AKA: Hotaru No Haka; Tomb of the Fireflies
Directed by: Isao Takahata
Country: Japan, Asian Cinema
Language: Japanese (English Subtitles)
Genres: Anime-Animation, Based on a True Story, Misery-Depressing, Siblings
Plot – Spoilers:
Set in WW2 Japan and based on a semi-autobiographical account, Grave of the Fireflies follows the lives of Seita and his little sister Setsuko during the firebombing raids by the Allies on Japan. Their mother dies in one of the raids and the two go to live with an aunt on their father’s side. Father is a navy man and missing in war duty and the siblings now have the arduous task of surviving wartime Japan where food is scarce and tempers are short. Seita is protective of Setsuko and diligently takes care of all her little needs. The two for the most part are happy in their own childish world even when their aunt begins to regret taking on a couple of extra hungry mouths.
Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most beautiful and artistic works ever put out. It tries to focus on the good for the most part but there are enough hints to suggest a darker underside.
Random Thoughts – Massive Spoilers:
The darker underside involves Setsuko dying from malnutrition. There are moments where it is suggested that the urge to survive led Seita, at times, to eat the bulk of the food that was available, until he realized Setsuko was dying of starvation. This also perhaps explains why, at the start of the movie, we see Seita starved and dying – he comes across as a resourceful fighter, so he surely would have found a way to survive after Setsuko’s death. But it seems like the will to live had guiltily died in him.