Having visited the Art of Millenium Actress in a previous post, let us now take a look at the art behind Satoshi Kon’s next film – the hilarious and heartwarming “Tokyo Godfathers” – a big favourite amongst many of the director’s fans.
The story of Tokyo Godfathers (loosely based on John Ford’s Western “3 Godfathers”) follow a trio of homeless people who become unlikely surrogates to an abandoned infant they discovered on Christmas Eve, and their subsequent adventures/misadventures as they go in search of the baby’s mother. From start till end, the film is a relentless assault on the eyes of the viewer – scene after scene of astounding, gorgeously rendered background art, an artistic celebration of the hulking metropolis that is Tokyo.
(above, middle panel) The Tokyo Metropolitan Building, one of Shinjuku’s most famous landmarks – fans of Mamoru Oshii’s Patlabor II will no doubt recognize it too. ( the other prominent skyscraper in Shinjuku is the NTT Docomo Building.)
In creating the background plates for the film, the artists wanted to show not just the glittery and brightly illuminated streets that we’ve come to associate Tokyo (especially Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area ) with, but also the underside of the city – “because it is only by standing in the dark shadows of a back alley and gazing out that the city’s true form and brillant colors are truly revealed, and its intensity amplified.”
(above) Many background plates in Godfathers were created using a technique called “Digital Harmony” – which blurs the line between the foreground cell objects and background elements, creating a more seamless mise-en-scene.
(above) Satoshi Kon talks about some select storyboards – the film’s entire storyboard sequence was drawn by the man himself. The complete storyboard collection is available as a book that comes bundled with the sumptuous Tokyo Godfathers dvd boxset. ( purchase links below )
(above) The Tokyo Godfathers “Angel Book”. ( purchase link below ) Now if only they published a dedicated background artbook !
(below) Pages from the Tokyo Godfathers movie pressbook – Read this older post on Japan’s beautiful movie pressbooks. The Whale sculpture below is a real playground you can find in Shinjuku’s Central Park, pretty close to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.
I simply love the poster illustration above, painted by Satoshi Kon himself, I believe.
I feel like watching the film all over again after looking at these beautiful artwork ! For folks who have visited Tokyo before, were your initial impressions of the city (especially Shinjuku) anything like the artwork featured in this film ?
Tokyo Godfathers “Angel Book” Art Book Details :
– Dimensions – 7 x 5.8 x 0.5 inches
– Softcover, 95 pages
– Full color / b & w, Japanese language
You might also be interested in these other films by the late (R.I.P) Satoshi Kon :