Sunday, 2 November 2008
I used to admonish Mr G when he stayed up late and watched Japanese anime. It all backfired when one night, with nothing on telly, I watched my first Japanese anime and to bout, it was an offering from the famous Studio Ghibli. Ever since then, I have been a fan. If you want to give anime a go, I would recommend you start with GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES from Studio Ghibli, one of the finest anime created and one of the most touching war films ever made, anime or not. It is directed by Isao Takahata, who also wrote the screenplay.
Set in the aftermath of World War II, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES focuses on the lives of Setsuko and his young sister Seita and how they struggle against both the elements of wartime and a depreciating Japanese empire. The most striking thing about GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES is probably how real everything seems and it depicts the gravity of the era. I cried quite a few times during the course of the movie, and by saying this, I hope I have not put off any blokes that may be reading this – it is mushy, yes, but it deals with war, human emotions and sibling love – not the boy meets girl type of stuff!
With the Japanese empire in crisis and food shortages are a daily occurrence, it is heart breaking to see a brother struggle to make ends meet for his sister, who does not understand the gravity of the situation, especially when the children have had an idyllic childhood, sheltered from the war until the war finally arrives in Japan. Their lives crumble when the children lose their mother in a bombing and their father, whilst he is in service with the Japanese navy. To find out what happens to the children, I strongly recommend you watch GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. You can purchase it from most DVD stores or on line from JB HiFi.
FYI: The story is based on the semi-autobiographic novel by the same name, whose author, Akiyuki Nosaka (born 1930), lost his sister due to malnutrition in 1945 wartime Japan. He blamed himself for her death and wrote the story so as to make amends to her and help him accept the tragedy. Nosaka suffered a stroke in 2003 and although still struggling with the effects, he still writes a column for a famous Japanese newspaper, the Mainichi Shimbun.
Due to the graphic and truly emotional depiction of the negative consequences of war on society and the individuals therein, some critics have viewed GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES as an anti-war film.