The protagonists in Antarctica are Taro and Jiro, two dogs that are part of a team of fifteen huskies used on a Japanese Antarctica expedition in 1958. Their masters during the mission are Ushioda and Ochi, two scientists. The sled dogs become invaluable friends to the men, who are sad to leave when a second exploration party arrives by ship.
Because of a terrible blizzard, Ushioda and Ochi are evacuated. The dogs are left behind to await the new group. That expedition, however, is canceled. Taro and Jiro, chained to posts in the ice, manage to pull themselves free: seven other huskies are not so lucky. The dogs struggle to find food in the frozen wastes.
Back in Japan, Ushioda and Ochi cannot assuage the guilt they feel for abandoning the dogs. When another expedition is formed, they sign up. Expecting to bury the corpses of their frozen friends, they find instead that Taro and Jiro have survived an entire year on their own.
Antarctica is a fascinating film on several levels. First, it pays tribute to the survival instincts of these two dogs. The account of their handlers points out the deep bonds that can exist between animals and humans. And the film, based on fact, gives an interesting visual portrait of Antarctica's unusual environment. Akira Shiizuka's eye-inveigling cinematography and the music by Vangelis add special luster to this Japanese movie.