RowanHarper’s review published on Letterboxd:
Hello. It’s been a long time. I’ve been very busy with school recently and this week with the American election and all (Joe Biden won!!!), I’ve legitimately not had time to write any Letterboxd reviews. I’m still trying to catch up on my Halloween reviews, so bare with me there. I really wanted to review Grave of the Fireflies before I continue with that, because I watched it for the Sardonicast Podcast recommendation and I am really excited about it. So with that all said, here we go.
I’ve long since been an advocate for animated movies being judged with the same scrutiny and respect of live action films. Films like Up, Inside Out, Monsters Inc and Wall - E have proved the power of animation as a medium that can appeal to both children and adults. I can praise Pixar all day (and I have many times in the past), but when it comes to animation, there is not company that I feel tackles the art form with more creativity, love, and integrity that Studio Ghibli. When you watch a Ghibli film you are transported to another world. Grave of the Fireflies is not an exception in that sense, but it is a standout in Ghibli’s catalog because it’s absolutely not for children. Here, Ghibli took the same immersive techniques from their other films and applied it to a more adult setting. The result is phenomenal. Not only do I think Grave of the Fireflies is an absolute masterpiece, but I also think that it’s the perfect case for the legitimacy of animation as an art form in more mature cinema. This is one of those films I could talk about for hours. From the expressive and brutal animation to the beautifully written characters. Hell, even the title of this film is worth talking about. In the context of the film “Grave of the Fireflies” is one of the most beautiful, haunting, meaningful, and genius titles ever given to a film. The metaphor of fireflies and how it relates to these children is one of the most tragic things I’ve ever seen in cinema. And speaking of those children let’s talk about it. I love the idea of a war film that follows completely innocent children trapped in a terrible situation that they have no say in. Sure, we’ve had films show the affects of war on children, but before this I had never seen one with literal children as the main characters. Like a teenage boy and his toddler sister. You feel bad for both these characters, one because they are innocent children, but also the sort of parental relationship between this boy and his little sister is really sweet. You also understand the frustration here because despite living on the outskirts of a town with adults, they have no food and nowhere to go. It’s really more of a survival film than a war film, and it’s one of the most beautiful and meaningful ones I’ve ever seen. I also wanted to quickly add something, I’ve heard a lot of people say that this film didn’t necessarily need to be animated, I guess that’s true, but the animation adds so much here. The war imagery looks hauntingly beautiful in the anime style. The animation helps with the expressions of the characters in a way that a child actor simply couldn’t pull off. The COLORS. I mean come on, this definitely works better in animated form. Which, I will reiterate, is an adult medium as much as it is a children’s one.
All and all, Grave of the Fireflies is an absolute masterpiece. It is one of the most meaningful and powerful films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s truly perfect.
P.S, I forgot to mention the score. It’s one of the most beautiful and memorable ones I have heard in a while.
P.P.S I watched subbed, not dubbed.