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Giovanni’s island Blu-ray Review

“Giovanni’s Island” isn’t as impactful as it could have been. 

In this 2014 historical anime film, the story is set during and after WWII on the island of Shikotan. The plot revolves around brothers Junpei and Kanta (and their family members) who become caught up in wartime conflicts when Russian soldiers end up occupying the island. During this time period, Junpei and Kanta end up bonding with a Russian girl named Tanya, but things go sideways when the brothers’ father ends up being arrested. Afterwards, the brothers (along with their uncle and teacher) are sent to a Russian internment camp where more tragedy befalls them. The story is also bookended by an older Junpei who returns to the island where he grew up. 

Comparisons to the heartbreakingly brilliant anime film “Grave Of The Fireflies” are inevitable, but “Giovanni’s Island” is certainly not on that level. While the story about a family being torn apart by war is emotional to be sure, it doesn’t quite have the impact that it could have. The characters are fairly well developed, but certain dramatic elements like Kanta’s illness, the brothers bond with Tanya and the father being arrested are rather underplayed while other elements like the constant go-to fantasies involving “Night On The Galactic Railroad” are overplayed. It’s understandable that director Mizuho Nishikubo and writers Yoshiki Sakurai and Shigemichi Sugita perhaps wanted to shy away from the tragic and traumatic elements so as to not overwhelm the audience, but playing it safe to a virtually predictable degree hampers the story as a whole. 

The animation work by Production I.G. is generally strong (although the character models could be a little stronger in spots). The Galactic Railroad sequences and especially the hand painted esque nature and village backgrounds are especially noteworthy.


Presentation: 1.78:1 1080p. How does it look? Fans will be pleased by this crisp hi-def transfer.

Audio Track: Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How do they sound? The original language Japanese track is clearly the one to pick here. The English dub is tolerable at best.

* “Troika” music video.
* Art gallery
* An interview with voice actress Polina Ilyushenko (who played Tanya).
* A 37 making of featurette with interviews, discussions about the project, location scouting for references, character discussions, voice recordings, and more.


February 12, 2023 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review |

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