Palatable: Night on the Galactic Railroad

Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
Directed by Gisaburo Sugii
Written by Kenji Miyazawa, Hiroshi Masumura, Minoru Betsuyaku
Produced by Masato Hara, Atsumi Tashiro
Starring Mayumi Tanaka, Chika Sakamoto, Ayumi Ishijo, Kaori Nakahara, Shun Yashiro, Chikao Otsuka, Fujio Tokita, Takeshi Aono, Reiko Niimura, Junko Hori, Tetsuya Kaji
One among innumerable stops in the itinerary of a massive locomotive traversing the galaxy’s span is situated near a village populated by bipedal, Italian, Esperantographic felines. Boarding there, a poor, pensive, unpopular adolescent (Tanaka), employed as a compositor and paperboy to support his family in his father’s absence, and a wealthy classmate (Sakamoto) thwart the Milky Way to witness emblematical Northern and Southern (Christian) Crosses, Albireo’s grimly towering stone observatory, a black hole, the tragic submergence of a passenger liner and Scorpio’s fabularly sempiternal incandescence; further, they explore beyond a town resembling their own a Pliocene strand where ancient stones and walnuts are exhumed from its crystalline sands. Within their tenebrious car, these curious kittens encounter the train’s conductor (Kaji) and blind, geriatric radio operator (Aono), and fellow passengers — a catcher and peddler of weirdly ethereal birds (Otsuka), one pious, elderly Catholic (Kaori), and human siblings escorted by their tutor in the wake of their aforesaid shipwreck — all of whom are bound to a shared destination. Sugii’s deliberately deliberative animated adaptation of Miyazawa’s classic juvenile novel abounds with transcendental allusions and celestial symbolism, and varies by anthropomorphism from its source, the humanist pathos of which is fully intact. Their beautifully painted and poignant noctivagation glorifies the fealty of true friendship and Christian faith (posited by a famously devout Buddhist!)…be it perhaps only sciomancy dreamt in a deathly prescience.
Recommended for a double feature paired with Galaxy Express 999.

Favorites: Dirty Pair: Project Eden

Dirty Pair: Project Eden (1987)
Directed by Koichi Mashimo
Written by Haruka Takachiho, Hiroyuki Hoshiyama
Produced by Shigehiro Nakagawa, Masanori Ito, Hironori Nakagawa, Yoshihide Kondo
Starring Kyoko Tongu, Saeko Shimazu, Katsuji Mori, Chikao Otsuka, Toku Nishio
Disaster ensuing disorder attends every assignment of Haruka Takachiho’s feisty dyad, and in this sole theatrical feature succeeding the delirious televised adaptation of his novelistic series, their calamitous concomitance is accordingly magnified as a spectacle of detonation, mutation and oenophilia. Dispatched to investigate acts of sabotage that threaten the uneasy peace between two rival governments exploiting a planet’s invaluable and plethoric resources, Kei and Yuri encounter a dashing thief in pursuit of a potable antique, an unhinged, geriatric geneticist determined to advance the evolution of a rocky, dormant species and his natty henchman. Not a costive moment stays the celerity of this riotous, ridiculous adventure vibrantly rendered with florid detail and scintillating effects, wherein the Lovely Angels hazard hitherto unfamiliar dangers…none of which represent thematic or tonal freshness! A few amative interludes hardly spoil this mission’s blistering pace by intimating some rare emotional depth. Not a tittle of it amounts to anything and the Pair are typically no more responsible in action than culpability, but the denouements of their escapades are ordinarily peripheral to their significance, and neither the toothsome twosome nor their exploits were ever so gorgeously animated before or since.