Grave of the Fireflies


Take this inoculation against warmongering. Think of Madeline Albright’s “price was worth it” quote, the US blockade of Iran, and the Israeli blockade of Gaza, then watch the autobiography-based Studio Ghibli anime Grave of the Fireflies in which a 5 year old girl slowly dies of malnutrition after her mother is napalmed to death by Curtis LeMay and company during our “Good War.”

Or at least read this great 4-star review by Roger Ebert.

30 thoughts on “Grave of the Fireflies”

  1. I watched this as a child, and don't know if I have the stomach to ever repeat the experience. It is amazing, however.

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  2. It is one of the great films about war immorality, and beautiful at the same time. I would put it in a class with The Bicycle Thief for greatness, But it is not for children. It is also monumentally depressing.

    1. It isn't for children, and yet, I am glad I watched it as a child. Same with (slightly more war-porny, but still bleak as hell) films like "Glory."

      I suspect watching things like that helped me know that war is a racket, long before I ever heard that phrase.

    2. why not for children? i watched with my two kids 8/6. sure the themes are deep and a lot of questions had to be answered but why hide this from them? keep them from watching crap like Sponge Bob! Embrace this art form and true depth.

  3. I have this on my list to show to my son some day. Perhaps, when he is 9 or 10.

  4. A beautiful, harrowing film—and, yes, kids should definitely see it. It is never too early to start cultivating a capacity for moral imagination. Films (as well as literature and other art forms) which humanize wartime "enemies," demonstrate the universality of human suffering and in other ways broaden and de-propagandize tender young minds are indispensable aids in helping children develop this all-too-rare faculty; parents and real, conscientious educators should make liberal use of them.

    Thanks, Mr. Sanchez, for reminding me—and everyone else—of this antiwar classic. It's been over a decade since I last saw it, so it's about time for a rewatch. Actually, I think it's time for a Studio Ghibli marathon!

    BTW, maybe you and some of the other contributors could occasionally showcase other great antiwar films here at the AWC blog? That'd be really neat. You could cover all the classics—and maybe even unearth some forgotten gems.

    1. Honestly, I love that idea.

      And I swear it won't just be WATCH 'THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY' every five minutes. But it will also be that a little bit.

      1. I'll look forward to your entries, Ms. Steigerwald! And I can't believe I haven't seen The Americanization of Emily. Thanks for the reminder: I've queued it up on Netflix. As far as comedic (anti)war movies go, I guess my favorite—so far, anyway—is King of Hearts (1966).

    1. It's on my list, but I have to say, I don't particularly like Anime in itself, but that shouldn't stop you from watching "Fireflies." The Roger Ebert review says as much.

      (I also love "Cowboy Bebop" which has nothing to do with war, but meets important motley crew of space explorers and anti-heros needs.)

    2. Anime, like everything else, is definitely subject to Sturgeon's Law Still, what's good is often surprisingly so—and this includes some potent antiwar stuff. One television series—or rather several series—in this vein worth mentioning are the Yoshiyuki Tomino-created and (in the case of the best ones) -directed Gundam Series, all set in his future "Universal Century" world. Dealing with conflicts between earth and its space colonies and their impacts on a number of luckless (though often remarkable) civilians and soldiers, these shows deal graphically with many of the results of war: mass civilian casualties (big time!), the misdirection of human resources and technology toward destructive ends, authoritarianism, ecological damage, the perversion of human nature and the loss of human potential, the destruction of families, etc. Giant robots, though definitely present, seem almost incidental to the narratives. And as far as governments are concerned, there are no good guys.

      Incidentally, Cartoon Network was running the original series, Mobile Suit Gundam(1979-80), when the US invaded Iraq in '03. The show was promptly pulled from the air.

      Anyway, these are definitely worth seeing—if one is so inclined . . . but "de gustibus non disputandum" and all that.

  5. Should not the killing of 500000 or more Iraqi children, Madeline Albright’s “price was worth it” ,termed genocide??

  6. Black Rain is also an amazing film. Imamura supposedly had to make the film in black and white because the introductory sequence of the attack upon Hiroshima would have been too disturbing in color.

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  8. While one really can't call it anti-war, the current BBC version of "Doctor Who" frequently deals with the morality of violence and the consequences for those who engage in it. In series 8 last year, the episode "Kill the Moon" was an effective allegory that addressed how people are more prone to engage in genocidal violence because of fear. In series 7, "The Day of the Doctor" confronted the audience with the horror of a calculated genocide.

  9. This is not an anti-war movie. Isao Takahata has said so repeatedly. Please stop using this man's art to further a cause it was never intended to further.

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