Rail of the Star
This story, based on events around the end of the
Second World War, centres around Chieko, one of
two daughters to a family of Japanese merchants
living and working in North Korea. As events
unfold, and first the Japanese war effort
faulters, then collapses, then Korea is occupied
in turn by the Russians and Americans, the whole
business affects her and her sister, Michiyo, as
they suddenly turn from oppressors to oppressed
and they have to take desperate measures to
escape the Russian forces.
The story does not go into detail on the subject
of the Korean experience of Japanese rule, though
ethnic brutality and even the "comfort women"
make a token appearance. However, this should
only be viewed as a cursory look at Korea in the
1940's prior to the Korean conflict. It was seen
through a small girls' eyes and as such is
innocent and free of the heavier implications
that history would show you if you were to look.
The story is far lighter than Grave of the
Fireflies but still manages to jerk a tear
or two from this cynical old reviewer as the
realities of war on what effectively is the
non-military side of the conflict (at no time
does this film involve itself directly with the
conflict itself) as illness hits.
There aren't many of these in the west, possibly
because the idea of a take on the war by a
defeated nation causes too many conflicts of its
own. Personally, my interest in such films as
this or The Cockpit which involves
itself more directly with the actual conflict is
that these show war from another angle seldom
explored by the more closed minded who believe
that Japan (and indeed Germany) should keep
quiet. If anything, it goes toward the overall
view that I have that in a war there are no
winners, and no aggressor nation can claim to be
whiter than white.
Politics aside, if taken as a story in its own
right, it is good. In fact it is very touching,
let down only by a patchy musical track that at
times was inappropriate and repetitive. The art
work was well done and the dub was of usual ADV
quality (take it or leave it!) This is not a film
for the average anime fan, but if you are a fan
who likes a good story and isn't obsessed by
fights, mecha or sailor-fuku, this will suit you
down to the ground!
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