Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)
A tragic film covering a young boy and his little sister's struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.
The Second World War has been such a huge inspiration for movies that it is almost impossible not to think of a War film without thinking of this particular Historical Event. As a Historian myself, I learned to understand the facts and the horror that happened. However, I will never know what it is to be in the center of a War as a soldier or a civilian. Well, I hope I’ll never witness any of these. Some War films depict the conflicts and battles with great action scenes and how it is a thrill to fight the bad guys. More recent War films put us of the side of the losers of the War. Very few showed us the casualties of war like Grave of the Fireflies. With that said, it is more than essential to know that this movie was animated by the Ghibli studios. Keeping it far from the Disney pictures themes that we are acquainted to.
Opening with Seita’s death in a subway station, a young Japanese boy of more or less fourteen we know that we are in for a very tough moment. From that point we see the bombing of his town, the death of his mother, his struggle to survive and care for his little sister of approx five years old. Even if it pictures the final moments of Japan into War against the Americans, Grave of the Fireflies is filled with wonderful moments between the two siblings. Moments of innocence, happiness, sadness, and desperation.
It is a film that deals with problems that children should never encounter and that we hope that will never be repeated. It would not be recommended to show this film to children even if sometimes kids are surprisingly strong facing extreme moments.
Finally, I might be one of the few that is not a fan of anime and that doesn’t get the films of the studios Ghibli. Not being a fan doesn’t mean that I hate them I just think that it is not the ultimate thing. I like the approach and the originality that it brings to animation, it’s just that I am okay with seeing the film but I won’t be buying it or watching it again. Even if I think that the IMDb Top 250 is filled with overrated films (Grave of the Fireflies is ranked #106 as I am writing those lines) it is still worth a look.