April 24, 2012

Anime Review: Grave of the Fireflies

Another great classic anime by Studio Ghibli once again. Grave of the Fireflies is another touching story that will definitely affect your emotions one way or another.

Grave of the FirefliesSynopsis:
In the aftermath of a World War II bombing, two orphaned children struggle to survive in the Japanese countryside. To Seita and his four year old sister, the helplessness and indifference of their countrymen is even more painful than the enemy raids. Through desperation, hunger and grief, these children's lives are as heartbreakingly fragile as their spirit and love is inspiring.

What would you do if you lived through World War II and the family you have left is your sister. What would you do? The story of Seita protecting and caring for his sister and himself whilst encountering helplessness, desperation, hunger and grief, is one that will break your heart. Grave of the Fireflies is not a fairy tale despite Seita's attempts to make Setsuko think that they are living in one. The film sadly follows their lives in this bunker where they don't battle soldiers and warmongers, but try to battle scabs, starvation and sorrow. In an interesting light, despite the very graphic and violent scenes that the movie opens with, the rest of the movie does not deal with fighting and war, but more of the war's impact on these two children. As you watch you will feel a sense of attachment to the pair as they struggle to the end.

Art and animation for this movie are truly beautiful even though the film was made in the '80s; yet it still looks amazing. The film is gruesomely detailed, showing the exact look of a body burned beyond recognition, the little nits and lice that thrive from destitute and unhygienic living conditions, the bones pressing against skin that has been denied nourishment. There's something darkly, hauntingly beautiful about the artwork for this anime. The character design is realistic, and watching Seita and Setsuko, well, it could be any two Japanese children. Which I think means a lot more in the grander picture: how many boys and girls just like them have been victims of the second World War? Possibly more than we truly want to know.

Grave of the Fireflies has an excellent soundtrack. The technical aspects of this film are near perfection. The score utilises melancholy sounds, but it understands the quality of silence just as well. There are few silent scenes in anime that have managed to bombard a listeners' very emotions. But where there is no vitality, where there is no life, then there is no sound. And when it's all over, the bustle and noise of life continuing swells and crashes. Grave of the Fireflies captures that perfectly.

Seita is truly a hero in all our hearts. His many attempts to save his sister, Setsuko, really encourages us to motivate ourselves in overcoming seemingly impossible problems in life. Setsuko is just naturally cute and innocent. The way that these to interact with each other truly brings out the love between siblings- how one must protect the other. The characters were few, but the impact was great.

Overall, it was a touching and emotionally saddening film to watch. The horrors of war cannot be fully describe in text, and must be shown through beautiful artwork and melancholy music. It is one film that you will not forget even after you have watched it a long time ago. It really impacted me and I definitely will not forget the film. Another great masterpiece by Studio Ghibli.

A touching story of brother and sister surviving in the aftermath of war.

ART: 8
Beautifully illustrated and animated.

An excellent soundtrack that indirectly affects the viewer's emotions.

Charming and cute characters that will sure to leave an imprint in your memory.

It is truly a tragic film, its sad but enjoyable.

Another great film by Studio Ghibli that successfully brings out the horror of war.