I was browsing through Pinoyexchange.com last night when I stumbled upon one thread that asks for the members’ top animated movies of all time. Disney and Pixar movies, predictably, dominated most everyone’s list but there were a few who listed interesting titles: Grave of the Fireflies and Spirited Away. I have already seen the latter and I agree that it deserves to be on the all-time list. As a matter of fact, it had won Best Animated Feature in the 2003 Oscar Awards. The former, I learned later on, is also a Japanese film. They were all-praises for the movie but they also said it is an animated movie that you wouldn’t want to watch again. Profound but haunting and depressing, they said.
Grave of the Fireflies opens on an evening in 1945, after Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II; and in a train station, the young Seita dies alone. The rest of the movie tells us, in flashback, how things have come to this. Seita and Setsuko are two young Japanese children growing up in the waning days of World War II. Much to Seita’s pride, their father is in the Japanese navy, and they live fairly content lives in Kobe despite rationing and the other privations of war. When their mother dies from burns suffered during an American fire-bombing raid, a distant aunt takes them in — and conflict eventually forces the children to try to survive on their own. At first, Seita and his little sister enjoy their idyllic lives in the country, but harsh reality eventually settles in as Seita begins to understand the difficulties of taking care of a young child when both food and compassion are scarce. ~ Emru Townsend, Rovi
I checked if some kind soul uploaded it on Youtube. Luckily, there’s one. It’s almost midnight. I thought I needed some bedtime story.
If there’s anything I would like to add to all the positive reviews about the movie, I’d say that although I was not moved to tears like the others (but that was most probably because I watched it in low resolution, thanks to our reliable internet connection) it unexpectedly stirred my heart, left it unsettled, and I was still thinking about Seita and Setsuko and the war the morning after. The storytelling made it not hard for me to empathize with Seita and Setsuko and the animation certainly did not get in the way of the experience. The fear of war and its nasty repercussions on what would otherwise be a normal, free, and happy life haunted me and nagged at me… until now.
“Why must fireflies die so young?” asked Setsuko.