09 March 2006

Disappearing Ink #3 - Grave of the Fireflies

One of the saddest movies ever made is also one of the best. Perhaps you are feeling particularly upbeat and need to come down, this is the movie for you. Originally released in 1988 as part of a manic depressive double feature with My Neigbor Totoro, this film is about two children's struggle to survive after their mother is killed in the firebombings of Kobe Japan during WWII. The film does not make an enemy out of the American's or any other nation, it simply represents the realities of War, and there are no tanukis or totoros that make everything better in the end. This definitely is NOT a cartoon show for kids. This gloomy backdrop makes the developing relationship between 14-year-old Seita, and his little sister Setsuko all the more touching.

This movie was among the first anime films I ever saw. When it ended, I was stunned with the thought, "that was not a cartoon." Not to knock the Walt Disney Corporation, but Disney has really set in Americans minds expectations for what an animated film should be. Fireflies shatters those expectations and provides a whole new scope of what we should expect. Every film produced by the Japanese Studio Ghibli is worth seeing, but none will move you like Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies. The only negative thing I can say is that this is not the kind of movie you are going to watch over and over. But when you do watch it, it will stay with you for quite a long time. This is a definite A.

Check out my past reviews:
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy


Bunny Dee said...

Yep, it's a really moving film... I watched it yeeears ago, back when Akira caused the first "anime boom", and it's still one of my personal faves.
Not my top-1, but definitely in my top-10 of anime films.

Chip Chief said...

Akira was another one of the first anime movies I saw. All I remember is that one of the guys got really big, sort like Violet in Charlie in the Chocolate Factort -- only way bigger and grosser. Im not even sure that happened at all, but thats what I remember from the film. I really should revisit Akira, since I am a lot more accustomed to anime weirdness now than I was then.

Anonymous said...

If you do decide to revisit Akira make sure you see the VHS Version. While the DVD has re-mastered video and audio that is wonderful the new dialogue suffers. Apparently when the film was being re-dubbed (the original dubbing was actually quite good) the English translators decided to take some liberty with the original script and altered some of the most classic and quotable lines in the film. Having found Akira first as a comic and owning most of the series from the original US printing I was able to go back and check the translations and found that while the original dubbing wasn't exactly right it better conveyed the meaning of the lines for example;
original- "red bennies, three of 'em"
New-"Give me some pills."
Original- "Just when my coil was reaching the green line"
New- "And my engine was just warming up."

Yeah silly translators.

Chip Chief said...

wow, i didnt realize that. i will make sure to take your advice and check out the original.