Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tokyo Godfathers Part One

Yesterday I outlined my six criteria for reviewing (I actually prefer the term judging) movies. If you were one of the 6.5 billion people minus one people who did not read my blog yesterday, please refer to that post right the fuck here.

Last weekend I saw Tokyo Godfathers, a Japanese animation movie by director Satoshi Kon, who is apparently famous for some other movies I haven't seen (yet). Look at the poster!

I especially wanted to write about this movie hot on the heels of yesterday's post for a few reasons. One, it's fresh in my mind. Two, I like seeing if I can reign in my pretentiousness enough to keep my posts under 500 words. And three, because if someone asked me, "Is Tokyo Godfathers good?" I couldn't answer with a simple yes or no. So let's get into into it.

Easy questions first. For starters, this movie is very, very well made. One of the core components of making a good movie -- if not the most important thing -- is the ability to draw the audience in and make them forget that they're actually watching a movie. The problem with Japanese anime however, is an over-reliance on the most obnoxious cliches and tropes in all of moviedom, without the slightest hint of self-awareness. For example, I also recently watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and the number of times the movie really, really wanted me to see that high school's girl's underwear made me very uncomfortable. There's no lampshading it either; If the main character would have, just once, just once said, "You know, I need to start buying pants" well, the movie would still make me uncomfortable, but it would at least be more bearable.

The great thing about Tokyo Godfathers though is that there are no annoying Japanese anime tropes in this movie. So, surprisingly, I can't recommend this to typical fans of Japanese anime. This really plays out as a drama movie that just happens to be animated. I'm not sure about Satoshi Kon's other movies, but this one is actually pretty realistic, and that makes it accessible...except...

Would I watch this again? Well, I wouldn't hate watching it again, but the movie is just so dark.

But I did really enjoy watching it. About halfway through, I started to imagine that there was no way this movie would have a 100% happy ending. The question then became exactly what ratio of hopeful/depressing the ending was going to be, and that kept me interested in the characters. How many of them were going to die, how many relationships were going to be ruined, how many families would be completely torn apart; It kept me engaged the entire time. I guess I should get into the plot now, shouldn't I? How many words do I have left? 50? Goddammit, why do I talk so fucking much?

So, alright, I'll talk more about this movie later, because it's going to take a lot to get through the tone of the movie, the character known as "Hana", animation dealing with dark subjects in general, and whether or not this movie actually contributed to anything.

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