Bangalore Film Society

`The Tokyo Godfathers' – A Critical Review


`The Tokyo Godfathers' is a brilliant, clever, moving masterpiece. Most animation films have a clear cut target audience; children. This movie however stood out starkly among the crowd appealing to both the young and old. Although animated, it seemed so real. It's one of those movies that give's you the feeling that it couldn't have been made more perfectly than it was. The story was pacy right from the beginning. Three homeless people wandering the numerous by lanes of Tokyo, eating whatever scrap they get as food and spending cold nights at abandoned buildings and godowns. Their lives change for the better when they discover a baby, abandoned in a dump of cartons and waste paper. The essence of the movie being that love moves the world and that love is all we need. The subtext being various issues related to it like-loneliness, alcoholism, domestic violence, gambling, street gangs, crime syndicates, homosexuality, child theft at hospitals and so on. The filmmaker was able to craftily intersperse all these issues and much more to give the movie a knock out punch. The greatest fear for most people conscious or sub-conscious is the fear of being loved, the fear of being rejected and not being accepted in society. To end up on the streets, to be a worthless shit, a `homeless' in the words of the character Gin is very agonizing indeed.

The element of humor in the movie is present right from the start to the end. Be it the constant nagging of Hana or the ranting of Gin. The hair splitting comical fights between Gin and Miyuki or the crazy bicycle chase given by a spirited Gin coupled with Hana's palpitations in the van-bicycle-car chase is really amusing. The poor cabbie guy's anguish on seeing Hana each time; really enhances the scenes. The story gets over on quite a sentimental note with a few reunions for all. The deeper underlying issues, however is for all of us to ponder over. The plight of street children being one of the most important ones the movie has highlighted from a plethora of issues.

"An official estimates the number of street and working children in Bangalore at 90,000 as per the study conducted by NGO's. Of these, approximately 45,000 are homeless. It is also estimated that Bangalore puts on an average 20 to 30 children by train or bus everyday in search of new and promising horizon. According to Varghese Koatungal, Executive Director of BOSCO, the number of fresh children who came to Bangalore this year is over 3557 including 2202 to the Central railway station and 895 to the majestic bus stand".- from The Quadrangle (a KJC publication) `Birds Without Nests by Jose Kumar.

The other important issue being that of homosexuals, otherwise known as the third gender and often discriminated against by society. Most of them end up begging on the streets, prostitution and dancing at marriages.

Hana is the typical homosexual character we encounter in our everyday lives in India-brash, loud mouthed, nagging, hurt, yet humane. Hana's outbursts that she didn't want to see the baby sent from one foster home to another and not feel a moment of love was one of the highpoints in the movie. Hana's maternal longings even though she has not experienced motherhood make's me wonder whether it is an instinctual longing for some people.

When people have no time to listen to others problems, when a helping hand is nowhere in sight, all the pent up emotions if not addressed, if not given a vent to properly can lead to violent outbursts.

That is exactly what happened to Miyuki when she stabbed her own father.

Almost everyday or two there is a news about a dowry death, a suicide or some form of harassment against women in Bangalore that is in the newspapers. Thanks to the ban on online lottery gambling to an extent has been curbed in Bangalore. The government's myopic vision and policies however continue as the other forms of lottery are not banned. The revenue being collected from it can be forsaken for the larger good of people.

With a nice twist in the end the movie kept I am sure, most of us guessing real hard. The haiku (a short form of Japanese poem) added the polishing touches to a few scenes.

All in all a beautiful movie that made me laugh, cry and left an imprint deep down inside. Kudos to the Bangalore Anime Club for the brilliant selection and for enlightening us on a very cool but less popular genre of cinema-anime, thanks a ton.