1981-1990AnimationArlen TarlofskyGisaburô SugiiJapan

Gisaburô Sugii & Arlen Tarlofsky – Ginga-tetsudô no yoru AKA Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)

On the night of a cat village’s Festival of the Stars, a kitten and his friend go on an celestial journey on a magical space locomotive. On that trip, they have various stops where they meet strange sights, even more unusual fellow passengers and learn some lessons of life on their trip to the terminus of the Galactic Railroad.

Kenji Miyazawa intended “Ginga tetsudo no yoru” as a book for children. But in it are truths that everyone big and small look to find. No one is comfortable with death. Everyone searches for answers. As I read the book before seeing the movie, I was amazed to see how accurately and wonderfully the director and animators were able to capture the feeling of this fantasy. It may be too arty for some, but I feel that more often than not, viewers will come away with a deeper sense of what death can do for life and what life can mean if given a chance.

As for the cat characters, this seems to be a consistent image that surrounds Miyazawa. Some of the stories he wrote were populated by cats that would take human roles. Interestingly enough, in Kenji Miyazawa’s biographical anime (Shoji Kawamori’s Spring and Chaos) Miyazawa is portrayed as a cat. Maybe the cats exist to shield children from the pain that these harsh truths might bring. But not shield too much

Sometimes it is easy to look at a work like Night on the Galactic Railroad and say, this is just a fantasy. Perhaps Miyazawa wanted us to think that, maybe at first anyhow. But the true beauty behind this animation is that by creating a fantasy world so wild and vibrant, it forces us to see who and what we really are.

2.59GB | 1 h 47 min | 1010×576 | mkv



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