The last few days had me rewatching, and in some cases discovering for the first time Satoshi Kon’s masterwork animeography in full.
I was absolutely floored by his 2003 work TOKYO GODFATHERS, one of only two of his works I had not seen previously. The superb characterization and the hauntingly realistic and desolate city landscapes make this an absolute treat. Choosing to focus on detail instead of the usual spectacle, the city becomes all too tangible.
Tokyo is almost always historically realized as a packed, bright wonder full of flashing lights and bustle, recalling Western interpretations like LOST IN TRANSLATION. It is fetishized in Western movies. And that is absolutely part of its identity.
Kon chooses instead, the everyday sights that people who actually inhabit that environment experience; the alley ways, the crevices, corners, the not so wondrous cityscapes and mundane, grey skylines punctuated by the cold, wet snow. Instead of the Shibuya crossing for example, we get a small corner store, and a drunk asshole who can’t stand bums.
The scenes are rendered in wonderment by their sure realism. One of my favorite moments was a three shot master through an everyday, ordinary road safety mirror. This is detail; this is knowing the world in which you create. Maybe I just haven’t seen enough anime, but I can’t recall many people making this type of choice. It harkens too a moment in Miyazaki’s KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE, in which Kiki stays in bed, stretching, pondering a thought. I had the same feeling at that moment as well, although one was a shot selection, and the other a characterization. But Kon does both here, and does it damn well.
This was also one of a few anime films in which a live action remake could easily be achieved. However, this would be a grave mistake because you won’t get better performances or a more fantastic ambience then what was achieved here. The characterization is totally alive. The tone is spot on. It goes every which way, and this is not hyperbole.
i could go on and on, but I’ll leave it here. If you haven’t seen it, go find it. Be ready to experience that sense of wonder that appears when form fits perfectly in its container. But, I’m not a reviewer, and this is the farthest thing from that. It’s just a personal recommendation. But if you didn’t like it after being influenced to see it based on this written journal, you just haven’t developed the goods yet. Seriously. Peace.