“Why must fireflies die so young?” – Setsuko
Based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka, Grave of the Fireflies is a tragic film which follows the story of a young boy Seita and his little sister Setsuko who are struggling to survive in Japan during the final months of World War II. Their father is a naval officer fighting in the pacific while they are cared for by their mother in Kobe, Japan until the American firebomb the city killing their mother. Orphaned and alone Seita and Setsuko are sent to live with their aunt who at first welcomes them in before turning hostile towards the two incumbents as food rations become scarce. Seita and Setsuko strike out alone living in an abandoned shelter and capture fireflies at night to light of the hark cave. Times grow grim for the siblings as the little food they have runs out and there tragic desperate struggle to survive becomes ever more grim.
I had first thought this to be a propaganda filled exploit of the second World War from the Japaneese point of view but as I watched I realized that the innocents of War fall on both sides and that the human cost is universal. Its not about heroic soldiers or epic battles on land sea or air it was about the struggles of a people, of a brother and sister and tragic and everyday fight for survival in a world that had forgotten them.The films score was composed by Michio Mamiya and is beautifully in tune with the film. The direction and visuals are thought evoking, mesmerizing and fragile. The innocence of a younger sister kept alive y the burden carried by her older brother is a testament to the love that this movie holds in its heart.
Why did I choose this movie? Well after watching the Anime film Children who chase lost voices, I was compelled to venture in again on some Japanese Anime this time from the late 80s when the style was much different. I have become a real fan of Anime movies as of late and set special time aside to really enjoy the movies I choose. There is so much to capture between the artwork of the visuals to the emotional story’s they paint. I am stunned at just how moving this movie was, tears came to my eyes more than once and it left me with a deep sense of loss and sadness but also hope. The core of this move is love, the love of a protective big brother who would do anything for his sister and the love of a younger sister who looks up to and adores her brother. The films focus is very much on the personal story of these two siblings and what war brought to them. It is an achingly sad, profoundly beautiful and deeply moving story that I urge all of you to watch.
My Rating: A*
I Own This Movie