Finding a Place to Belong: Tokyo Godfathers & the Gift of Kindness | OWLS “Miracles”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” For the OWLS blog tour’s twelfth monthly topic for 2018, “Miracles,” I wanted to feature the epitome of anime Christmas films, the one and only KING of uplifting vibes and positivity, Tokyo Godfathers!

‘Tis the season where miracles happen. For December’s theme, we will be exploring faith in anime and pop culture. We will discuss some of the miracles that enter a character’s life during their darkest moments. Some of the questions we will explore: How does a “miracle” change a person’s life? How do we define miracles? Can miracles only happen due to a legend or a mystical being? Or do miracles happen every day, but we just don’t see them? We hope that you enjoy this holiday season!

– the OWLS Team

We’re down to the end here, my friends! One last OWLS post for 2018, and I’m thrilled to finish on a film so full of heart that there truly isn’t a Christmas experience like it. Thanks again Lyn for the prompt—enjoy!~

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A brief, spoiler-free discussion on the 2003 film “Tokyo Godfathers,” animated by Madhouse, and both directed by and based on the original story by the late Satoshi Kon.

A Babe in a Manger

Christmas Eve. A glistening white snow has fallen upon Tokyo, and as three homeless friends are rummaging in a dump for a Christmas present, they discover a newborn baby. Despite having nothing to their name, the three take in this pure little girl which they name “Kiyoko.” Knowing they can’t support the child on their own for long, however, they take to the streets in search of Kiyoko’s mother, based on the small amount of info they gathered from her meager belongings.

But just as how the night before Christmas is the longest for any young child, these three poor vagabonds become entangled in a wild series of events involving a kidnapping, crime, death, a fight between rival gangs, and a crazy chase throughout the vast city.

A transvestite, an alcoholic, and a runaway teenager may make for an unlikely team, but what binds them together in their search for where this baby belongs is their inherent goodwill and incredible heart. By finally raising their heads toward the future, they are also able to confront their pasts, coming just a little bit closer to finding their own place in this wild world—a Christmas miracle in itself.

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I love Satoshi Kon works, but in some ways I also hate them. His vivid artistry, unique directing style, and powerful storytelling are masterful (and totally iconic). But while he knows how to blow my mind and make me see the world in a whole new way, he also knows exactly how to make me feel weak, shameful, and powerless as a human being.

Tokyo Godfathers is very much a human story. It features three troubled individuals living in an unequal, unfinished world, and although they finally address the error of their ways, their individual revelations occur only after being ridiculed, accused, and exposed for the true sins of their past. (Also, they get physically and emotionally beat up throughout the film’s entirety, which is met with frequent crying and wailing in the Tokyo slums.)

Just as how the film is praised for its soulful story, inventive directing, lively character animation, and holiday cheer, it also, fittingly for Kon, makes the viewer feel pity for the cast and anger towards the socioeconomic imbalance in the world, yet helpless to do anything about it! But maybe there is something we can do—after all, this wouldn’t be a post about the joy of miracles if it ended in in heartache and tragedy.

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Coincidence, Miracles, & Faith

Equally touching as it is prophetic, there are a stunning number of what can only be called “coincidences” that stack up in Tokyo Godfathers. I mean, I can understand running into “the one” person you need to see in the sprawling Tokyo cityscape as a means of plot convenience, but man, talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Over the course of the film, our three homeless friends stumble into ordeal after ordeal, yet persist out of the goodness in their hearts—and fate, or more appropriately here, God, assists in their noble endeavor. How does Hana always know the right path to take? How does Miyuki seem to constantly entangle herself in trouble, yet flee at just the right time? And how does Gin manage to stay alive? Simply, it is God who is watching over our homeless friends, and his subtle roles and appearances can be found in the backgrounds. Perhaps he could be keeping tabs on them from on high through a billboard depicting a crying woman; other times, God manifests in more illusionist ways: walls and windows that create faces, figurines with pulsating stares, and angel statues representing guidance.

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In these mystical, foreshadowing ways that Satoshi Kon has mastered through cinematography, Kon transforms one of the film’s biggest critiques—its over-dependence on an unnaturally high number of plot conveniences—into a powerful, compelling theme: faith and goodwill towards others are rewarded with protection against the unknown.

Faith plays a strong role in Tokyo Godfathers. Whether in the opening Christmas Eve church sermon or the biblical motifs scattered throughout the film, Kon makes it clear that those who believe in the good in others are granted love and respect in turn—which is interesting given that Satoshi Kon supposedly wasn’t a religious man. More importantly, kindness isn’t a virtue limited to religion. Kon teaches us that anyone can be kind, and that empathy and altruism can be found in the rarest of places . . .

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Three Wise *Homeless* Men

Ok, so they’re technically not all “men,” seeing as how Hana identifies as a transwoman, but the motif still holds. As the holy scriptures dictate, Gin, Hana, and Miyuki stumble upon a babe in a dumpster, but instead of bringing Kiyoko gifts, our three wise men find her a home. What we eventually find out, however, is that the baby isn’t the only one suffering from displacement. Each in their own way, Gin, Hana, and Miyuki can’t go back to their previous way of life, and that dissolution has led them to be homeless both in the physical and mental sense.

But life has a funny way of dealing with such situations. In a tale that is equal parts dramatic as it is comedic, our homeless trio is predestined to find a sense of belonging so long as they confront the shadows of their past and persist through the present, to which they certainly do. As a new fan of the film, I just love these three silly goons!! Miyuki’s rebellious teenage side shines in her fiery dialogues with Gin. And as if they needed more reason for conflict, Gin and Hana never cease bickering with one another, much like a married old couple. A drunk, a homo, and a teen girl—who would’ve thought such a cast could be so enjoyable to watch!

In all seriousness, I especially adored Hana’s kind, motherly nature. Hana is also highly intuitive, as she’s always able to pick the right direction to take, as well as describe exactly what Kiyoko’s mother would be doing upon finding her. As the situation calls for her to sacrifice more and more, we see how willing, courageous, and caring she truly is despite suffering from (and hiding) her own personal sickness. She draws a tragic relation to the story about the Blue Demon, and knowing full-well that she, too, must eventually go away, Hana’s challenge to care for the baby she’s always wanted likely is her final test to determine her fate in the afterlife. And given that final leap of faith at the end where she literally jumps off a building to save the child—an event which can only be called miraculous—it becomes clear that she definitely passed the test. Bold and brazen, loud and proud, funny as heck and never afraid to stick out her neck for the ones she loves most, Hana is a gift to us all.

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A Christmas Miracle

As the old aphorism goes, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take,” and if there’s anything to be learned from Tokyo Godfathers, it’s that the good and bad in life comes and goes, but we always have the opportunity to be kind to others.

As Gin comes to terms with his gambling and alcohol addictions, he takes ownership of the actions in his life and becomes determined to not mess up the second chance he’s been given with his daughter.

For Miyuki, she accepts the terrible things she did to her father tries to seek him out to apologize and mend their bond.

Hana is finally granted the opportunity to be a mother—to care for a child, to love it, and to provide warmth for it in the harsh winter cold.

And lastly, a mother learns what it’s like to lose her child—to lose everything that mattered to her—as well as what it feels like to miraculously get it back.

With justice and dignity intertwined with love and hope on this eventful Christmas Eve, Satoshi Kon performs Christmas miracles and delivers a story to stand the test of time—an invaluable lesson on what it truly means to be human in this wild, wild world.

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“Being able to speak freely is the lifeblood of love.” — Hana


Afterword

To be honest with you all, I’d never actually watched Tokyo Godfathers until just the other day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely been wanting to watch it for a long time now, but if it weren’t for this post, I likely wouldn’t have seen it as early as I did—and I’m sure glad I spent that cold wintry day on my bed eating a bowl of hot soup and watching such a heartwarming movie. Guys, Tokyo Godfathers is fantastic, a “Caffe Mocha” classic for sure and the perfect family friendly anime film if you’re willing to share the holy word. This isn’t an overly complex film by any means—it’s about simple emotions, a simple act of kindness, and how even the smallest of efforts can snowball and impact the lives of others.

Spend this holiday season with someone you love. Do something nice for someone else, even if you get something out of it, too. I encourage you all to dig deep within yourself—as this film has done for me—and go out there and make a difference in someone else’s life. As I always like to forward on, we only get one of these things, one life, so be sure to take all the chances you can get. And be kind to others—a simple conviction to kindness will surround you with good company and food aplenty, that I can assure you!

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This concludes my December 19th entry in the OWLS “Miracles” blog tour. Dale (That Baka Blog) went right before me and wrote a heartfelt post on one of, if not, my favorite anime film: Kiki’s Delivery Service!  Now, look out for Jack (The Aniwriter) this upcoming Friday, December 21st! Thank you so much for following my OWLS journey this year—I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing for every single month, and I’m looking forward to all the incredible topics to be written for in 2019! ‘Till next time, Happy Holidays!~

– Takuto, your host

Takuto WILL Be Participating in The 12 Days of Anime! | Blogmas 2017 Introduction

Hey guys, been a while!

Initially, I was just planning on sliding through finals week, then returning to the blogging scene for my OWLS post. Well, that OWLS post doesn’t come out for another week or two, and with my last final being just next Tuesday, I thought I’d hop aboard the holiday hype train with the “12 Days of Anime” since it technically starts next Thursday, the 14th! My version is a little different, though. Or rather, it has very few rules or restrictions (partially because I’m super lazy to impose order upon something that, if actually accomplished, is a feat in itself). It’ll be 12 straight days of blogging, which is very different than the typical NOTHINGNESS that I usually post. But what can you expect during these 12 days?

  1. Favorite anime moments from 2017—these will include the top-tier scenes that I bore witness to in the anime I watched this. They may include moments from simulcasts, or even shows that I just now got around to seeing (like Ergo Proxy, for one). They’ll usually include spoilers, but I’ll warn you in advance. 🙂
  2. Best anime-related happenings that occurred this year—from special events to the announcement of sequels or English releases, these will be celebrations of accomplishments from this year relating to anime. AKA it’s “Which anime news updates were my favorite!”
  3. Full-series reviews of shows I watched from 2017—it’s just as it sounds, and it might include titles from both the backlog or those that are hot off the press.
  4. Stuff about me—not sure how much these may encompass right now (for all I know, I might already have enough material to work with), but these kinds of posts are for, in the event, when I don’t feel like writing a review (which is often, because, you know, I’m lazy). They could include long-withheld blog award nominations or tag posts. You’ll just have to wait and see!

From Thursday, the 14th all the way up through Christmas Day, that Monday, the 25th, I’ll be posting DAILY, and though they may be short posts, it’ll still be my way of interacting with you all before the new year arrives—in that sense, it’s as if Takuto’s Anime Cafe will be open from dawn to dusk, welcoming all who are looking for warm drinks and conversation throughout the holidays!

Each day, I will also be looking back on the OWLS blog tour posts by month, starting CLEAR BACK IN MARCH HOLY CRAP (because I procrastinated on reading those). Lastly, anyone remember when I tweeted out my iPhone home screen, which was littered with bins of posts to read by all of you? Yeah, I’m going through those one day at a time, too, because I WILL NOT LEAVE ANY STONE UNTURNED FROM THIS YEAR. It’s all or nothing, and this will clear the slate for all of the great reads in the new year. Looking forward to all that you guys will be writing, by the way.

Lastly, I DO happen to have a couple posts planned, those mainly being my December OWLS entry and one big-ass comparative analysis on the works of Makoto Shinkai. It’ll likely be my last big blogging project this year, so please look forward to that!


Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Takuto, your host at my Anime Cafe, a small underground shack in the vastness of the web that caters hopefully heartwarming reviews and promotes relaxation. I post infrequently—with no schedule to contain me whatsoever–but I hope you still enjoy the things I write and the random stuff I say, be it an in-depth story analysis or about the latest obsession plaguing me.

To celebrate the holidays this year and honor all of my long-time customers (and the new ones, like you, perhaps!), I’ll be opening the doors for 12 consecutive days. Expect a flurry of posts, a messy mish-mash of all of different writing styles that make me, well, me! I can’t wait to follow any of you on your own “12 Days of Anime,” too, so be sure to comment below if you are starting one! Let’s usher in the new year as we anibloggers always do—by reading, writing, and celebrating all of the friends we’ve made, and the long-lasting friendships to come! Until December 14th, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Takuto’s 2015 RightStuf Holiday Haul #2

Konnichiwa minna-san, I’m back with more holiday goodies for ridiculously low prices, and just like the last haul, I’ll leave links for each of the items I purchased in case you want to pick them up – Which I, of course, encourage you to do so! Let’s get to it!

Fujoshi Rumi Volumes 1-3 (manga)

This first one is a bit odd, but I guarantee there is a good explanation. This series was recommend by my good YouTuber friend Gigi from Animepalooza. I know this name has been tossed around a bit, between Lita, myself, and others, and she’s a pretty wacky fan who is not only entertaining to watch, but also incredibly down-to-earth. Go check her out!

Only the first 3 volumes of this “hidden shoujo gem” were licensed, but she assures us that even that is enough to fully enjoy the series. They were only $3 a piece, so what are you waiting for? Get the fujoshi manga you’ve been missing!

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http://www.rightstufanime.com/Fujoshi-Rumi-Graphic-Novel-1

Ruin Explorers: Fam & Ihrie on DVD

Now this one was a complete impulse buy. It was only $7 for the entire 4-OVA-set with an English dub, and I thought I ought to give it some love. I realize that it is an ancient anime and that its rating on MAL isn’t quite recommendable, but hey, if I can get a nice mini adventure out of this bargain item then it’ll be worth more than gold to me 🙂

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http://www.rightstufanime.com/Ruin-Explorers-DVD-Complete-Collection-Hyb

Cowboy Bebop on Blu-ray

OOh, is that everybody’s favorite space cowboy I see above? You bet your sweet arse it is! My dad (and every anime fan on planet Earth) has been praising this classic for YEARS – And now I can finally watch it! I cheated and picked this up during a hot -one-day-only Amazon.com sale for ONLY $22 (now $50), but you can pick yours up on RightStuf.com for a still highly-recommendable $30. So fork over the cash, Baby — You know you want it.

http://www.rightstufanime.com/Cowboy-Bebop-Blu-ray-Complete-Series-Hyb

Seraph of the End Volumes 1-7 (manga)

I’m not a huge manga collector but when you see $5 a volume, you’d sh*t bricks, too. This was an instant must-have, as I am trying to force myself into this series (and the covers are convincing enough). I think the bundle was $33 or something like that, but OMG isn’t that a steal?! Probably my favorite pickup this entire season, and I cannot wait to dive into this universe 😀 I can’t remember whom it was I spoke to about picking up this series as a bundle, nor do I remember what you paid for it, but top that, haha!

Sadly, this was a limited time offer by Viz Media, so it is not available in the sale. You can still pick up each novel individually for what, $7.50? I still think that is decent for fresh, new manga.

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This is everything that I will include in haul #2. I will be posting one more for those interested regarding gifts I’ll receive from my siblings (we go out of our way to spoil each other it’s terrible). As it stands, my mom went ahead and paid for all of the Seraph of the End manga, so woot! Go family! I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season thus far, and I am curious: Have you gotten anything cool and/or anime-related that you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments, I’d love to know! Alright, I’m going to finish drafting a review or two, until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host