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Rail of the Star: A True Story of Children
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 03/04/2002

The time is World War II. Chiko is a young Japanese girl living in North Korea with her family, which was then under Japanese occupation. Soon, Chiko's father gets drafted into the Japanese army. Moreover, life in North Korea has been getting increasingly difficult for Japanese people as they are persecuted by various forces. Chiko and her family must escape to the south at all costs, and make their way back home to Japan.
Based on an autobiographical novel by Chitose Kobayashi, Rail of the Star is an anime which showcases the effects of war on innocent citizens... as seen through the eyes of a child. It runs along the same lines as "Grave of the Fireflies", albeit the latter is a great deal harsher in its portrayal and much more emotionally involving.
Rail of the Star begins in modern day Japan. A grown-up Chiko gets a glimpse of the news, featuring the arrival of some Japanese war orphans. This prods her to reminisce about her own childhood, and how the war affected her own life. Thus we are taken back to the 1940's, during the time when Chiko and her family resided in North Korea. We see how they live from day to day, to the time when Chiko's father gets drafted and until the time he returns, eventually planning their daring escape to the south. It's not so much a war movie, and you won't see any fighting or bloodshed.
The character designs are very plain, like everything else in this anime. The Japanese truly do look Japanese though, with their chinky eyes and pale faces. The art and animation are adequate overall, but won't really strike one as anything impressive. Rail of the Star is a nice human interest story, but that's about it. It doesn't quite possess the visual splendor or the poignant feel of "Grave of the Fireflies", but for six bucks, I'm not complaining. It's meaningful in its own right and it's not such a bad way to spend around 75 minutes of one's time.
For something along these lines also see "Grave of the Fireflies".

Rail of the Star: A True Story of Children
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Review Title:
Rail of the Star: A True Story of Children
Alternative Titles:
O-Hoshisama no Rail
80 Minutes
General Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Drama, Historical
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