For young Giovanni, life was harsh. Nothing seemed to be working right - he was ostracized in school, his mother was ill, and he did not have enough confidence to fight back when his schoolmates accused his father of illegal trapping. He had only one friend, Campanella... Then, he finds himself with the privilege to embark on a unique journey across time and space, and Campanella is with him. They vow to keep exploring the universe, together, forever. At no other time has he felt such happiness... But what is true happiness? Who are the ones who are actually blessed? The other passengers of the mysterious train make him think.
Kenji Miyazawa, the creator of the story, was a renowned writer of children's stories in the 1920's and early 30's until his death in 1933, at 38 years of age. Yet, having had the experience of reading some of his stories, I know that the messages included in them are not juvenile. Perhaps he was influenced by the long illness and early death of his younger sister, but many of his stories deal with humanity, death, and life after death. A Night on the Galactic Railroad, released in 1986, is typical of his work, with its fantastic and spiritualist overtones. It deals with religion more overtly than Patlabor 2 yet more seriously than Evangelion. The manuscript for Night was actually found after his death, incomplete. It came to the present conclusion with the help of the followers of Miyazawa's work.
On a different note, you might notice that the way this movie begins, and the way certain geometric shapes have cameos in the background, are very similar to another movie we showed last year: namely, The Tale Of Genji. They were directed by the same man, Gizaburo Sugii.