HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
You've Been Trumped Too
Woman in Black, The
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
Man Who Laughs, The
Watch List
Giraffe
Kat and the Band
Echo
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
   
 
Newest Articles
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
   
 
  Giovanni's Island Casualties of War
Year: 2014
Director: Mizuho Nishikubo
Stars: Junya Taniai, Kota Yokoyama, Polina Ilyushenko, Hiroshi Inuzuka, Kanako Yanagihara, Kaoru Yawagusa, Masachika Ichimura, Saburo Kitajima, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yukie Nakama, Yusuke Santamaria
Genre: Drama, War, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: As the Second World War nears its end in July, 1945, Junpei (voiced by Kota Yokoyama) and his little brother Kanta (Junya Taniai) are happy on the idyllic island of Shikotan where their father Tatsuo Seno (Masachika Ichimura) commands the local defense force. Everything changes the day Japan surrenders although the boys welcome the return of their genial if wily uncle Hideo (Yusuke Santamaria). While Grandpa Genzo (Saburo Kitajima) dreads the arrival of Americans it is actually the Soviets that invade, placing the island under martial law. Soon the Japanese are forced to share their homes with Russian military families with the local school run by Sawako (Kaoru Yawagusa) split into two seperate classrooms, one for Japanese kids the other for children of the Russian army including beautiful blonde Tanya (Polina Ilyushenko) whom Junpei unexpectedly befriends. Yet their innocent, blossoming romance is tested by the tumultuous aftermath of the war.

Giovanni's Island is only the most recent in a long line of anime films that examine the Second World War from a child's perspective. By far the most celebrated of these was Isao Takahata's profoundly affecting Studio Ghibli production Grave of the Fireflies (1988) though other examples range from Masaki Mori's impassioned and harrowing Barefoot Gen (1983) to Toshio Hirata's blinkered and banal Rail of the Star (1993). Some critics find this sub-genre particularly troubling, a means by which Japanese filmmakers sidestep atrocities committed during the war to portray themselves as guiltless victims, essentially hiding behind the innocence of children. In some aspects Giovanni's Island upholds this regrettable stance. Confined to a child's viewpoint the film presents a familiar if nonetheless moving story of lost innocence, hardship, sacrifice, suffering and tragedy without addressing the larger issues of the war.

Penned by writers Yoshiki Sakurai and Shigemichi Sugita the script might avoid probing political analysis but to its credit attempts some moral complexity. Far from brutal invaders the Russian soldiers are drawn as faceted human beings, exhibiting compassion as well as ruthlessness in their dealings with the Japanese, driven by a sense of duty shared in common with Tatsuo than by cruelty. Tanya's family warmly welcome Junpei and Kenta into their home (which is technically the boys' home) in a charming scene where the young Japanese struggle with knives and forks to eat a hearty Russian meal then dance along to gramophone recordings of folk songs. Later on a terse exchange between Sawako and a displaced Korean woman who shelters the family acknowledges not everyone is sad to see the Japanese go. The film fumbles the values struggle between duty-bound traditionalist Tatsuo, who insists the family do all they can to help their fellow Japanese endure the Russian occupation, and the more morally flexible Hideo, who believes in survival at all costs, that goes unresolved much like Sawako's thwarted feelings for both men. Yet it succeeds in shining a light on a hitherto little known consequence of the Pacific war (the dispute over the Kuril islands between Japan and Russia continues to this day) as Junpei and Kenta join the hundreds of Japanese exiled to forced labour camps and eventually sneak away to find their dad with harrowing results.

Mizuho Nishikubo deftly interweaves real-life events with allusions to the classic children's fantasy Night on the Galactic Railroad as Junpei and Kenta nickname themselves after the protagonists Giovanni and Campanella and dream frequently about boarding the famous fantastical train to the stars. Written by poet Kenji Miyazawa this much beloved novel was adapted into a seminal anime in 1985. Nishikubo also artfully renders the charming juvenile romance between Junpei and Tanya via some beautifully poetic imagery as when an unseen Tanya extends an extra track allowing a toy train to run from her room to his or when Junpei's lovelorn sketches come vibrantly alive. Framed by contemporary scenes where legendary voice actor Tatsuya Nakadai voices an aged Junpei, Giovanni's Island is handsomely crafted and spins a compelling, powerful story with some deeply moving moments. Like Grave of the Fireflies it is unafraid to delve into darker territory reflecting the true horrors of war albeit as a more self-conscious weepie. Still one would have to have a heart of stone not to weep when a key character finally sees that long-sought train to the stars.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1135 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: