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Giovanni’s Island – Review

Giovannis-Island-Cover-Image-01The people of this generation live in a great time in human history. Yeah, there are wars and, yeah, real struggles are still a reality but, all things considered, our lives could be a lot worse than they already are. We live, day in and day out, with certain expectations.

Most people consider themselves entitled to things they have earned, and we’re left always wanting more no matter what it is that we have. Luckily we have an older generation of men and woman whom, if you give them the time, will really put things into perspective for you.

Not only that, there are films, books and all different types of media that can teach an individual about the time before their time and it’s only after absorbing that kind of information that, even for but a second, your existence gets put into perspective. It was “Giovanni’s Island” that provided me with clarity…even for just one night.

Thanks to Madman Entertainment, I was given the chance to experience this masterful film and follow two young boys through the most harrowing times of not only their lives but of recent history as a whole.

Based on the true untold story of the Soviet occupation of the Kuril Islands at the end of WWII and the trials experienced by the region’s tragically displaced Japanese inhabitants. 

In the aftermath of the most devastating conflict mankind had ever experienced, the tiny island of Shikotan became part of the Sakhalin Oblast… and on the unhealed border in this remote corner of the world, friendship among children from two different countries timidly blossomed, striving to overcome language barriers and the waves of history. – Madman Entertainment


“Giovanni’s Island” follows a period in the life of two young boys as they are forced to deal with the Soviet occupation of their small island off of the mainland of Japan. Despite what the official synopsis says, the film is not just about defying language and social barriers, it is about surviving in a situation the likes of which you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

What I both loved and hated about this film is the way it hooked you in right from the very start. I loved it because it’s such a masterful film technique and hated it because, had it not hooked me in, I wouldn’t have grieved so much for these characters by the end. Nothing can break a mans sense of pseudo-machismo like a good cry and it was the end of “Giovanni’s Island” that had me broken with no repair in sight.

The film has constant twists and turns, each of which had me questioning why it had to “be this way”, but don’t get me wrong it had nothing to do with the writing of the film…it was history that I was questioning. I felt such a huge connection to these characters by the end of the film and that is why I believe the ending hit me so much harder than any other contemporary movie or Anime I’ve seen.

“Giovanni’s Island” somehow has you, the audience member, become invested in the lives of these two boys from the very first minute with every subsequent minute bringing you closer and closer together. I’ve seen series’ that can’t do that in thirteen episodes let alone a film that goes for an hour and a half.


Making one hell of an impact is that of the film’s visual style. Animated entirely by Production I.G., it’s no surprise that “Giovanni’s Island” looked as good as it did. Bringing their incredible high-quality level of animation to the film’s wondrous script, Production I.G. delivered to audiences a visual quality that, while reminiscent of older Anime series’, looked so crisp and clean.

There was clear use of CGI animation when absolutely necessary and it was usually only implemented to enhance a scene rather than to save money or to lessen the workload for their development team. Much like what you’d see in the “Rebuild Of Evangelion” films, Production I.G. used a contemporary dual-style that has traditional animation doubled onto CGI animation to make the scenes in question all the more smoother.

It’s only obvious to those who’ve watched enough Anime to see the signs of it happening but even then it makes for a better film so noticing it wont take any enjoyment away from you. Literally backing up the high-quality animation style of the film is that of the varied backgrounds throughout. Each looked like a painting that gave an air of beauty and wonder to a time wherein which there was close to none.

Giovanni's island japan soviet union animation

I’m a huge fan of watching Anime in their English dub rather than the Japanese just to see how well voice artists in the West perform in comparison to their Japanese counterparts. Because of animation timing and things of that calibre, it is indeed very hard for a voice artist to lend their talents to an Anime role but it seems as though those voicing the characters in “Giovanni’s Island” are true masters of their art.

Without a doubt in my mind I will say that the English dub of this film may have been one of the greatest I’ve every seen and that’s solely due to the level of realty and emotion the actors brought to their roles. Backing the voice artists up wonderfully is that of the movies soundtrack which spans a few genres but mostly sticks to classic orchestral compositions.

In fact, I’d also say that it is the films sometimes lack of music that really made a scene what it was. Featuring no music at all in a scene forces the audience to focus directly on what they’re seeing without anything to distract them even slightly and it works in the favour of this film all too well.


The difference between us at SnapThirty and other online publications that deal with similar topics is that we believe we bring a sense of realism and personality to articles and reviews. Despite my professionalism, I feel as though it is my absolute duty to be honest with our readers and thus that is what I plan to do: It was very difficult for me to write this review.

I sat at my computer for quite some time before I even began typing because it was as if I couldn’t bring myself to it. All I wanted to type was “Perfection”, but no one wants to read a review that spans only a single word.

“Giovanni’s Island” had me enthralled. “Giovanni’s Island” had me truly loving the main character cast. “Giovanni’s Island” had me in tears questioning the barbarity of life…”Giovanni’s Island” also had me smiling. It is one of the most heart-breaking but ultimately loveable films I’ve ever been given the chance to experience and, well…what more can be said? “Perfection”.

Experience the tale of “Giovanni’s Island” for yourself by purchasing it through Madman Entertainment’s official online store: Click Here

Grade: A+


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