#198 / 365 – ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ (1958) – 89 mins
IMDb Challenge #119 / 250 – Ranked #123 – Via DVD
Seita and Setsuko are brother and sister living in wartime Japan. After their mother is killed in an air raid they find a temporary home with relatives. Having quarreled with their aunt they leave the city and make their home in an abandoned shelter. While their soldier father’s destiny is unknown, the two must depend on each other to somehow keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. When everything is in short supply, they gradually succumb to hunger and their only entertainment is the light of the fireflies.
The opening line of Grave of the Fireflies is – “In 1945, on the night of September 21, I died.” – teenage Seita, starves to death in the street, whilst commuters walk around him. From here the rest of the story is told through flashback on how Seita reached this sad point, returns to his family home, how Seita and Setsuko are made homeless.
The Grave of the Fireflies is an anti-war film that examines two peoples lives during World War II, it’s a film about pride, guilt and struggle, but it is also a film about love. Seita loves his little sister, and he is her world. Whilst Grave of the Fireflies is emotionally haunting in places, the film does have some joyous moments; sunny days spent on the beach and when Seita and Setsuko fill a cave full of Fireflies before this turns to sadness, hence the title.
To be honest, before I started out on this challenge in January, I had never watched a Studio Ghibli film before, or in fact not even an Anime feature itself.
But now I have seen three pieces (with more on the way in, ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ and ‘Spirited Away’) of work from the studio, this, Howl’s Moving Castle and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.