In the 1980s, Japanese animation shifted its focus away from the social self and toward cosmic subjectivity, the framing of intensely personal emotions within the larger impersonal expanse of the universe. This essay examines an important moment in this shift: Night on the Galactic Railroad, anime studio Group TAC’s 1985 feature based on the classic Japanese children’s tale by Miyazawa Kenji. The film emphasizes the interpenetration of the microcosmic and macrocosmic through a range of experiments with “limited” animation, sound design, and character design that would in turn influence the imaginary worlds of later anime.

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