Grave Of The Fireflies makes me want to curl up in a corner and cry.

Most depressing anime ever.

Grave Of The Fireflies is a movie written and directed by Isao Takahata, with the help of Studio Ghibli’s animators. But don’t let the Ghibli association fool you; this ain’t no cheery Ghibli flick. This is World War II in Japan–this is hell on earth. This is the bitter tale of the relationship between two orphaned children, Seita and his younger sister Setsuko. The children lose their mother in the firebombing of Kobe, and their father in service to the Imperial Japanese Navy, and as a result they are forced to try to survive amidst widespread famine and the callous indifference of their countrymen. Even their relatives shrug them off, leaving them to fend for themselves.

The movie starts off in the home of a close and loving family in a time of war. The father has gone off to become a war hero aboard the Battleship Maya, but one day the mother receives word of her husbands passing. Soon after discovering the tragic news their town is firebombed, leaving Seito and Setsuko the only remaining survivors of the family. They go to their Aunt, but she doesn’t want them around because she’s having a hard enough time trying to keep her own family fed in this grueling time of war. Seito and Setsuko then leave and take up residence in an abandoned shelter where they struggle to stay alive. After selling the last of their mothers clothes and various other belongings they must resort to thievery to get enough to food to merely put off starvation another day.

Malnutrition from the extremely minimal diet eventually takes the life of Seito’s sister at the very young age of 4, leaving Seito all alone in the world with nothing to live for and nothing to keep him living. He spends his last days in shock and dismay–he has given up on life. He eventually just lays down and lets death take him from the distressing and spiteful world that took the rest of his family.

This is by far the most depressing movie I have ever seen in my life, but it has such a powerful and profound story. I think this movie should be required viewing for anyone, but be prepared for the worst; this movie will twist your heart until you want to reach into your chest and pull it out yourself just to end the pain.

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  • rico

    I saw this and was really moved by it, more people should watch this, especially those who think only soldiers suffer during war! BTW, I really like Hayao Miyazaki’s new film Ponyo on a Cliff. Ghibli studios is the best.

  • Stephen Belanger

    I haven’t seen it yet but it looked really good when I read about it a few months back. It’s hand painted isn’t it?

  • jim

    Something to remember…anime is being used to ‘speak out’ on political issues, especially to youth.
    There is a tendency to revise history also.
    War is what happens when politicians are willing to sacrifice the citizens of any country to achieve their own goals.
    What we have to remember is that the victor gets to write history, not the losers…those who die or are maimed.
    When you watch anime, especially war…don’t forget the truths…some are saying that the Japanese were victims, were atomic bombed because they were an inferior race.
    I grew up in Japan, my mother is Japanese, retired military, historian and manga writer…the Japanese people let the govt take away their power, and paid the price.
    No, they didn’t deserve to die as they did, but they did receive in kind. War reduces humanity to a level that animals don’t resort to.
    Enjoy anime for what it is, but don’t forget it is also entertainment. If you want to make it a tool to teach and learn from, then do it with facts, not emotion.

  • Naruto

    I wanted to comment and thank the author, good stuff

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