Tokyo Godfathers

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

Tokyo Godfathers
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$609,525[2]

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.


One Christmas Eve, three homeless people – a middle-aged alcoholic named Gin, a former drag queen named Hana, and a dependent runaway girl named Miyuki – discover an abandoned newborn while searching through the garbage. Deposited with the unnamed baby is a note asking the 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), 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 trapped under his car. The man happens to know the owner of the club where Kiyoko's mother used to work; his daughter is getting married to the club owner that day. At the wedding, 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 Latin American hitman in disguise, attempts to shoot the bride's father. The hitman kidnaps Miyuki and the baby and takes them back to his home. There, Miyuki befriends the hitman's wife and shows her some pictures of her family.

Hana searches for Miyuki and Kiyoko while Gin takes care of an old 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. Meanwhile, Hana finds the girls and they go off to find a place to stay.

They go to Hana's former club. Gin, who was rescued by another member of the club, is also there. The trio sets 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 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. Meanwhile, 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 the baby. 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, thinking, in her grief, the baby was hers. As Sachiko is about to jump off the building, 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.


  • Tōru Emori (Japanese) and Darren Pleavin (English)[5] as Gin (ギン); a gambling addict and former bicycle shop owner who claims to have been a bicycle racer. He ran away from his family when his debts became too great. His daughter, a nurse, shares the name of the newfound baby Kiyoko.
  • Yoshiaki Umegaki (Japanese) and Russel Wait (English)[5] as Hana (ハナ); a former drag queen who became homeless following the death of a former boyfriend. Hana was also an abandoned child, and is the most sympathetic to Kiyoko's plight and is the one who gives the baby her name.
  • Aya Okamoto (Japanese) and Candice Moore (English)[5] as Miyuki (ミユキ); a runaway high school student who fled home following a violent argument with her father.
  • Shōzō Iizuka as Ōta (太田); a yakuza boss who the main characters save from being crushed by his car. In gratitude, he invites them to his daughter's wedding reception.
  • Seizō Katō as Mother (母さん, Kaa-san); the proprietor of the gay bar Hana was formerly employed in.
  • Hiroya Ishimaru as Yasuo (泰男); Sachiko's husband and the one who left Kiyoko at the garbage dump.
  • Ryūji Saikachi as an old homeless man who is discovered by Gin. He entrusts Gin with the disposal of a small red bag before passing away.
  • Yūsaku Yara as Miyuki's father; a policeman in charge of searching for the missing baby Kiyoko, who was separated from her family.
  • Kyōko Terase as Sachiko (幸子); a woman who claims to be Kiyoko's mother.
  • Mamiko Noto as Gin's daughter; a nurse who is also named Kiyoko.
  • Satomi Kōrogi as the daughter of the yakuza boss Ōta, who is also named Kiyoko.
  • Akio Ōtsuka as a doctor engaged to Gin's daughter Kiyoko.
  • Rikiya Koyama as Arao (新郎); Ōta's son-in-law who was collecting debt from Gin.
  • Inuko Inuyama as Kurumizawa (胡桃沢); a resident of Sachiko's former neighborhood.
  • Kanako Yahara as Yamanōchi (山之内)
  • Rie Shibata as Nekobaba (猫ババ)
  • Kōichi Yamadera as Taxi driver

Additional voices (Japanese): Nobuyuki Furuta, Masao Harada, Bin Horikawa, Kazuaki Itō, Eriko Kawasaki, Akiko Kawase, Yuto Kazama, Tsuguo Mogami, Mitsuru Ogata, Chiyako Shibahara, Toshitaka Shimizu, Yoshinori Sonobe, Akiko Takeguchi, Hidenari Umezu, Atsuko Yuya


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."

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.[6] 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.[6]


The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 90%, based on 67 reviews, with a rating average of 7.07/10. The critical consensus states, “Beautiful and substantive, Tokyo Godfathers adds a moving -- and somewhat unconventional -- entry to the animated Christmas canon.”[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.[8]

See also


  1. "Interview Satoshi Kon" (in French). Catsuka. October 18, 2006. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  2. "Tokyo Godfathers (2004) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  3. Hunt, Leon (2010). Tauris World Cinema : East Asian Cinemas : Exploring Transnational Connections on Film. I.B Tauris. p. 122. ISBN 9781845116149.
  4. {{cite web | url= | title=Excellence Award - TOKYO GOD FATHERS | Award | Animation Division | 2003 [7th] | Japan Media Arts Festival Archive}}
  5. "Tokyo Godfathers". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  6. Napier, Susan (2008). "From Spiritual Fathers to 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.
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