Friday, April 14, 2006

Oscillazione di umore*

Subject: Noir
One of tonight's rentals was "Night of the Galactic Railroad", a 1985 Japanese animated feature based on a short story from around the turn of the last century. It's set in Italy (sort of), and the primary characters are all anthropamorphic cats. It's a tale for children, though from an American perspective, it's rather sad and comtemplative, and maybe a hair too deep for the typical American juvenille audience. Well, that is, if you don't give the kids any credit for having any intelligence whatsoever... *sigh*

It's a very simple presentation, yet there's a lot of subtle things going on. The symbolism isn't particularly difficult, but there are a number of elements that don't quite map to western experience. Which is okay; it's still quite involving.

One bit that struck me was the main character's (Giovanni's) expression -- there was a sort of pervasive "WTF-is-going-on" feel to his look. But when you think about it, he looks exactly like a cat would look. So even though they do ascribe a few more familiar emotional cues to him (and Campenella and the other cats involved), you find yourself needing to adjust your reactions to their, well, reactions as if they were coming from a cat.

Some of the reviews I've read complain about the pacing, but if you keep the whole "cat-ness" aspect in mind, it helps a lot. Throw in a bit of old-skool, and you've got it all covered.

Still, there was quite a twist to it, and not a particularly happy one. You're clued in that something bad is happening, but you're also misdirected as to who it's happening to. But it's still very thoughtfull overall; reflective in how the conclusion arrives. There are no answers, though there is a lot of symbolism; Christian or otherwise. It's also quite a departure from the usual anime fare, and that's just the sort of thing I'm seeking out right now.

Anyway, it was still rather sad, and it wasn't quite the way I wanted to end my Friday evening. So I decided I'd follow up in the "Anime-meets-Italian" vein and rewatch my favorite "Porco Rosso". Nothing much more to gush about that beyond what I have already, but I definitely feel a lot better now that I watched it again.

"A pig's got to fly."


*(thanks, Bablefish! Even though that probably doesn't make any sense at all...)

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