Memories from Japan: Grave of the Fireflies
For thirty years, Studio Ghibli has been one of the most important animation studios in the world. One of the first movies created by this studio is Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata, set during World War II
For thirty years, Studio Ghibli has been one of the most important animation studios in the world. One of the first movies created by this studio is Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata, set during World War II and shows the terrible reality of Japan during the bombings.
The movie is based on the novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, who had lost his younger sister during the war, and illustrates the extreme misery of Japan during that period. Takahata’s movie is about the story of Seita and his younger sister Setsuko. After the death of their mother and the collapse of their house, they are looked after by their aunt for a few days but she doesn’t have enough food for them so, eventually, they have to find another place to survive.
Seita and Setsuko find happiness in the strong bond between them. Seita wants to take care of his little sister and is happy when he sees her smiling. They share many moments of joy in which they seem to forget about the war and all its sorrows. They’re happy just being together and still feel like a family, despite everything that’s happened to them.
Their love is the only uncorrupted thing in a world destroyed by bombs; a world where human madness is the cause of a senseless war. Japan has no more power, its army is defeated and its ground is completely covered by dead bodies. Takahata does not hide anything from the eyes of the spectator. He shows the cruelty of death and the indifference of the adults in front of the pain of Seita and Setsuko, who are only two innocent children.
Grave of the Fireflies, just like Nosaka’s novel, is a strong critique of a country that, by the end of the war, had lost its sense of humanity. Every drawing, every single frame of the movie, forces us to remember that there is no glory in war, only sadness.
Seita and Setsuko represent beauty and love but they are like fireflies: they bring light to the world yet are fragile and require sustenance to survive.
Writers: Isao Takahata (based on the novel by Akiyuki Nosaka)
Cast: Tsutomu Tatsumi (Seita), Ayano Shiraishi (Setsuko), Yoshiko Shinohara (Mother), Akemi Yamaguchi (Aunt)