Watch Giovanni’s Island Full Movie

One of the most appreciable qualities of Japanese animation is the readiness in which they are willing to relate and contextualize their history as a country and as a people through a medium which is too often looked down upon as inherently trite and childish. Case in point: Giovanni’s Island. Set in the aftermath of World War II, the film follows the stories of Junpei and Kanta, two young boys whose home island of Shikotan is quickly occupied by Soviet allied forces in the wake of Japan’s surrender. As their world is irrevocably by the intrusive hardships and indignities of the real world, the boy grasp to a solitary thread of hope through their imaginative love of Kenji Miyazawa’s novella Night on the Galactic Railroad, a book from which their names are inspired. Directed by Mizuho Nishikubo, who served as the esteemed animation director of Oshii’s Patlabor 2, the film touts simplistic though beautifully expressive character designs and dynamic settings featuring distinctive jagged outlines and shadows. The film’s fantasy sections are wonderful as a well, rendering the allusions to Miyazawa’s novella with such modern imaginative fidelity that it easily sits beside that of Gisaburo Sugii’s masterful 1985 adaptation. Akin to Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies, Giovanni’s Island is an affirming if tragic story of the resilience of a family living through the end of a World War, but it’s also something all its own. It’s a story of the intrinsic human persistence to forge connections and friendships in the face of seemingly unassailable differences. An excellent film about history, family, language, and hope.

Director: Mizuho Nishikubo
Writers: Shigemichi Sugita, Shigemichi Sugita
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Yukie Nakama, Yûsuke Santamaria
Plot Keywords:  inspired by true events | friendship | island | defeat | korean in japan
Genres: Animation | Drama | History | War
Certificate: PG