I’m not crying…you’re crying…
Whoa, that was an experience. Grave of the Fireflies was the next film in the list of Studio Ghibli movies, written and directed by Isao Takahata, and this one was a heart-aching tale of two young kids in Japan trying to survive the final few months of World War II.
Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of two young siblings, Seita and Setsuko, whose father was fighting the war and whose mother was killed in an enemy firebombing of their village. This put brother and sister alone to face the struggles of life compromised by war.
We know what type of story this is going to be with the heart-wrenching opening to the film. After that, the remainder of the movie is told in flashback, showing us how the situation arrived at what it did.
Older brother Seita took his little sister Setsuko to live with their aunt after the bombing. The aunt was not a very empathetic individual towards the children. In fact, there were not very many adults portrayed in this movie as being kind or helpful. The adults could not find the time to help these children, showing that their own personal problems outweighed the needs of others.
Isao Takahata has claimed that this movie is not an “anti-war” film, but it would be difficult to argue that the themes of Grave of the Fireflies are not directly influenced from the consequences of the war and its effects on society and its point of view of the results.
The animation is haunting throughout the movie. There were a couple of moments (Setsuko at the doctor) where I literally gasped at the images shown me. The metaphor of the fireflies was both beautifully and painfully portrayed.
Grave of the Fireflies is unlike most animated movies you see. It usually shows you the power of the underdog overcoming odds planted before them. This film gives you the anguish of seeing the other side of that coin. This is a masterpiece.