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Anime on DVD: Grave of the Fireflies Essential Collection
Grave ofthe Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies is probably one ofthe most important films to come out of Japan in animated form. Many times youwill find fans talking about the crossover appeal of shows such as Akira orGhost in the Shell, but if you're looking to make a lasting impact with only oneshot with someone, this is the film to do it.
And it's very much a film and not a movie, as its converts willattest to. To call it any less than a film and to hold it at the same level asother films like Citizen Kane and other timeless classics is an injustice. Thedirector, Isao Takahata, has adapted the film form the novel of the same name byAkiyuki Nosaka. With one exception, the film is very much a true transition frompage to screen. The book itself is semi-autobiographical, which was one of thethings that merited such a true translation from one media to the other.Taking place in the final weeks before theAmerican occupation of Japan, the country is still being firebombed by theAllies. Many post war survivors have commented on how much these firebombingincidents seemed like rains of fire. During one of the firebombings on Kobe, thestory focuses on young Seita and his younger sister Setsuko.
After fleeing their house with their mother and becoming separated,the two make their way through Kobe only to discover their mothers fate. Fromthere Seita takes it upon himself to be the man of what's left of his family andto contact his father who is in the military.And this is where the tragedy of the storybegins, as Seita sets to do everything himself and to take care of his sister.This is a very powerful and very emotional film, regardless of the fact that theopening sequence tells you exactly how it ends. Knowing this makes it evenworse, as you can see the mistakes made along the way by Seita. Some have called the film anti-American,but this is more a tale of two children and how the atrocities of war affectthem. Grave of the Fireflies has been shown in many schools in Japan with itbeing considered very educational for children and for being an effectivevehicle for teaching them their history. It's also a valuable lesson for thoseoutside of Japan both in terms of how people were affected by the war and forhow well done such a serious story can be brought to life in an animatedform.
Visit Nausicaa.net for more information on Grave of the Fireflies and other Takahata films.