Newly reissued, the joyful little book that inspired Studio Ghibli's equally euphoric film has a fresh new translation to go with it
Shinya Tsukamoto's blood-soaked, bare-knuckled psychodrama gives us two men in competition for a woman -- but it's the woman who wins
When they talk about "a film for all ages", this Studio Ghibli masterwork about life on the cusp of adolescence must be what they mean
I'm tempted to call Tokyo Godfathers the most conventional movie Satoshi Kon ever made, but a) that doesn't mean it's a lesser entry compared to his other, more fantastic work, and b) "conventional" by Kon's standards still means something pretty far out on a limb. It's certainly the funniest thing he ever did, a story so driven by preposterous coincidence and chance that those things end up becoming themes instead of mere ingredients. And despite being a loosey-goosey remake of a novel that inspired many other remakes over the years (e.g., Three Godfathers with John Wayne), there's nothing about it that feels second-hand; it's Kon at his wooliest, most improvisational, and also heartfelt.
Before Shinya Tsukamoto rattled everyone's psychic eyeteeth with Tetsuo: The Iron Man, he created a kind of dress rehearsal for that movie, the 45-minute short film The Adventures Of Denchu Kozo. And then, years later after making a name for himself as one of Japan's finest and most fiercely independent directors, he returned to the short-film format once again with Haze. Both of those shorts are among the many treasures compiled in the new Shinya Tsukamoto box set just issued by Arrow.
Sometimes it's not about a storyline, or a character, or even a theme. Sometimes it's about an attitude, a unifying point of view about the elements in a work. Dorohedoro gives us a grotty, crumbling urban hellscape, beseiged by arrogant magic-wielders who turn people into monsters for fun, and yet the dominant mood of the story is a crooked grin. This shouldn't work, but it does. Dorohedoro is hilarious, disgusting, bizarre, cockeyed, visionary, and at times even rather sweet, and somehow none of those things steps on the toes of the other.