Writer: Jonathan Sullivan
Original Post Date: 9/21/2009
Anime is a sub genre of entertainment that has taken America by storm this past decade. Usually consisting of bright colors, whacky storylines, and occasionally some "sexiness", anime lovers are looked as nerds and losers. I'm here to divulge to you a secret: for the most part, they are. BUT, that could be said for any superfan of anything: wrestling nerds, music nerds, TV nerds, the list goes on. Personally, I have never really been into anime, other than a passing interest in the Pokemon TV show in my youth. Over the summer, my buddy The Dane Train introduced me to a film called Armitage the 3rd and from there, I have slowly began to take anime more seriously and not hate it as much as the rest of the "normal" people do. While I edge towards the more adult science fiction anime films, Tokyo Godfathers, a film released in 2003, caught my eye and took a slot on my Netflix queue. As you can expect from it being in the "Watch This!" section, I absolutely loved it.
The plot is as follows: three homeless people (an alcoholic former cyclist, a runaway teen, and a transvestite) are rummaging through the trash in Tokyo, Japan on Christmas Eve where they run across a baby that had been thrown away. Still alive, the three decide to return the baby to their mother, and in the process, they learn about each other and themselves as people.

What instantly drew me into this film was the fact that was unlike any anime film I had ever seen. I'm used to either balls out futuristic landscapes or the big eyed brightly colored anime shows. The art style in this film is very straight forward and normal. There's no real zaniness to it, although some anime staples do show up (big drops when someone cries, etc). It's pleasing to the eyes and simplistic, which is a nice change.

The story itself is also very captivating and in all honesty, could have been done as a live-action movie. There are no set pieces that called for it to be animation, the plot is the plot: three friends returning a baby to its mother. I fell in love with it though, because the three characters are very distinct and interesting and go through their own arcs. The transvestite provides most of the comic relief and at the same time, is the most unbalanced of the three. The main character, the former cyclist turned alcoholic Gin, is the most interesting of the three, and we watch his redemption unfold. He is both reprehensable and sad, which is a quality I like in film characters (Robin Williams in World's Greatest Dad, for example).

This is an anime film with mass appeal. It is simple, it is beautiful, and it's a great real world story. If you hate anime, this is still worth a watch, as it will prove that anime is more than scantily clad women running around shooting chickens out of a gun and yelling "MYORKA!" at random intervals.
 





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