and his daughter, and Miyuki and her father.
- MacGuffin Girl: The baby, to some degree.
- Magic Realism
- Magnetic Plot Device: The baby again.
- Mama Bear: Hana.
- The Hispanic mother also counts, seeing as she protectively held both Kiyoko and her baby when she saw Hana.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Are the three being guided by some divine intervention? Are they just really lucky with all the Contrived Coincidence's guiding the story? When the deranged woman sees the baby talk to her is it genuine, or just a hallucination on her end? It's all left a deal ambiguous and up for the viewer to decide.
- Mission from God: Not exactly said, but with the underlying themes of Christianity, Hana's statements, and the Deus ex Machina that seems to be everywhere, God might have had something to do with it.
- Name's the Same: In-universe. The party is constantly finding itself saved by various Kiyokos.
- Ode to Joy: A J-Pop version plays over the closing credits.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. The trio meet (or already know) multiple Kiyokos by the end of the movie.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket
- Parental Abandonment: Not just the baby that they find, but Gin's abandonment of his own family.
- Queer People Are Funny: "I am a mistake made by God!"
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hana compares the relationship between her and Gin to a story about them.
- The Runaway: Miyuki. She ran away from home after stabbing her father during a fight.
- Running Gag: Hana's tendency to create haiku poems on the spot at key points of the story.
- Shout-Out: Akio Ohtsuka gets a brief cameo as a doctor.
- Much of the plot is taken straight from the John Wayne classic The Three Godfathers.
- You can see posters of Satoshi Kon's previous works on the window of the convenience store.
- Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: The entirety of the Hispanic characters' dialogue is delivered in Surprisingly Good Spanish. The boy's lines might sound a bit like translated Japanese at times, but in all it's far better Spanish than it has any reason to be.
- It helps that the actors are, most likely, naturally born Spanish speakers, of course.
- Team Dad: Gin, of the alcoholic disciplinarian but ultimately self-sacrificing variety.
- Team Mom: Hana, definitely. Her dream for most of her life was to be the mother she never had growing up.
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: However, in this film, Tokyo is a city with a shady side just like any other.
- Tokyo Tower: Seen dancing, along with other Tokyo buildings, at the start of the closing credits.
- The Tramp: All of them.
- Transsexual: Hana.
- Trashcan Bonfire
- Truth in Television: Some of the events in the movie were based on real-life incidents that occurred in Japan around the time the film was made. The scene in which Gin is beaten up by a group of teenagers was based on an similar incident involving a hobo being beaten up by teenagers. Miyuki's troubled backstory was based on an incident in which a teenage girl stabbed her father after getting into an argument with him about which TV channel they wanted to watch.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: A background event, nobody seemed to have reacted over the couple getting hit by that car...
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It appears that Miyuki's father was perpetually cold and callous to her... from her perspective, anyway.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Inverted, as Hana deliberately plays the villain to draw two characters together.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Hana and Miyuki are homeless due to believing this. Hana left home after she attacked a heckler at her foster mother's drag bar and was too ashamed to face her foster mother. Miyuki left believing her father would arrest her for stabbing him.