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Anime / Giovanni's Island

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Giovanni's Island is a 2014 anime drama film. The story follows two brothers, Junpei and Kanta, who live on the island of Shikotan, shortly after World War II. On August 15, 1945, Soviet soldiers land on Shikotan and occupy the island. Junpei and Kanta, who live with their grandfather, a fisherman, and their father, the head of the firefighting force of the village, are forced to move to the stables while the Russian commander's family, among them the commander's daughter Tanya, move into the main house. They boys' uncle, Hideo, recruits Junpei into helping him set up a smuggling ring and what happens next changes all their lives forever.

It was directed by Mizuho Nishikubo and produced by Production I.G and co-produced and presented by the Japan Association Of Music Enterprises (JAME).

The film makes frequent allusions to Kenji Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Railroad, and borrows the name in its title from that of the book's protagonist.

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Giovanni's Island provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear:
    • An invading force occupying your homeland and forcing you and your family to relocate to a harsh, snowy wasteland.
    • Your children falling ill and dying thanks to the cold and poor conditions.
  • Afterlife Express: When Kanta is dying, Junpei imagines him boarding the Galactic Express which takes his little brother up to heaven.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Junpei is the last of his family left and the only one to make it home to their island. But times have changed, the Japanese and the Russian settlers are now on friendly terms and he will see his loved ones again one day in the afterlife.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Kanta vomits blood on the way back to their internment camp. It's the first sign that's what's wrong with him is much worse than a simple cough and cold.
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  • Cool Old Guy: The boys' grandpa yells at the occupying Soviets, who were all carrying very big guns, to get out of his house and refuses to leave the island when the soldiers relocate the Japanese villagers to the mainland. He will die as he lived, fishing in his boat.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Tanya. Turns out she had nothing to do with Junpei's father being caught by the Russians.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Kanta's illness, likely tuberculosis, starts out with him coughing constantly.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Kanta is the only member of Junpei's family to die onscreen.
  • Keet: Kanta. At least until their father is arrested...
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Tanya's father, who seems to be just a soldier doing his job rather than a monster. He follows orders but isn't cruel to the natives of the island and is happy that his daughter made friends with Junpei and Kanta. He and his wife even invite them for dinner and show them how to dance a traditional Russian jig.
  • Snow Means Death: Kanta becomes ill due to the harsh conditions at the internment camp. A hike through the snow makes his condition worse and he eventually dies on the way back to the camp.
  • Toilet Humor: When the boys go to collect eggs, one of the puffins poops in Kanta's face.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out if Junpei's father reunites with his remaining family.

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