Tokyo Godfathers

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Tokyo Godfathers
Tokyo Godfathers (Movie Poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySatoshi Kon
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story bySatoshi Kon
Music by
CinematographyKatsutoshi Sugai
Edited by
Distributed bySony Pictures Entertainment Japan
Release date
Running time
92 minutes
Budget$2.4 million[1]
Box office$847,106[2]

Tokyo Godfathers (東京ゴッドファーザーズ, Tōkyō Goddofāzāzu) is a 2003 Japanese tragicomedy adventure anime film directed by Satoshi Kon loosely based on Peter B. Kyne's novel Three Godfathers.[3]

Tokyo Godfathers was the third animated film directed by Kon and the second which he both wrote and directed. Keiko Nobumoto, noted for being the creator of the Wolf's Rain series and a head scriptwriter for Cowboy Bebop, co-wrote the script with Kon.

Tokyo Godfathers received an Excellence Prize at the 2003 Japan Media Arts Festival.[4] It also won Best Animation Film at the 58th Mainichi Film Awards.[5][6]


One Christmas Eve after watching a children's performance of the nativity scene, three homeless people – a middle-aged alcoholic named Gin, a transgender woman named Hana, and a dependent teenage runaway girl named Miyuki – discover an abandoned newborn while searching through the garbage for presents. Deposited with the unnamed baby is a note asking the unknown finder to take good care of her and a bag containing clues to the parents' identity. The trio sets out to find the baby's parents. The baby is named Kiyoko (清子) by Hana, based on the Japanese translation of Silent Night literally meaning "pure child", as she is found on Christmas Eve. Outside a cemetery, the group encounters a high-ranking yakuza boss trapped under his car. The man happens to know the owner of the club where Kiyoko's mother used to work; his daughter is going to be marrying the club's owner that day. At the wedding reception, the groom tells them that the baby's mother is a former bar girl named Sachiko. He gives them Sachiko's address, but the party is interrupted when a maid, revealed to be a Latino hitman in disguise, attempts to shoot the bride's father. The hitman kidnaps Miyuki and baby Kiyoko while holding them hostage at gunpoint and takes them back to his home. There, Miyuki befriends the hitman's wife who happens to have a child of her own and they begin bonding (despite their language barrier). While looking through old photo albums, Miyuki tearfully confesses to fleeing her home after stabbing her over-controlling father Ishida when her beloved cat Angel went missing (believing that he had gotten rid of it).

Hana searches for Miyuki and Kiyoko while Gin takes care of an elderly homeless man who is dying in the street. After giving Gin a little red bag, the old man peacefully passes away. Some teenagers show up and beat up Gin and the dead old man's corpse. Meanwhile, Hana finds the girls and they go off to find a place to stay. They go to Angel Tower, a club where Hana had worked at before being quitting her job for assaulting a rude and intoxicated customer years ago. Gin, who was rescued by another member of the club, is also there. While there, it's learned that Hana had become homeless when her lover Ken had died from injuring himself after slipping on a bar of soap in the bathroom. The trio set out to find Sachiko's house, but they discover that it has been torn down. They are informed of the unhappy relationship between Sachiko and her husband, who is a gambling alcoholic. The group rests at a store until they are told to leave by the clerk. Hana collapses, and is taken by Gin and Miyuki to the hospital. Once at the hospital, Gin finds his estranged daughter, who is also named Kiyoko, working as a nurse. Hana berates Gin in front of his daughter and storms out of the hospital, with Miyuki following behind with baby Kiyoko in hand. Hana and Miyuki find Sachiko about to jump off a bridge. Sachiko insists that her husband got rid of the baby without her knowledge, and that they return the baby to her.

Gin finds Sachiko's husband, who confirms a TV report Gin saw earlier that Kiyoko was actually stolen by Sachiko from the hospital. They chase after Sachiko and Kiyoko. After an intense car chase, Miyuki chases Sachiko to the top of a building. Sachiko reveals she became pregnant in hopes it would bring her closer to her husband. When her baby was stillborn, she decided to kidnap Kiyoko from the hospital's nursery, thinking, in her grief, the baby was hers. As Sachiko is about to jump off the building intending to commit suicide with Kiyoko in her hands, her husband comes out of his apartment, located just across the street, and begs her to start over with him. Sachiko jumps off nevertheless, but Miyuki manages to catch her before she falls, but then Sachiko accidentally drops Kiyoko. Hana jumps off the building after Kiyoko, catches the baby, and lands safely due to a miraculous gust of wind. Hana, Miyuki, and Gin are taken to the hospital. Miyuki hands Gin his cigarettes and drops the old man's small red bag on the floor, revealing a winning lottery ticket. Kiyoko's real parents want to ask the trio to become her godparents. When a police inspector introduces them to the trio, the inspector is revealed to be Miyuki's father.


Tokyo Godfathers cast
Character Japanese English
Animax/ Red Angel Media[7] GKIDS/ NYAV Post (2019)[8][9]
Gin Tooru Emori Darren Pleavin Jon Avner
Hana Yoshiaki Umegami Russel Wait Shakina Nayfack
Miyuki Aya Okamoto Candice Moore Victoria Grace
Kiyoko Satomi Koorgi Kari Wahlgren
Oota Shouzou Iizuka Jamieson Price
Mother Seizou Katou Kate Bornstein
Yasuo Hiroya Ishimaru Kirk Thornton
Homeless Man Ryuuji Saikachi David Manis
Ishida Yuusaku Yara Crispin Freeman
Sachiko Kyouko Terase Larissa Gallagher
Gin's daughter Kiyoko Mamiko Noto Erica Schroeder
Oota's daughter Kiyoko Satomi Kourogi
Doctor Akio Ootsuka Jamieson Price
Arao Rikiya Koyama Michael Sinterniklaas
Kurumizawa Inuko Inuyama Philece Sampler
Yamanouchi Kanako Yahara Philece Sampler
Cat Lady Rie Shibata Erica Schroeder
Taxi Driver Kouichi Yamadera Marc Thompson

Additional voices[edit]

Japanese: Akiko Kawase, Akiko Takeguchi, Atsuko Yuya, Bin Horikawa, Chiyako Shibahara, Eriko Kawasaki, Hidenari Umezu, Kazuaki Itou, Masao Harada, Mitsuru Ogata, Nobuyuki Furuta, Toshitaka Shimizu, Tsuguo Mogami, Yoshinori Sonobe, Yuuto Kazama

English (GKIDS)[9]: Crispin Freeman, David Manis, Erica Schroeder, Jaden Waldman, Jamieson Price, Jordan Cole, Kirk Thornton, Lexie Foley, Marc Thomspon, Michael Sinterniklaas, Orlando Rios, Philece Sampler


The film puts an emphasis on the theme of "coincidences". Movie critic George Peluranee notes that "Tokyo Godfathers is a film that shows the small yet significant ties that each of us have with supposed strangers, and tells well the story of miracles, family, love, and forgiveness."[citation needed]

Susan Napier points out that Tokyo Godfathers is part of a trend in anime and manga as depicting families in an increasingly dark fashion, showcasing the problems with traditional families, and attempts by people to construct a "pseudo-family" out of an increasingly fragmented and isolating modern Japanese society.[10] It is put forth that despite the seeming criticisms of traditional families throughout the film, it ends with a more conservative feeling as everyone returns to their traditional/original families. Despite its seemingly traditional ending, the film offers a more radical version of family. Throughout the story these three homeless vagabonds unknowingly form a "pseudo-family" to protect themselves from the outside world and to overcome their personal demons.[10]


This movie was released in North America by Sony Pictures on December 29, 2003 in an unsuccessful attempt to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.[11] The movie was released on sub-only DVD on April 13, 2004,[12] and they planned to use DTS for the DVD, but was ultimately scrapped.[13] Announced on December 19, 2019, international animation licensor, GKIDS, in partnership with the original US distributor Destination Films, released the movie on March 9, 2020 with a brand new 4K restoration and a new English dub.[14]


The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 91% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 74 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The critics consensus states, "Beautiful and substantive, Tokyo Godfathers adds a moving – and somewhat unconventional – entry to the animated Christmas canon."[15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[16] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, calling it "harrowing and heartwarming."[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Interview Satoshi Kon" (in French). Catsuka. October 18, 2006. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  2. ^ "Tokyo Godfathers (2004) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Hunt, Leon (2010). Tauris World Cinema : East Asian Cinemas : Exploring Transnational Connections on Film. I.B Tauris. p. 122. ISBN 9781845116149.
  4. ^ "Excellence Award - TOKYO GOD FATHERS | Award | Animation Division | 2003 [7th] | Japan Media Arts Festival Archive".
  5. ^ Kon, Satoshi (2015). The Art of Satoshi Kon. Tribute from Darren Aronofsky (First ed.). Milwaukie, OR. p. 142. ISBN 978-1-61655-741-6. OCLC 896980881.
  6. ^ "毎日映画コンクール 第58回(2003年)". 毎日新聞 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  7. ^ "Tokyo Godfathers". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  8. ^ Sherman, Jennifer (February 13, 2020). "GKIDS Announces New English Dub Cast for Satoshi Kon's Tokyo Godfathers Film". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Grace, Victoria (March 12, 2020). "Go team!😊 #TokyoGodfathers @GKIDSfilms @nyav_post @stephaniesheh @MSinter @Shakeenz @jonavner". Twitter. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Napier, Susan (2008). "From Spiritual Fathers to Tokyo Godfathers". In Akiko Hashimoto; John W. Traphagan (eds.). Imagined Families, Lived Families. New York: SUNY Press. pp. 33–49. ISBN 978-0-7914-7578-2.
  11. ^ Macdonald, Christopher (October 30, 2003). "Tokyo Godfathers theatrical release". Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  12. ^ "Tokyo Godfathers on DVD April 13th". February 23, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  13. ^ Macdonald, Christopher (February 3, 2004). "Tokyo Godfathers DVD Release". Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  14. ^ @GKIDSfilms (December 19, 2019). "GKIDS is proud to announce the acquisition of the North American theatrical & home video rights to TOKYO GODFATHERS from Satoshi Kon" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Tokyo Godfathers (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  16. ^ "Tokyo Godfathers Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  17. ^ "Tokyo Godfathers". Retrieved April 3, 2020.

External links[edit]