Giovanni's Island

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Giovanni's Island
Giovanni's Island.jpg
Directed by Mizuho Nishikubo
Screenplay by Shigemichi Sugita
Yoshiki Sakurai
Story by Shigemichi Sugita
Starring Masachika Ichimura
Yukie Nakama
Music by Masashi Sada
Cinematography Yumiko Nakata
Edited by Junichi Umeatsu
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • February 22, 2014 (2014-02-22) (Japan)
Running time
102 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Box office $342,838

Giovanni's Island (ジョバンニの島, Joban'ni no Shima) is a 2014 Japanese anime drama film directed by Mizuho Nishikubo and produced by Production I.G and co-produced and presented by the Japan Association of Music Enterprises (JAME).[1]

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.


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. At school, Russian children occupy half the building, and Tanya and the other Russian kids begin to mingle with the Japanese children at recess. After a playground jostle makes Junpei bump into Tanya, they become friends and the two brothers are subsequently invited to Tanya's house for dinner. The brothers' uncle, Hideo, asks Junpei to light signal fires at night so that he can make trips to the main island for rations as they are running low on rice. Meanwhile, their father, Tatsuo, with the help of their school teacher, Sawako, secretly supplies the rest of the village with foodstuff from the Dawn Corps' emergency stores. When Hideo finds out about this, he tries to smuggle the food to sell outside the island, but gets caught instead. Tatsuo rushes to the cave where the Dawn Corps' supplies are kept and gets arrested.

On September 25, 1947, the Japanese on the island are made to assemble at the harbour sent back to the mainland. Junpei and Kanta set out with Sawako, while their grandfather chooses to stay behind, determined to spend his last moments on the sea. The three are reunited with Hideo while boarding the ship, and arrive at an internment camp at Maoka, in western Karafuto, a few days later, where they wait for the ship that will take them back to Japan. Hideo finds out that Tatsuo is alive and at another internment camp on the other side of the mountains "just a stone's throw away". Kanta, taking his words literally, sets out to meet his father, aided by Junpei. Sawako and Hideo track the two down the next day, and to Hideo's surprise, Sawako decides to visit Tatsuo's camp as well. The four of them drive to a pillbox where they spend the night, but in the morning they spot Soviet soldiers who've managed to track them down, and Hideo runs ahead as a decoy while Sawako and the children make their escape.

56 years later, Sawako and Junpei return to Shikotan and pay their respects at Tatsuo and Kanta's graves. Junpei's school holds a graduation ceremony for those who never managed to have it, and a blonde girl, Tanya's granddaughter, approaches Junpei at dinner. She hands him a notebook, containing one of Junpei's sketches of Tanya, and Junpei gives her his old copy of "Night on the Galactic Railroad" in return.


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