"Young Chiko is unaware of the meaning of war but as a Japanese national growing up in Japanese occupied Korea during World War II she soon learns that soldiers on the battlefield are not the only casualties of armed conflict. As the Empire of Japan reaps the increasingly bitter harvest of a failing war effort, its children must suffer as well. Chiko's small family is rocked by tragedy after tragedy, losing friends and loved ones as the unrelenting ravages of war continue. However, peace brings the greatest danger of all. Korea has been divided between the Allied victors and Chiko's family is in the northern half, where the Russian Army has already begun a ruthless search for former Japanese veterans. With their lives at stake, Chiko and her surviving family must embark upon an epic journey on a desperate quest for the perceived freedom of the U.S. Occupied Zone below the 38th parallel! Based on a true story and available for the first time in a brand new English dubbed version, Rail of the Star is an unforgettable tale of courage, tragedy and the triumph of the human spirit!"
Original story: Chitose kabayashi Director: Toshio Hirata Screenplay: Tatsuhiko Urahata, Hideo Asakura Character design: Yoshinori Kanemori Music: Koichi Sakata Copyright: TV TOKYO / JVC VHS version: Language: English Label: ADV Films Running time: 80 mins Certificate: PG Catalogue no: VHSRS/O01D Price: £12.99 Release Date: 1st March 1999
Manchuria's occupation by Japan before and during World War II, its 'liberation' by the Soviet Union, and the relationship between the Japanese and Koreans are not mainstream entertainment topics. Indeed, this is the first film I've seen covering them.
Whilst the subject matter is of historical interest, and the fact that an era in Japan's history they have no reason to be proud of is being treated with some openness is praiseworthy, this is a simple piece of melodrama, no better or no worse for being anime. If you loved 'Inn of the Sixth Happiness' you'll like this. [Marlon A Seton]