Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies ★★★★

Kudos to Madman Entertainment for releasing their Ghibli showcase in theaters. This'll be an exciting fortnight. Couldn't be happier that the morning session was entirely mine for Isao Takahata's unspeakably horrifying Grave of the Fireflies. I'm wrecked. Such an emotional totality is contributed by feelings of rage, sorrow, despair, fatigue and the possibility that there's a glimmering hope in another world. My gaze is immediately seared upon maggot-infested, bloody corpses which are charred to the pavement. Animation transcends to deeper feelings.

Antithetically, it's also beautiful to be reminded of a certain tenderness. All sequences featuring the red-hued fireflies are a richly-drawn stunner. And it's lovable (not infuriating) to be in the company of Setsuko's childish delirium for sweet foods. Soaring, orchestral dramatic cues are effectively accompanied in moments of elating happiness and wrenching despondence as well.

In the end, a realization plummets hard on this: you are watching a film about two children who are struggling towards starvation in Japan 1945. It'd be a disservice to primarily focus on the irresponsibility of Seita, ex post facto, as it's main concern is about what happens to innocents in a time of war. The agony lingers during and afterwards. Masterful.

Nick Vass liked this review