Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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Tokyo Godfathers

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3.5stars:
Final Score: :4stars:


Shout Factory has slowly been rescuing a gaggle of Anime films over the last few years, and the latest in the batch is the LONG awaited Tokyo Godfathers from director Satoshi Kon (Millenium Actress, Perfect Blue, Paprika), a movie that has been given an international release years ago, but was somehow not afforded a U.S. Blu-ray release up until now. To make things a bit more interesting, Shout Factory has got together a really nice set of extras for the disc, as well as going back to the original film elements and pulling a 4K scan to update the film just a bit (and giving it a new English dub for those who like that sort of thing).

Tokyo Godfathers deals with a subject that is pretty common in most American cities, and seems to be a problem for Tokyo as well in the last 20 years. The subject of homelessness and the plight of those out on the street. Satoshi Kon handles the serious subject matter in a mildly lighthearted way, infusing a bizarre sort of “Christmas adventure” with elements of self reflection in regards to three “bums” trying to get a young child to it’s parents for Christmas.

A trio of homeless people on Christmas Even stumble across an abandoned baby in a dark alley, stirring a sense of parental love and a desire to see the child home. Gin (Toru Emori) wants to just drop it off at the police station, but gender bender “miss” Hana (Yoshiaki Umegaki) wants to confront the parents of the child and find out WHY they would leave a defenseless child out in the cold for no reason. The last of the group is young Miyuki (Aya Okamoto), who figures going along for the ride is better than staying still. Setting out on their little “three wise men” (or in the case of Hana, wise trans-gender), the three utilize the only information that have of the child’s origin and trace it’s path back to the original parents. Along the way they learn a bit about themselves, as well as reveal to the world that just because you’re what the general public thinks of as a “bum”, doesn’t mean you’re without value.

As a huge fan of Satoshi Kon, Tokyo Godfathers is sort of a weird film for him. A lot of people consider Millenuium Actress to be his magnum opus (and I agree), but a lot have also categorized this one as his second best, just above Perfect Blue. Myself, I tend to think Perfect Blue is the better film, as the second act of Tokyo Godfathers is a bit slow and sluggish. It builds up to the final act with a lot of back story for Miyuki and Gin, but it also can be a bit of a chore to get through that 25 minute segment. That being said, the final act with Miyuki and the runaway mother is utterly fantastic, as is the subtext about the value of a human being so much more than what possessions they own. It’s sweet, tender, and just the right of amount of humor to keep it from being an utterly depressing work.

The new Blu-ray is quite stunning actually, and I’m ecstatic that the film got release on Blu-ray domestically. It’s been available in Japan for 8 years, and several years in Australia as well, so it’s been a bit strange that one of Satoshi’s best works has been kept on the back burner for so long. When Shout Factory released Millenium Actress last year I was REALLY hoping that we could finally get a release of Tokyo Godfathers, and it looks like they were already one step ahead, as this release was announced a few short months later. It may have been years later than we wanted it, but it’s about time we got an excellent release for the film in Hi-Def.


Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violent images, language and some sexual material

Video: :4stars:
Supposedly Shout Factory was able to get a 4K scan for this domestic release, but instead of it’s original 1.85:1 framing, they decided to slightly edge it to 1.78:1 (unlike the windowboxed Aussie release). Outside of the U.S. the only place that I know of that had Tokyo Godfathers was the Umbrella release from Australia, and that was kind of a problematic transfer. It was windowboxed to 1.85:1, and also was taken from an older, and much softer, master. However, this new 4K scan that Shout Factory has given it breathes new life into the film. It’s still a bit soft around the edges, but the image is free from dirt and debris, as well as home to some rather warm colors that pop through the dingy looking scenarios of the movie. Facial details are generally very pleasing, but backgrounds are a bit soft due to the art style. It’s a fairly artifact free transfer, and while it’s not going to be a “wow!!!” type of transfer thanks to the original art style and film elements, but it is a solid Blu-ray nonetheless from Shout.


Audio: :4stars:
Shout Factory has not only recreated the original Japanese track in 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless, but we have a brand new dub for the film, made specifically for this release. Now, the Dub is NOT a bad track at all (the actual sonics of the track are pretty much identical, except for the voice acting), but the Japanese dialog blows the English voice acting out of the water. It sounds too much like various people trying to sound different and obviously “voice acting” in the English dub, while the Japanese vocals are much more organic and impactful in the story. Dialog is the main focus of this one, with some solid ambient surround material to keep it from being a 3.1 mix. Surrounds mostly get a boost from the score, as does the LFE channel, which is generally pretty mild except for a few bumps in the score. It’s a solid track, and checks off most “good” check boxes easily enough, but it’s also not a powerhouse either.

Extras: :3.5stars:
• Art gallery
• An intro by K.F. Watanabe
• 2 Tokyo Godfathers trailers
• Making Of Tokyo Godfathers
• The Process Of Animation
• The Unexpected Tours
• An interview with Shakina Nayfack who played Hana in the English Dub.
• Satoshi Kon’s short animated film Ohayo
• Mixing For Surround Sound

Final Score: :4stars:

Tokyo Godfathers is a fun little romp that delves into some pretty deep and depressive material. Especially when you get into the second half of the film. It DOES have some problems with pacing (especially in that second half), but the movie really brings home the story in the 3rd act and has you smiling despite the bitter tone. Shout Factory’s new 4K scan is really solid, and it totally blows the old Aussie release out of the water in terms of video and audio, not to mention the very impressive set of extras on the disc. A good, solid, watch for anime fans.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Toru Emrori, Aya Okamoto, Hiroya Ishimaru, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Shozo Izuka, Seizo Kato
Directed by: Satoshi Kon, Shogo Furuya
Written by: Satoshi Kon, Keiko Nobumoto
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Shout Factory
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 92minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 2nd, 2020

Recommendation: Great Watch



AV Addict
Jul 13, 2017
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Thanks for the review. I greatly enjoyed this movie. Will check it out again.
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