Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Written by Dilinna Ugochukwu
At the start of Tokyo Godfathers, we are introduced to a group of homeless people, Gin, Miyuki, and Hana. At the movie’s core, it is a story about family and some of the most forgotten and mistreated members of society coming together to form a familial connection. The premise of the movie is that on Christmas Eve while rummaging through trash and looking for gifts, the trio finds an abandoned baby, and Hana names the baby Kiyoko. Hana is very excited because she has always wanted a baby but couldn’t have one because she is transgender. Hana and the rest of the movie is a series of events set off by the trio looking for Kiyoko’s biological parents.
My favorite part of this film is the theme of finding your family. Satoshi Kon has Miyuki: a runaway 15-year-old girl, Hana: a middle-aged transwoman, and Gin: a middle-aged man and alcohol addict, all form a family together. I have always appreciated the idea of family being who you choose and I admire the trio’s relationship. Regardless of their arguments, they stick together and we see how much they love each other throughout the movie. It was also really sweet to see how the three of them included Kiyoko into their family after finding her in the garbage and eventually acting as her godparents once Kiyoko gets reunited with her biological parents.
I also loved the way that Satoshi Kon shows how the homeless are on the margins of society and how dangerous their living conditions can be. Satoshi Kon doesn’t shy away from using the locations that Miyuki, Gin, and Hana find themselves in to show how cruel people can be to homeless people. For example, there is a scene where the three of them enter a corner store to try and get some rest, only to be harassed by a drunk man because they “look homeless” to him. Another example is how cold the doctors were when Hana was sick, whichchu is shown when they don’t accommodate her at all after Gin explains that they are homeless. And on top of this, they are forced to use all of their savings when they go to the hospital because they have no insurance.
Additionally, Satoshi Kon explores each of the character’s past in a way that is built on throughout the movie. He shows how Gin’s addiction ruined his relationship with his wife and daughter. He also shows that Miyuki ran away from home because of a strained relationship with her father, specifically after they argued and she stabbed him. He additionally, explores Hana’s experiences with being abandoned as a child and never knowing her real parents, as well as her treatment as a transgender woman and how that has affected how she navigates Japan. By letting us know the characters Satoshi Kon makes the resolutions they get at the end of the film much more satisfying.
The only thing I didn’t like was the way some characters were overly antagonistic towards Hana for being transgender, but I guess that is realistic. Overall I love this movie and it is my favorite Christmas movie. I would highly recommend this movie for anyone who loves Christmas movies and stories about finding your family.