haize78's avatar


  • Joined Nov 6, 2014
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This is a really difficult anime to rate. And a tough review to write. Depending on the person watching it, the rating could easily swing between totally boring crap and a near-masterpiece. It's not fun, it's not entertaining and nothing much happens. It's about two anthropomorphic cats watching the scenery from behind the windows of a train (and occasionally opening the windows and leaning out) while they're journeying at night. The animation style and the narration are typical of children's anime - but I really can't imagine what a child would make of this, if anything at all. During this last week, I fell asleep countless times while trying to watch it; but I always came back to it until I managed to get to the end. It's old, it was made in the 1980s, so the animation isn't astounding. But that's not the reason I'm so torn about this. It's got a truly dark and subdued atmosphere and it's heavily symbolic, but you don't understand what's really going on and what the symbolism is all about until the end. The pacing is incredibly slow - that's why I fell asleep so many times. And also because its inner workings are those typical of dreams, the protagonist is walking and the scenery suddenly changes, he takes his eyes off of something and the next moment it has vanished, he sees unusual or downright crazy things and it's all completely "normal", things appear out of nowhere and then they disappear again, distances are relative: objects and people are really close one second and the next they are out of reach ...things like these happen all the time, and they're presented in such a "dreamlike" way that you're not taken aback by the implausability of any of it. There's also a very strong religious undercurrent that somehow merges with the philosophical and symbolic aspects. At times it can be quite cryptic, I'd be hard pressed to say what some of the scenes mean, to explain some of symbolism, but that dreamlike quality I mentioned before means that I really don't care much about giving precise explanations, what I retained is the general atmosphere and the story of the friendship between Giovanni and Campanella. And a sense of purpose, somehow. The purpose of life, I guess; the themes dealt with are in fact existential ones, the meaning of life, friendship, the coming of age process, the meaning of death, the after-life.

I also kind of gathered that the novel on which the movie is based is part of Japanese popular culture, as in at least other two or three anime I've watched I found quotations and mentions of it as something really meaningful; so I knew about Giovanni and Campanella long before I watched this anime adaptation.

The story is about Giovanni, a young cat from a poor family whose father is currently missing - this, and the fact that he has to work at several part-time jobs in order to help his ill mother make him the target of some bullying at school. The only one who stands up for him, albeit in an indirect way, is his friend and classmate Campanella. After school, Giovanni goes to his part-time work at the local paper and then has to run some errands for his mother. While he's resting on a hill, gazing up at the Milky Way, Giovanni is nearly run over by a train which appears out of thin air; the train however stops, letting him on and in one of the cars he finds Campanella who appears to be dripping water even if he doesn't remember why. Thus the journey of the two begins on this train which is travelling through the Milky Way. 

In conclusion, it's not an anime many will enjoy because of the slow pacing, the old animation style and all the symbolism which makes it difficult to understand at times. I think most people would, indeed, find it tedious. But... But if you're into intellectual things, if you've got the patience to go on watching despite the pacing, you might like it. I'm not saying it's an exceptional anime, but it left something meaningful inside me. 

7/10 story
5/10 animation
6/10 sound
5.5/10 characters
7/10 overall
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