Grave Of The Fireflies is one show I almost never recommend to people, mostly because I fought hard to forget it the day I watched it.
But that is only because I am a coward who generally avoids negative emotions. So, why would I recommend it as a starting point for an anime novice?
Well, this recommendation is aimed at that man or woman, girl or boy that has tried and failed to take anime seriously.If you cannot bring yourself to take anime s eriously, then you will never watch it; even if you do, your intrinsic biases will keep you from truly appreciating it.
Some novices just need a savage kick in all the painful places; and that is what Grave Of The Fireflies is: a steel-toed boot guaranteed to shake all those anti-anime biases out of you.
Grave Of The Fireflies is a movie. That should make it far more accessible to people unwilling to commit to several episodes of a season of an anime series. Most people can afford to spare an hour and a half to consume this gloomy, haunting, yet beautifully told story.
Directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli – a studio that specializes in prodding, poking and pulling at the heartstrings – Grave Of The Fireflies takes you to Japan.
It is March 1945. World War II is in full swing and Seita is just another teenager trying to carve out a semblance of normalcy. The times are tough, but Seita, his five-year-old sister Setsuko and their mother are alive, and that is more than most people can say.
All that changes when American planes bomb Japan’s most populated cities with napalm. The canisters, though seemingly innocuous and almost beautiful as they descend to the earth, trailing fluttering cloth behind them, unleash a storm of wildfire that consumes Setia’s neighborhood.
Overnight, Seita and Setsuko watch their lives crumble around them. What follows over the next hour or so is a DISTURBING journey that explores the horrors of war.
Seita and Setsuko watch as their society initially attempts to rally together in an effort to counter the chaos seeded by the Americans, only for food shortages to make monsters out of even the humblest of individuals.
It took me three tries to watch Grave Of The Fireflies, mostly because the first 10 minutes always promised a dark and depressing tale I was not willing to experience. I finally watched it, though.
I cannot say I regretted it. The movie leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But you know what? I dare you young woman, old man, or little girl who thinks so little of anime to watch Grave Of The Fireflies.
I dare you to sit through this brutal depiction of the evils of war and then come back to me and dismiss anime as just a childish fad.
Grave Of The Fireflies came out in 1988, but will go toe to toe with any live-action movie of this genre you throw at it, be it Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge.