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Grave of the Fireflies: Anime Film about War that Makes You Cry

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In 1988, the great anime movies by Hayao Miyazaki and the grave of the fireflies movie was a movie like that. This is an anime film about war that took a lot of tears from viewers. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Nosaka Akiyuki. The author wrote this novel in a semi-autobiographical form as an apology to his sister. This is an anime film about war that makes you cry.

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Grave of fireflies film’s plot

  • Movie Context

      Although it is a cartoon, the film has gloomy, sad, and brutal colors. The context mainly focuses on exploiting emotional depth rather than elements of surprise. That isn’t an anime movie simply, that’s also a film about war and people in war, the war between Japan and American after the end of World War II. 

   The film exposes the images of death and bombs in Japan during wartime. The whole of Japan is bloody with the wounds of war. The sound of aircraft engines groaning, shells screeching and people cry bitterly. The footsteps ran intertwined. Thien Hoang went to fight and leave the body in gray ashes.  Studio Ghibli movies are known for their beautiful lines and vibrant colors. But in the grave of the fireflies movie, the main color is gray, the green color is less, only the yellow light of the fireflies is always brilliant.

Why is Grave of the Fireflies a worth-watching anime movie?

  This anime film about war has given haunts in viewers’ hearts about two children. They were trying to survive, overcome bombs, bullets, chronic hunger, and sick pains. And the most frightening is a society where people ignore human love to survive. Whatever the reason, war remains the most obvious dark egos. through the war, we saw greed, jealousy, conservatism, and brutality.

  • Movie Plot

In 1988, the great director Takahata Isao created the Grave of the Fireflies movie, an anime film about war that took a lot of tears from viewers.

The Grave of the fireflies Ghibli is the story of two brothers Seita and Setsuko. This anime film about war has left a lot of haunts in viewers’ hearts about two children trying to survive, overcome bombs, bullets, chronic hunger, and sick pains. And the most frightening is a bitter society, where people ignored human love to survive.

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Whatever the reason, war remains the most obvious manifestation of human dark egos. War manifests greed, jealousy, conservatism, and most of all, brutality. War shows that once people have picked up weapons to kill each other, the dreadful consequences it causes are no longer just on the battlefield. Therefore, war is a topic that has never ceased to be controversial, even to this day, when most of us are still claiming to be living in peacetime. That is why Japan has many anime films about war that take away fans’ tears.

pain of war in Grave of the Fireflies
pain of war in Grave of the Fireflies

This anime film about war begins with a saying by Seita: “September 21, 1945, that is the day I died“. Meanwhile, Seita’s soul stared at his own corpses that were still dying a few moments ago in his chest. His clothes were ragged, his eyes were stunned, his stomach was wrinkled, so exhausted that nothing could be digested. People passed by avoiding him like they were in a dirty and stinking garbage dump. And he is not the only body lying there.

At the beginning was a line about death. The Grave of the Fireflies anime painted a mourning scene of a dark station with a lack of light. The starving people lie in the walkways of the living, and those who do the cleaning are bored as if seeing the dead body is a daily occurrence. In wartime, death is so ubiquitous, people’s lives are so cheap that they do not receive any grief from those who are still alive.

This anime film about war reverses time, when both Seita, Setsuko and her mother are separated to evacuate into a humid bunker to avoid the bombs being poured into the village. A cruel reality of wartime appears before the eyes of the viewer, planes bombarded the houses frantically. At that time, even a child like Setsuko knew how to cover her mouth and ears so as not to be deaf from the explosion. The citizens ran in disarray and took as much of their possessions with them as they could. A village that was still alive just a few minutes before that was turned to ash by bombs and bullets.

Grave of the Fireflies - anime movie about war
Grave of the Fireflies – anime movie about war

Human casualties were inevitable, as Seita watched her mother burn from head to toe and couldn’t survive. This is a very haunting detail. The film spends very little time on the mother’s interactions with the two brothers, but then immediately shows her body with sprawling bugs, eyes that cannot be opened purple lips. crumpled by fire. The two haunting opposites not only bring painful feelings but also show how fragile human life is under bombs and bullets.

Grave of the Fireflies movie- a great anime film about war, never stops from beginning to end showing the consequences that war has caused, especially famine. Hunger not only kills lives, but also makes people lose love, even for their relatives. Not only does Seita and Setsuko’s aunts take advantage of the remaining properties of the two children’s mothers in exchange for rice, but she also relentlessly sarcasm and crush them, affecting Seita’s self-esteem. She evenly made them had to leave. As a result, Seita and Setsuko had to live in a shelter. Beside the aunt, her children are the most obvious embodiment of a society where there is only coldness, selfishness, no longer the definition of sharing and sympathy.

The characters of  ‘Grave of the fireflies’

The main characters of  ‘Grave of the fireflies’ are 2 children: Seita (brother) and Setsuko (sister). This depicts the brutal face of war and its consequences. War not only takes away the childhoods of the children but also takes their lives.

Seita and her sister Setsuko return to live with their selfish aunt. She is always gnawing that food should be kept for her husband and children, who are working to serve the country, and that they are unjust. Whereas, they are just kids.

Out of self-esteem, Seita carried her away and went to an abandoned cellar that they considered home. His back was still carrying her, carrying all kinds of trinkets in his armpit, on his sister’s shoulder was a ragged umbrella. It seemed they had a home for themselves, but these innocent children would not be able to predict what the days would follow when they ran out of money, out of rice, and had no one to rely on. Those images add value to the anime film about war.

SEITA – Character image 

Seita is the character with the most complex and multidimensional psychological changes and struggles in this anime film about war. The viewers must have admired the boy very much, we rarely see Seita lose her temper when something happens. Even when bombs were hovering overhead, Seita calmly contemplated the fastest ways to save Setsuko’s life.

Seita character
Seita character

See loves his sister so much, he understands that Setsuko is the only relative still with him back then. Seita never speaks hard to her sister no matter how bland she is. He sang the chorus, took Setsuko to the beach, fed Setsuko fruit candies. Moreover, he did the smallest things just to make Setsuko happy, carefree in the clear laughter of a child. Seita always finds ways to keep his sister from getting hungry, including stealing food. He defies his life, runs against the flow of people to evacuate bombs, earning as many valuable things as possible in exchange for money for rice. Even when bombs and bullets took their mother, Seita still couldn’t allow herself to shed a single tear. Seita hid the truth about her mother’s death from Setsuki because Setsuko’s joy is the most precious thing he must protect.

SETSUKO – The inspirator

Little sister character Setsuko is the most powerful character in the movie. In the devastating war, this character always exuded innocence with crisp, clear laughter. She laughed even as the two brothers took off their clothes and left the aunt’s family to face the fiercely difficult life outside. Laughter makes people heartbreaking. Combined with that peaceful laughter is a cry that tears from the pain of loss and the pain of illness.

The other characters appearing in the film are all aimed at depicting human tragedy. The house was shattered, the family separated. The father of two children was fighting in the Imperial Japanese Navy, the mother died after a fierce bombing of the US Air Force in Kobe city. The image of a severely burned mother with white bandages wrapped all over her body, soaked in bright red blood is still haunting. The son embraces the urn containing the ashes of the mother, making the audience heavy. It seemed that the immature boy had to wriggle with himself to take on heavy responsibilities that adults have not fulfilled.

Setsuko character
Setsuko character

Why ‘Grave of fireflies makes people crying

There are many anime films about war and many movies with children as the main characters. But why is the ‘Grave of fireflies’ still so impressive? What took away the tears of the audience in this movie?

Touching scenes from Grave of the Fireflies
Touching scenes from Grave of the Fireflies

The film portrays the human tragedy of the war

    From the protagonist to the villain appearing in the film all exuding pity. The father of two children had to first join the army, the mother died after the bombing. Seita and Setsuko are living in love, suddenly orphan, wandering, and dying. Setsuko’s spirit image appearing at the beginning of the film tells the story of his own life that causes strong haunts.

The film shows the pitiful innocence of the children

The film is about kids, and the director wants them to be real kids. Therefore, here we still encounter innocent and innocent images of the Seita brothers. The cutest, most innocent but haunting image is Setsuko’s smile. The child’s laughter is calm at the grief, living in grief, and dying of pain makes us cry. With the setting up of a scene during the war, from which the images of the children were the loudest screams to protest and condemn war, Ghibli was really successful and captured the audience’s tears this anime film about war

Seita in Grave of the Fireflies
Seita in Grave of the Fireflies

The film has emotional little details

The film is not impressed by the unexpected turns in the storyline but by the humanistic small details. It’s the anime film about war that makes us feel love through some details such as:

Setsuko has a special hobby with fruit candies (Sakuma drops), orange-flavored candies, apples, grapes, watermelon, … to become a cure-all for her in poverty and death. After eating all the candies, she also poured water into the jars to get a cool, flavorful soda. This detail makes viewers think of adding water to almost all the sugar jars to take advantage of the remaining sugar particles, especially those who lived in difficult times in history. Only a small but true detail is enough to shake people’s hearts.

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Why is Grave of the Fireflies a worth-watching anime movie?