Remember Night on the Galactic Railroad? It was probably one of the quietest movies you can get. In any case, it was based on a story from Kenji Miyazawa, and back in 2007, it was animated for a second time by a digital artist named Kagaya. I was expecting something with cat people again (something that returns in nearly all of Kenji Miyazawa’s adaptations), but instead I got something much more unique than I thought.
If you looked at the screenshots you might wonder why there aren’t any people on it. That wasn’t because I was in some strange mood when I took them. There really are NO PEOPLE, or any other sort of characters in this OVA. We just have a narrator who reads the story of Kenji Miyazawa, combined with visuals and music. She also does the voices of the lead characters, but they never appear on the screen. All this show is is one huge chunk of atmosphere as we travel through all sorts of locations and constellations.
Don’t worry though. This is really an excellent recommendation if you like visual poetry. What this movie does excellently is combining the narrative, dialogue, visuals and music into one. It’s the perfect movie for if you want to relax for about an hour and dream away, and because of the limited storytelling and how we never get to see the characters, the narrative speaks to your imagination to fill in the omitted parts. It’s such a relaxing, yet thought provoking and imaginative OVA.
Which is really helped by an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. Every second of that soundtrack fits perfectly with the rest of the story and visuals, and it’s been very skillfully composed. The visuals themselves are also utterly gorgeous. Nearly everything is in 3D, and not everything is perfectly and realistically rendered, but nevertheless it’s full of eye candy. This is what I meant with the art of cutting corners in 3D animation, back in my Urban Legend Hikiko Review. Everything that matters is rendered beautifully, and the rest, like realistic water or textures. Ah well, who cares. They don’t prevent the visuals in this movie from being awesome.
Fantasy Railroad of the Star really is an engaging adventure and a beautifully imaginative journey across the Galactic Railroad. It’s obviously not for everyone, and you have to be into this kind of stuff otherwise you’re going to be bored out of your skull, but it’s OVAs like this that start off with a great experimental idea, and actually make it work. It’s a shame that it’s taken three whole years for this thing to get released in the west.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – A wonderful combination of dreamy narrative, visuals and audio.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Um, yeah. We never get to see them, but even though words they were a wonderful lead cast.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Beautiful soundtrack, very imaginative rendered visuals.|
|Setting:||8/10 – You can see that the creators had an extensive amount of astronomical knowledge.|