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Giovanni's Island Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray & DVD]
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On August 15th, they told us we had lost the war. At that time, we did not really understand. Then one day, everything changed. Many soldiers, wearing uniforms we had never seen before, arrived on the island. That was the day I met Tanya.
In the aftermath of the most devastating conflict mankind had ever experienced, the tiny island of Shikotan became part of the Sakhalin Oblast... and on this unhealed border in a remote corner of the world, friendship among children from two different countries timidly blossomed, striving to overcome language barriers and the waves of history. Contains both English dub and Japanese with English subtitles.
Contains a treasure trove of video extras and an exclusive book packed with artwork, historical detail and interviews in one collector's package!
- Softback book packed with artwork, historical detail and interviews!
- Collector's packaging
- Digital art gallery
- Making of (30 mins approx)
- Music clip
- Blu-Ray and DVD editions included
- Deluxe packaging sized at 18.1 x 21cm!
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Few films (let alone animated ones) focus on the suffering of ordinary Japanese people during and immediately after the second world war, which is a shame as there is plenty of material to be brought to the attention of the public at large. The other animated film that immediately springs to mind when having seen Giovanni's Island is Isao Takahatas "Grave of the Fireflies" released by Studio Ghibli in 1988. Not many films would measure up to that heart-wrenching animated masterpiece. Mizuho Nishikubo is not trying to do another "Grave of the Fireflies" here, but ultimately ends up serving us with a beautifully executed emotional roller-coaster of a story that won't be sitting far from Fireflies in my film collection.
Whereas Fireflies is a somber story that focusses on the protagonists' foolhardy and ultimately self-defeating behaviour when faced with being left in the care of people who clearly see them as a burden, Giovanni's Island takes a much more uplifting approach. First of all, the adults (both Japanese as well as some Russian) clearly care about these children. Secondly, the children themselves soon realise that they need to do whatever is required for their community to survive, even when that means swallowing their pride. Whereas Fireflies is a film the finer points of which would be lost on most children, Giovanni's Island is far more a film that will be enjoyed by both adults and children.
The background art is like nothing I have ever seen in an anime. The studio decided to employ the talent of Argentinean born Santiago Montiel. He has a unique painterly style with brushstrokes clearly visible as an artistic feature. At first I was afraid this might make for a very uneasy moving background, but fortunately the background art has been handled in such a way that brushstrokes are completely consistent between frames where the background art is either rescaled or changes aspect. We are therefore left with a beautiful rendering of the background art, and not something like the messy (although nevertheless highly artistic) type of background animation as in Dianne Jackson's "The Snowman" of 1982, a british Christmas favourite. Montiel presents us with an artistic interpretation full of fascinating use of light and unusual angles which at times can be vaguely reminiscent of Van Gogh (in a good way). The film has come under some (mild) criticism for the flat representation of the characters, a house style of Production I.G. which is quite unlike the character presentations we are used to from the likes of Studio Ghibli. Personally I don't share this criticism, as I don't think Ghibli-style characters would have fitted in very well with Montiel's style of background art. As it stands the "flat" character presentations I think complement the background art beautifully. The use of CGI has been blended in sympathetically, just like we are used to from Studio Ghibli for example. This is still a film with a hand-drawn appearance and character first and foremost.
The Ultimate Edition release by All The Anime I am reviewing here comes with both a Blu-Ray disc as well as the DVD. Although this retails at a significant premium over buying both separately, it does come with an additional 92-page book containing background art, character studies and interviews with various key people involved in the production of this film, as well as historical background information on the Sakhalin and Kuril islands. The printing is good, albeit that the film stills and background art printing do not quite match the quality seen in the Studio Ghibli Library books released by Viz for example. Nevertheless, the book is worth the premium in my opinion, so if you are after both the Blu-Ray and DVD, I would suggest you get this Ultimate Edition whilst it is still available.
The ultimate edition is nice and is still worth keeping for the video interview and artbook.