The prevalence of community and the idea of identity has always been a strong form of drama but anime sometimes cannot address certain part of these issues in a mainstream way without resorting to metaphor or mythology which is a great balance point but can affect the impact of reality. The idea with “Tokyo Godfathers” is two fold as it addresses both aspects of the LGBT+ community and homelessness. Attending the closing night of the International Film Festival Macao last December, the film “i’m livin’ it”, a piece into on the worlds of the homeless surrounding a fast food establishment in Hong Kong gave a view into this portion of that life and the stories behind it. While this anime is based in Tokyo and made in 2003, many of its themes are still prevalent today if not more main stream (though stigma is still attached in many aspects). What the film does today is that by embracing actors who can perceive the experience in one way or another, it brings an authenticity which can be very telling both in the readings and the humor. Granted the style in some scenes of anime can be over-the-top but”Tokyo Godfathers” in many ways moves between the two worlds including degrees of subtlety. A scene on a bridge as well as on a roof is undeniable in its power.

There is also a dexterity of storytelling where events are not always what they seem. Huamn foibles persist but also depth as well as lack of perception of characters as the progress on their journey. Hana (as played by trans activist Shakina Wayfack) brings a humanity to the path especially for that of a mother. Gin and Miyaki provide the chorus in her trinity. Hana won’t be brought down. She is a force of nature The dramatic essence of her theater background definitely brings a balance of light in the darkness especially when she returns to see Mother (played by gender theorist Kate Bornstein). This scene and many others definitely gives the restoration and perspective a sense of realness. Many times with new dubs it can take away certain subtleties because of political correctness. “Akira” is a good example with some of that film’s brutality maybe toned down a bit in later dubs. “Tokyo Godfathers” retains its power but also takes into fact the aesthetics, both inwardly and outwardly. It was amazing to see the sync more adequately line up and play to the emotions especially with Hana. The restoration especially with the shadows since most of the film takes place at night and in the cold gives a sereneness even in the more textured scenes.


By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: APOKOLIPS WAR [Warner Brothers Animation]

The aspect of Darkside progressions like “Star Trek” with the Mirror Universe is to examine those traits that are considered essential to characters but how they can be skewed in the aspect of a changed world or universe. That is the structure of “Justice League Dark: Apokolips Wars”. The idea is based around the continuing narrative from a couple years back in “Flashpoint” where Barry broke open a dimensional rift. The aspect is Darkside using Superman’s power against him and then rendering him useless is another perception that was reflected but not brought to ultimate bear in the live action “Justice League”. In this progression of “Apokolips” there is a change of focus. In an interesting irony, watching the loss and decimation of the Justice League allows for the stakes to be much higher. While some context structures work, others seems too generic.

On the whole the use of the paradoxes as well as the concept of the parademons works quite well. The tech thematic of using the Earth’s core as a salve for energy in a way reflects a certain element of “The Matrix”. There is also an ode to the Chosen One as well as a nifty Dark Side reference in a way between father and son and their master. To give away too much plot takes away from its brutality but also relevance. The nice intermittent strategy though is using John Constantine as the catalyst in many ways. His aspect of a fully reluctant and failing hero works well, especially in the reasoning when Superman initially tries to recruit him. It pays off as the story goes along because there is a good reason for him to act the way he does. The Damian/Robin and his interaction with Raven is the most satisfying of the subplots, especially after so many years of seeing them permeated with “Teen Titan Go!”. The essence of their underlying relationship is one that should be explored especially with darkness within her. “Titans” does it to a point but it really needs a full movie star/cinematic structure, The story and the visuals don’t mince the darkness but yet still allows the artists to revel in mythology.

Whereas the destruction and damage to everyone physically and mentally is almost beyond repair (and it primarily is), the aspect based in a thematic “Matrix” mythology or at least the possibility of a “Total Recall” one is interesting. Between some of the cool visuals, and the fight sequences have their intensity, but it is the loss that we see integrated with all the different superheros, especially towards the end is what makes this installment worth watching. The voice cast is phenomenal as well with real life spouses Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell playing Superman and Lois Lane, Rosario  Dawson playing Wonder Woman and  Jason O’Mara playing Batman not to mention the original Constantine from the TV series Matt Ryan bringing his right brand of bollocks to the man of the dead. “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” continues the texture of comic darkness set in a web of redeemable archetypes. But in this new world of animation, the superheros can continue to be more flawed, but yet still seem so vast.


By Tim Wassberg