Who would have guessed that the greatest animated Christmas story would be an anime set in Tokyo? I would have had my doubts before seeing Satoshi Kon’s “Tokyo Godfathers” (2003). Unlike the majority of Kon’s filmography, the film’s relatively simple plot centers on three homeless friends who upon finding an abandoned baby set out on a quest to track down the parents. The homeless protagonists are not mere stereotypes but complex individuals with unique backstories which is especially remarkable since homeless people continue to be underrepresented in films (despite growing numbers). Like other Christmas fables, it has its share of sentimentality and reliance on convenient coincidences (ie. miracles), but it’s elevated by beautiful artwork and a finely crafted blend of realism, humor, action and earned emotional uplift. This was only Satoshi Kon’s third feature production and his penultimate film. Kon passed away much too soon from pancreatic cancer on August 24, 2010 at the age of 46.
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