“Every war is a war against children” – Eglantyne Jebb.
The late film critic and historian Roger Ebert declared Grave of the Fireflies to be one of the greatest war films ever made.
Grave of the Fireflies, a 1988 film written and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli, is based on Akiyuki Nosaka’s 1967 semi-autobiographical short story.
Previously, Studio Ghibli was known for lighthearted classics such as Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro. The arrival of the film forever altered this vision. More information can be found in our Grave of the Fireflies review!
Grave of the Fireflies Review!
Nosaka’s adoptive father died in the firebombing, and his younger adoptive sister Keiko died in Fukui from malnutrition. The story was written to express my personal regrets to Keiko. The screenplay was written by Isao Takahata. The story takes place in the Japanese city of Kobe.
The film depicts the desperate struggle of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, to survive during the final months of World War II. The film’s/theme story’s is represented by fireflies, who have very little time to live, and depicts that happiness is about a few moments in life.
Though most people regard the story as the saddest or most tragic film ever made, we believe it is told in a neorealist tradition rather than melodrama. The author of Japanamerica, Roland Kelts, described this film as tragic but “mesmerizingly beautiful.”
Nosaka Akiyuki, a teenager during WWII, whose younger sister Keiko died of hunger, and whose life has been overshadowed by guilt, his burden clearly reflected in his story. Every detail of the story and the characters’ actions are perfectly reasonable. In Japan, the book is well-known.
This is not your typical animation story. However, we believe that the 1988 animation was far superior to the 2005 film for Grave of the Fireflies. Takahata was able to focus on the essence of the story thanks to animation, and he was able to beautifully escape the visual realism.
Even though the film delivered a powerful emotional punch with those subtle visuals, our imaginations were given more room to roam. As his animated characters were liberated from the literal facts of real actors, we were able to more easily identify with them.
The cinematography in this film is one of its best features. The flow of the story was determined by silence and patience. Shots were taken slowly, characters were seen for extended periods of time, and the atmosphere and nature took their time to establish themselves and make an impression on the audience.
The timing and use of silence in a scene where they discover a dead body on the beach is proof of this. Another scene shows Setsuko preparing ‘dinner’ for her brother by making ‘rice balls’ out of mud and offering them to him while she was dying.
Japanese poets employ “pillow words,” which fall somewhere between pauses and punctuation. The great director Yasujiro Ozu is well-known for using “pillow shots,” a natural detail, to separate two scenes. Grave of the Fireflies also used them to create such poetic imagery.
Individual scenes displayed the amazing beauty of the city, which contradicted the film’s mood and heightened the disaster. Seita found his little sister carefully burying the dead insects, as she remembered her mother was buried, and that moment hit Seita and the audience as well.
Hayao Miyazaki is the godfather of animation, and he and his team did an incredible job on this film. Although Miyazaki is the face of Studio Ghibli, few people have heard of Michio Yasuda, who coloured many notable Studio Ghibli films.
Studio Ghibli is well-known for its evocative landscape illustrations. With their enormous eyes, childlike bodies, and features of great plasticity (mouths are tiny when closed, but enormous when opened; we could even see Setsuko’s tonsils while she cried), the characters are typical of much modern Japanese animation.
This film demonstrated that animation has far greater emotional impact than live-action films, not by reproducing reality, but by simplifying and emphasising it. This film demonstrated that animation is about ideas rather than experiences.
The music for this film was composed by Michio Mamiya. Mamiya’s interest in Japanese folk music inspired him to write several choral works that included traditional elements. He is best known for his opera, Narukami (1974), which “won a Grand Prix at the Salzburg Opera Festival.”
Michio Mamiya’s tragic melodies for this film significantly enhanced the tone and progression of the film. Mamiya’s music complemented the depiction of Japanese culture in this film.
This film/story teaches us that war benefits no one except political power. We are still living in a war zone, and the war has had an impact on each of our worlds, either directly or indirectly.
We believe you have not yet recovered from the ongoing war, which began in February of this year, or a long time before that. Grave of the Fireflies is a powerful classic of all time that will be debated until the evil war is eradicated from our planet.
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