What a fantastic movie. I use the word "fantastic" very selectively here. Set in Tokyo, this film stars a coterie of unconventional characters who become heroes when destiny whisks them from one part of the city to the other all in efforts to return an abandoned baby to its family. The opening scene sets the premise that through divine intervention all things are possible. Developing the Christian idea that the Lord protects his people, our heroes start low, fall lower, and somehow by the end come out on top of it all. It's hard to believe how much supernatural serendipity can be incorporated into a film without losing that sense of plausibility and reality. But Tokyo Godfathers does just that and so much more.
The runaway, cast away, rejected lives that the three characters Miyuki, Hana, and Gin are important for the overall scope of the film. From the homeless perspective, we get to see a very different Japan than in Whisper of the Heart. Food is scarce, conditions are rough, and ordinary strangers can become life threatening. We also get to see the other side of family life. Some fight crime wars, some struggle to take care of children, and others suffer from gambling addiction.
The stark reality on film made me sit up and pay attention like I would a documentary. The detail of every scene is so rich, the only thing that pulled my eyes away from the scenery was the incredibly expressive character animation. Each, our main characters especially, moves with a style and life of their own. And they never stop like their mouths that almost chatter constantly about one thing or another. Tokyo Godfathers is very dialog heavy like many animes. Somewhere in between idle chatter and expository communication, the ideas, themes, and messages of the film meanders around only to come full circle in the end. And like the dialog, every scene and all the characters come full circle to support a unified plot.
The one thing that would greatly improve Tokyo Godfathers is an equally high quality English dubbing. The richness of the visuals are muted somewhat because I was constantly reading the subtitles at the bottom of the screen. Or I missed dialog details when distracted by the visuals. Hopefully when my Japanese improves things will be different.