- St Alban's R.C. High School
- Review Date
- 21 November, 2016
In 1988, Isao Takahata created a spectacular war film focusing on the story of a brother and his younger sister (named Seita and Setsuko, respectively). It is set during the final months of the Second World War and this story taking place within the brutal environment of wartime Japan is told masterfully and powerfully.
The character of Seita is one that is cocky but highly vulnerable. The fragility of his personality is something that is extremely painful to watch as he attempts to take care of his innocent and ignorant younger sister, Setsuko. Both Tsutomo Tatsumi (Seita) and Ayano Shiraishi (Setsuko) are exceptional in the Japanese dub, as they manage to convincingly humanise their characters and you have a much grander understanding of what most families would be like during the traumatic time of the Second World War.
During the 1980s, a golden era of animation, I feel as if Grave of the Fireflies was overshadowed by both Akira and My Neighbour Totoro. I believe that Akira and My Neighbour Totoro are timeless films with such beautiful hand-drawn animation, fantastic scores and very realised characters but Grave of the Fireflies is something much more. Its message is universal. War can affect us at any time and destroy everything in a matter of days. That is what this films captures so superbly; the harsh effects of war and how it can consume the most innocent people, even the ones we love.
The brilliant writing, magnificent voice performances, the beautiful hand-drawn animation and the wonderful direction makes Grave of the Fireflies one of the greatest and the most heartbreaking films I have ever seen.