Grave of the Fireflies
Tim Yang 4/2/13 JPN 211 During the Buffalo Film Seminar of Grave of the Fireflies by Isao Takahata, one can see World War II from the viewpoint and experiences of a Japanese survivor (Akiyuki Nosaka). The movie is about Seita, a sixteen years old boy, and Setsuko, his younger sister, and how they were forced to struggle in order to survive in the widespread famine and the heartless indifference of their extended family members and countrymen. Their mother died early in movie, after suffering burns and injuries from a firebombing related to the US B-29s and they were forced to live with their indifferent—inattentive aunt.
After taking his aunt’s insults for some time, Seita finally decided that he had enough and left with Setsuko. They found an abandoned bomb shelter nearby and decided to live there by themselves with some money they took from the bank from their deceased mother. Once they ran out of money, Setsuko started to become extremely malnourished and sick; so as a way to cure Setsuko, Seita resorted to stealing crops from farmers. Soon after, Seita learned that Japan lost the war and that his father died, losing all morale, his only purpose in life left was to make sure his sister survives.
Ultimately they both died, due to malnutrition and negligence of their countrymen. The movie shows how a society can become helpless and weak, and also fail to protect one another. Since the movie is a foreign film it also shows another perspective from a different culture and race. Grave of the Fireflies was beautiful made and it can bring better understanding, appreciation, and reflection upon the horrors of war and its aftermath as experienced by the Japanese people in WWII.