0 Items | £0.00

VIEW BASKET

Giovanni's Island

Thursday 8th January 2015


Jonathan Clements on this season’s classy anime feature

Giovanni's IslandIn the tense aftermath of World War Two, the Kuril Islands in northernmost Japan are handed over to the Soviet Union. A Japanese father assures his family that all will be well, although the post-war Soviet Occupation ironically brings tension and fear to an island that has previously been relatively untouched by the conflict. Young boy Junpei develops a halting, international friendship with the newly arrived blonde beauty Tanya, but her countrymen prove to be less accommodating, shipping Junpei’s father off to Siberia.

Originally mooted as a live-action project, but switched to anime due to the expense of location shooting and re-enactments, Giovanni’s Island features a script from Shigemichi Sugita and Yoshiki Sakurai deeply enmeshed with ideas of universal language. As the film winningly suggests, there are many other ways to communicate, as the cast become friends through the means of music, games and even mathematics. The film also relies heavily on allusions to the conveniently out-of-copyright novel of Night on the Galactic Railroad, complete with retellings and references, including the characters' own names -- Junpei and Kanta derive their names from the Giovanni and Campanella in Kenji Miyazawa's 1927 story.

Giovanni's IslandEver willing to poke around in the interstices of history for children’s stories of the war, the Japanese animation industry alights here on the true story of Hiroshi Tokuno, on whose life story this film is partly based. Director Nishikubo spoke in interviews of heartfelt drama and documentary realism, using Russian voice-actors in the style of First Squad, and employing the same tactic as Hayao Miyazaki in Spirited Away, by refusing to depict anything beyond the understanding of his child protagonist. However, using such a perspective in a wartime theme arguably plays into Japan’s ongoing amnesia about the war, once again depicting the Japanese as guileless innocents, caught up in determinist historical events not of their making. We might also point to Giovanni’s Island as another iteration of a sub-sub-genre in Japanese animation about the end of WW2, sitting alongside other films such as Rail of the Star, Memories of Youth, Story of the Tsushima, and Kiku and the Wolf in their focus on the Japanese imperial subjects who found themselves in “foreign” territory after the surrender.

It is difficult to regard the giddy internationalism and pacifism of the film itself out of its political context – in 2006, the then-president of Russia Vladimir Putin offered to return Shikotan and the Habomai rocks, as long as Japan accepted that the larger disputed islands of Iturup and Kunashir were Russian ever more. Japanese school textbooks continue to refer to the islands as Japanese territory, and director Nishikubo has admitted in interviews that the author of the original book and inspiration for “Giovanni” had a much more strident political message to convey.

“But I met with him when we started production,” he told me at Scotland Loves Anime last October, “and I told him that I was more interested in his story itself than the point he wanted the story to make. It’s better to get people talking than simply telling them what to say.”

Giovanni’s Island is out on UK Blu-ray on 12th January from Anime Ltd.

Buy it now

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Akira (the Collector\'s Edition) Triple Play Edition (incl. Blu-ray, Dvd, Digital Copy)

£22.49
sale_tag
was £29.99
Iconic and game-changing, Akira is the definitive anime masterpiece! Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk classic obliterated the boundaries of Japanese animation and forced the world to look into the future. Akira’s arrival shattered traditional thinking, creating space for movies like The Matrix to be dreamed into brutal reality.

Neo-Tokyo, 2019. The city is being rebuilt post World War III when two high school drop outs, Kaneda and Tetsuo stumble across a secret government project to develop a new weapon - telekinetic humans. After Tetsuo is captured by the military and experimented on, he gains psychic abilities and learns about the existence of the project's most powerful subject, Akira. Both dangerous and destructive, Kaneda must take it upon himself to stop both Tetsuo and Akira before things get out of control and the city is destroyed once again. 
AKIRA The Collector’s Edition features both the original 1988 Streamline English dub and the 2001

Pioneer/Animaze English dub!

FEATURED RELEASE

RELATED BLOG ARTICLES

Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira then and now

Helen McCarthy examines Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark Akira, then and now
1988 in Japan: Yamaha Motors won the J-League but Nissan won the Cup. Western pop divas Bananarama, Kylie and Tiffany were on TV. Japanese real estate values climbed so high that the Imperial Palace garden was worth more than the State of California, and Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward had a higher market value than Canada. The Government signed the FIRST Basel Accord, triggering a crash that wiped out half Japan’s stock market. Katsuhiro Omoto’s movie Akira premiered on 16th July.

Akira's Ancestors

Andrew Osmond on the unexpected forerunners of Neo-Tokyo
In Akira’s opening moments, a sphere of white light appears from nowhere in the centre of Tokyo, and swells to obliterate the city. Many Western critics saw the image as a symbol of the Bomb, like the earlier Japanese pop-culture icon, Godzilla. But the designer apocalypse could be taken as Akira’s own mission statement – to be a new kind of entertainment, blowing away its peers and reshaping the cinema landscape.

The Impact of Akira

Andrew Osmond reviews the reviews from 20 years ago.
On its explosive arrival in the West, Akira crossed the Pacific to catch the generation that grew up on the films of Spielberg and Lucas; it was also the generation that read adult superhero strips such as Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Akira, though, offered the shock-and-awe widescreen violence akin to that of enfant terrible live-action director, Paul Verhoeven. For example, both Akira and Verhoeven’s Robocop (1987) have a gory money-shot scene in their early minutes, in which a luckless bit-part player is graphically torn apart by a hail of bullets. Unsurprisingly, such imagery excited reviewers.

Akira 25th Anniversary Screenings

Your chance to see it in the cinema in the UK
Neo-Tokyo is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E. Katsuhiro Otomo’s debut animated feature AKIRA had its Japanese premiere on 16th July 1988. We are very proud to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of what is undoubtedly, one of the most celebrated animated movies of all time. Voted by Empire readers as one of the top 100 best films ever and cited by everyone from James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Daft Punk and Kanye West as a massive influence on their work, AKIRA kick-started the anime business all over the world, opening the doors for everything from Pokémon to Princess Mononoke.

The Art of Akira

Joe Peacock tracks down the original images from the anime classic
Watching Akira for the first time provokes a universal reaction of awe. And justifiably so: there’s often an overwhelming sense among audiences that this animated film is unlike any other they’ve ever seen. Casual viewers won’t be able to put their finger on it; they just know that Akira is visually striking. Art and illustration aficionados appreciate the intricacy of individual scenes, sometimes pausing the film to appreciate the detail in a particular frame.

Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira then and now

Helen McCarthy examines Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark Akira, then and now
1988 in Japan: Yamaha Motors won the J-League but Nissan won the Cup. Western pop divas Bananarama, Kylie and Tiffany were on TV. Japanese real estate values climbed so high that the Imperial Palace garden was worth more than the State of California, and Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward had a higher market value than Canada. The Government signed the FIRST Basel Accord, triggering a crash that wiped out half Japan’s stock market. Katsuhiro Omoto’s movie Akira premiered on 16th July.

RECENT FEATURED POSTS

Anime Tattoos Declared Illegal

Japanese licensors demand pound of flesh
Citing “unsavoury gangster links” and “unlicensed IP [intellectual property] exploitation,” a group comprising every major anime studio (except Gainax) has warned fans that body-art is no longer permissible.
Following on from our Japanese voice actresses article, it's time to share with you our favourite English language voice actresses:

Naruto Music: Totalfat

Tom Smith on Naruto’s rising punk-pop stars
‘The next hero in the Japanese rock scene!” boldly claims their press release. Someone certainly believes in Japan’s rising guitar act TOTALFAT, it’s not every day there’s an English language press release accompanying a theme song from Naruto (or most anime for that matter).

Hentai Kamen: the Movie

With great pants comes great responsibility...
Bruce Wayne has a kick-arse suit, perfectly apt for thwarting Gotham criminals; Peter Parker has arachnid-esque abilities that turn him into a neighbourhood icon following an incident with a radioactive spider; and when a certain Kyousuke Shikijou places ladies’ panties across his visage, it unleashes his inner potential as Japan’s most forbidden superhero – no one’s safe!
A message from Jerome regarding Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'.
December’s here and it’s time to start thinking about gifts and stocking fillers for your nearest and dearest, or maybe just what to put on your own Christmas list!

Nisekoi

Andrew Osmond on an anime with a distinctive look
Boy meets girl; boy and girl hate each other; boy and girl learn they’re both children of gangster families and must pretend to be lovers to prevent gang war. Naturally there are rival suitors on both sides of the fractious pair, ranging from a sweet girl-next-door type to a pistol-packing assassin.
This week we have the long-awaited Evangelion 3.33 and the extremely popular sports anime Haikyu!! for you! What are you picking up this week?

One Piece Music Symphony

The Royal Philharmonic orchestra tackles the One Piece score
Anime composer Kohei Tanaka is to appear at London's Cadogan Hall as Jean Thorel conducts the One Piece Music Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic. Tickets on sale now...!
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Giovanni's Island from the UK's best Anime Blog.