This was a very strange and surprisingly creepy children’s film made in 1983 based on a fable. Apparently, it was even remade in 2007 because it still has a lot of relevance to today. In fact, this story was even mentioned in the first episode of Mawaru Penguindrum, but I promise that wasn’t reason to why I watched this!
The story is about a cat-boy named Giovanni who lives a life where his father is gone and his mother is sick. To be able to buy simple necessaries, along with going to school where be bully him, he has to work two jobs. In the midst of his town’s festival, he ends up finding himself an opportunity to take the Galactic Train with his best friend Campanella.
This film is actually divided into short chapters (that still present a linear story) that showcase different people, and parts of the galaxy. We see a lot of different characters, even including people who were on the Titanic. The movie has the type of storytelling that you would find in the book Le Petit Prince or in anime like Kino’s Journey. Basically it had the almost silent observer perspective where any sort of action doesn’t really happen.
Though to be honest, I hate Le Petit Prince and I definitely wasn’t a fan of Kino’s Journey. This type of style of story telling is not something I really like all that much, but I understand there are many fans of this style and if you are one of them, you will no doubt like this film much more than I did.
Nonetheless, even when I try to put aside my feelings towards this type of story, I still feel like the middle really dragged on and was very dull. Also, a lot of things went unanswered by the end, but at least he turn of events that happened near the end were definitely interesting. Once again I must say, for a children’s film I was pretty surprised at some of the really dark themes of death presented. The film also has a very “deal with what you got” sort of moral.
The main character doesn’t have much of a personality. The story was set up where Giovanni’s life was shown to be pretty terrible, but he never really cared. His character almost felt only needed to present the rest of the events in the story. I guess I should also add that even though the characters are mostly all cats, they really aren’t very cute. The cats have human qualities, which basically just follows the characteristics of a fable.
The animation is from the 80s, so you sort of get what you would expect . It actually has a surprisingly somber colour palette. It helped to make the film even more ominous, which is not necessarily a good thing. Like with the mother, it was really disturbing how she is represented just as a talking voice from a room with no light.
The creepy original soundtrack did not help too much either in bringing a lighter note and more child friend atmosphere to this film. Despite that, the music is actually really good, it almost sounds like experimental. To get an idea of some of the music in this film you can check it out for yourself here, here and here. This movie also including music from The New World Symphony as well, which is always a plus!
I started this post off by saying this story is still relevant and is even referenced in anime like Penguindrum, but that really is only the beginning. It’s a story that can be seen in several anime from Book Girl to Galaxy Express 999. Although I didn’t like it all that much, I can see how it could be interesting for a person who likes this type of storytelling. Also, whether you think you’re going to like this film or not, if you haven’t had the chance to read the story, then this is a worthwhile way to become familiar with it. If you are an anime fan, it is something you will need to see eventually!