Tokyo Godfathers (2003) PG-13
Summary: The story takes place on Christmas Eve in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Middle-aged has-been Gin, aging transvestite Hana, and teenager runaway Miyuki are homeless friends who have formed a makeshift family structure bond. That bond is tested when they find an abandoned baby while searching for food in a trash dumpster. They try to care for the infant themselves, and travel throughout the city in search of the baby’s parents.
Recommendation: Getting to know the main characters’ pasts felt organic and likely. The many surprises along the way are certainly entertaining if a bit more suspect, but the comedy and stresses produced by their exposure make them important. Gin is not meant to appear likeable, so forgive him the terrible habit of insulting Hana with unkind terminology. Hana is the best at insulting or commenting on their own situation and it’s not nearly as painful as the name-calling. The mystery of the baby does in fact get resolved by the end so buckle up and enjoy the ride – there are a lot of twists and turns.
Wolf Children (2012) PG
Summary: Wolf Children is a staggeringly beautiful animated feature film from director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars). This epic cinematic achievement follows Hana, a woman who falls in love with a Wolf Man and gives birth to two half human, half wolf children. After the tragic death of her beloved, Hana seeks refuge in a rural town where she attempts to build a life for herself and her children.
Recommendation: There exists some interesting review comments regarding the impossibility of their genetics working out to make viable children, but this movie leans toward a romantic and hopeful audience. Believe in the magic and have fun watching the kids cause problems. This supermom does NOT have it altogether. She tries, learns, and tries again, usually with a smile. The children are no longer toddlers by the time this story ends, having developed very different personalities and established what it is that’s important to them.
Mirai (2018) PG
Summary: Four-year-old Kun is jealous of his new baby sister until one day when he storms off into the garden and meets her as a teenager from the future.
Recommendation: Kun is blessed with an INCREDIBLE imagination (or he’s a super genius for understanding multi-timelines and dimensions at the age of 4). His life and thoughts are shared through multiple perspectives (his dog, his sister, etc.) as they pop up to guide him around dangers or obstacles. The visuals are a lot of fun, especially inside and around their house. The many stair groupings are amusing before you get to their petite outdoor area. It reminded me of the architectural wonder from Parasite (2019). My favorite moment may be the train station (WOW!) for those vivid special effects.