Posted by psgels on 6 February 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews



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.

3 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    I did try to watch this movie once, but I was never able to finish it. Maybe I’ll watch it again when I have time.

  2. bob says:

    Thanks for the review! You mention it’s released in the west, where did you find it? I can only find these japanese releases

  3. psgels psgels says:

    What I basically meant by that is that it’s taken three years for a raw to show up on one of the torrent aggregators. Now let’s hope that some subbers actually notice it.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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