In 2007 it was Russia and Ukraine. 2008 was the year for India and Pakistan. 2009 brought a Dickensian Christmas. For 2010 Korea, China and Japan are the adopted countries.
As I’ve been crafting decorations for my Tokyo-Pop Christmas, making gifts, and sending many emails, Netflix has brought me many hours of wonderful seasonal entertainment. Die Hard, Die Harder, Batman Returns, The Office UK Christmas Special, Shop Around The Corner, Reindeer Games, Poirot’s Christmas, About A Boy, and Tokyo Godfathers.
“In modern-day Tokyo, three homeless people’s lives are changed forever when they discover a baby girl at a garbage dump on Christmas Eve. As the New Year fast approaches, these three forgotten members of society band together to solve the mystery of the abandoned child and the fate of her parents. Along the way, encounters with seemingly unrelated events and people force them to confront their own haunted pasts, as they learn to face their future, together” – from the official site here.
A Christmas themed anime with homeless protagonists?! The seemingly random combination of ideas, cultures, and themes was intriguing enough to get me to watch and the amazing execution of all these elements still has me processing.
This film is a brilliant study in dynamics. Character, plot, and dialog are elements of writing. The use of color, movement, and sound are elements of directing. The majority of pop-culture dreck is so shoddily mashed together that one or two elements become the focus and the rest are forgotten. (Yes, I’m talking to you – 3D Summer blockbuster.) So when a film is well crafted, the seamless connectivity of those dynamics becomes something more than the individual elements; It becomes art.
Throughout the film, lighting and weather effects serve to create incredible dimension in the drawn world and each frame seems to naturally take shape from an intelligent and mature sense of mise en scène. The directors also have such a firm understanding of their story they’re able play with the pace of the action; slowing down to create memorable character driven moments and heightening the sense of adventure with rapid inter-cut action sequences.
For all its art and humor, Tokyo Godfathers doesn’t shy away from the gritty nature of animated films intended for adult audiences but uses these moments to propel the story with a domino style narrative. As the protagonists steadily reveal back-story and fade through parallel events, the information serves only to enhance the main plot in a singular, forward moving time-line.
As I watched the credits I realized I was wrong about this film being random. Tokyo Godfathers is a well crafted and thoroughly composed story filled with masterful touches. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I’m grateful it was a part of my Christmas experience.