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By D.W. Smith | January 11, 2004

I don’t usually go out of my way to see Japanese animated films. There’s a subset of people out there who hate Anime films because A) They’ve haven’t seen one, or B) The HAVE seen one. Years ago I went to see one called “Fist of the Northstar”—dreadful piece of garbage that was. Then I gave the Cowboy Bebop movie a try, and, well, I guess you have to have seen the TV show. But lately, guys like Hayao Miyazaki of “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away” fame and now Satoshi Kon have shown me that there is some fire under all that smoke.

“Tokyo Godfathers” is a sweet little movie about three homeless folks who happen upon a baby in a Tokyo trash dumpster. It’s not your normal subject for Japanese Animation, which sets it apart right away. The three homeless protagonists could not be more different: an older man who’s lost his family, a young gay transvestite, and a young girl, all have formed an unlikely bond. When they find a baby, it’s the transvestite, Hana, who determines to keep the child, but concedes to the other two, Gin and Miyuki, that if they can find the mother of this miracle baby and get her to realize the errors of her ways, they will give the baby back to her.

And so the three smelly surrogates go on a search for the baby’s mother. The story takes some kooky turns and, at times, delves into the supernatural. This baby truly is a miracle baby. Along the journey, we find that each of the well-written characters has secrets, and they haven’t been completely honest with each other about their pasts. Each must come to grips with mistakes they’ve made and people they’ve harmed. And it’s all thanks to the miracle baby they call “Kiyoko.” It’s a modern-day fable with a big heart, reminding us that every human can have value, even if you don’t have an address.
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