GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (1988) (****)

17 06 2007
Check Out the Trailer
Check Out the Trailer

Chuck Jones is often credited to the quote, “if you can do it in live-action than it shouldn’t be animated.” With today’s technology this solid rule has weakened, but for this 1988 anime feature there is nothing in it that would have kept it from being a live-action feature at the time of production. So why make it an animated feature? As a director I wouldn’t want to put real children through the torture that these children must endure during the U.S. fire bombing of Japan during WWII. This heartrending feature is the most emotional devastating feature I’ve ever seen. It’s also one of the best animated features I’ve ever seen.

The story begins at the end with Seita, a 14-year-old boy, dying alone is a train depot. After this, we flashback to him living with his sick mother and his 4-year-old sister Setsuko. During one bombing Seita and Setsuko are separated from their mother, who is severely burned and eventually succumbs to her injuries. With their father away in the Navy, Seita and Setsuko go to live with their selfish aunt, uncle and cousin. Their aunt cares little for them, barely paying them attention unless to tell them how worthless they are or to take advantage of them. It gets to the point when the siblings must go out on their own.

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