Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies ★★★★

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Review In A Nutshell:

So many films when covering the second world war, takes on the perspective of the Americans, French, British and Jewish, but Grave of the Fireflies does something daring by exploring the effects that the war had on its victims. It doesn't follow the soldiers of the war, we don't actually see any warfare conflict between two sides at all, and instead what we get are an accurate reflection of the helpless victims that were under attack by bombs falling from the sky. This film came close in being excellent but a couple nit-picks prevented it from being so.

Grave of the Fireflies starts itself off slow, which is the core reason why I couldn't entirely fall in love with this film. Though the images that we are presented with look emotional, I never at a point felt it. If it gave us a little more insight on how much this event has affected them, showing more of what both protagonists, Seita and Setsuko, has lost then I probably would have been emotionally invested. Once all of that is over, and it moves onto the both of them staying with their auntie, then I started to understand why this film is brilliant. It is so damn heartbreaking to watch these two kids struggle and forced into a position of being independent. Both only have each other and the older sibling has taken up all of the responsibilities that a parent would normally have to carry. The film then reaches to a third act that would normally have me crying, if in the right mood and mindset, and it delivers a final frame that metaphorically speaks about the recovery of Japan after this horrible tragedy.

The animation in this film is not the same that would be found in a Hayao Miyazaki film, as it takes a more realistic visual style and atmosphere. The element of fantasy is limited here and only applied in emphasising its metaphors. Grave of the Fireflies will definitely not be the film I would first think of when it comes to beauty in animation but I can say it is one of the most effective. The music in this film was strong when it comes on but during the times of silence, the film felt emotionally dwindled.

Grave of the Fireflies is one of those rare films that use the animated medium as a tool to emphasise the film's theme rather than a platform for exaggerated imagination. The film intends to be serious with its story and immerses us into feeling genuine emotions. I cannot say whether or not my feelings for this film would be consistent during subsequent viewings, but as of now I can certainly say that Grave of the Fireflies is an impressive, emotional and genuine entry from both Isao Takahata and Studio Ghibli.

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