I'm not sure what happiness really is.Night on The Galactic Railroad
(銀河鉄道の夜, romanised Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru
) is a 1927 novel by Japanese children's book author Kenji Miyazawa, concerning death, the meaning of life, and happiness. Considered a classic in Japan, it has since been adapted into an animated film
and numerous stage plays. Night on the Galactic Railroad
is a Mind Screw
tale peppered with a good bit of religious symbolism, but its that special kind Mind Screw — the kind where you can actually understand things if you give them a good bit of thought
A boy named Giovanni, while going to get milk for his mother, decides to take a rest under the starry sky... and suddenly
finds himself aboard a magical train. His best friend Campanella happens to be riding with him in the same car. The train in question is traveling along The Milky Way, heading for an unknown destination.
The film changes all but a few characters from humans to anthropomorphic cats
to make audiences more sympathetic to them, especially with their limited animation
. Also, to honor Miyazawa's love for Esperanto
the film was alternatively named Nokto de la Galaksia Fervojo
. All signs and "chapter titles" in the film are also in Esperanto. There was a decent English dub released in 2001 starring Veronica Taylor
and Crispin Freeman
, but it's out-of-print
, and the DVD is nigh-impossible to find for less than 70 USD.
- The original novel by Miyazawa Kenji, published posthumously in 1934. Four drafts are known to exist, of which the last one is the best-known.
- A 1985 animated film directed by Gisaburoo Sugii.
- A 1986 theatrical drama by Sou Kitamura, titled Sou Kou: Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru (想稿・銀河鉄道の夜).
- A theatrical sketch in a 2002 play consisting of Kenji's works, written by Yutaka Narui.
- A 2004 musical by the Warabiza performing arts company.
- A 2011 play in English by the University of Massachusetts.
Not to be confused with Galaxy Express 999
Compare Arashi no Yoru ni
, an animated film adaptation of a children's book also directed by Gisaburoo.
The animated film provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: Some things in the book Miyazawa didn't specify, so Gisaburo had to use his imagination. The director also added the blind conductor to the story.
- Adult Fear: Dying and leaving your children alone.
- Afterlife Express
- All Just a Dream: Somewhat subverted.
- An Aesop: Use your life to the fullest while you still have it, and live for others.
- Bad Export for You: The only DVD with English subtitles was released in 2001 in limited amount. The transfer source was the laserdisc copy, which had a VHS picture quality. In 2002 the Japanese got anamorphic widescreen DVD, with much better picture. Why do the Japanese get all the cool stuff??
- Downer Ending
- Esperanto, the Universal Language: All text in the film is written in it. The movie's alternative name is mentioned above. This was done because the original book's author loved that language.
- Funny Animal: Almost all the characters are cats occupying human roles.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Campanella saved one of the kids who had been cruel to Giovanni, but at the expense of his own.
- Kids Are Cruel: Played straight with Giovanni and Campanella's classmates (especially Zanelli), who tease Giovanni about his missing father (who has failed to return from a fishing trip) and frequently ostracize him. Averted with Campanella and Giovanni, who are very thoughtful and courteous kids; even the way Campanella died makes it obvious that he's the exact opposite of this trope.
- Mind Screw: That special, rare case, when all becomes clear near the end.
- RMS Titanic: Referenced.
- Scenery Porn: The visuals and locations play an important role in telling the story, so much attention has been paid to their design and they are frequently focused upon.
- The Stoic: Campanella.