Grave of the Fireflies -------- My Personal Reactions

Essay by ittybittyjack December 2004

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Yet again this is another war movie. But unlike so many American blockbusters that treat brave soldiers as heroes (such as Pearl Harbor, We were soldiers, Windtalkers, etc.), this one addresses war's brutal impact on innocent civilians, especially children. With the war on Iraq now undergoing, this point has all the more relevance. Under the same American bombing, innocent Iraqi children are now suffering just as much as Seita and Setsuko in this movie have suffered, and even more, for the Iraqi people and land have long known the horrors of poverty, hunger and dictatorship.

This essay, with at the beginning a brief summary and an elaboration of three classic scenes in the movie, is going to present to you the three dimensions of the complex feelings that the movie provokes in my heart on a personal level and thus tries to offer an individual yet hopefully worthy viewpoint for those interested in the movie.

Summary and Three classic scenes

Grave of the Fireflies is based on a semi-autobiographical book by Nosaka Akiyuki about the death of his sister, and is a very well known book in Japan. The movie itself is about a teenager boy named Seita and his 5-year-old sister Setsuko, and how they try to survive in mainland Japan after the entirety of their port town, Kobe, is destroyed by American fire bombings. Their mother dies shortly after the fires are put out, in a graphic and poignant scene at a community hospital. Their father is in the Navy, and unbeknownst to them, has already died in battle. Unable to tell Setsuko that their mother has died, Seita takes her with him to live with their Aunt. The Aunt, however, cares little for them, and barely feeds them. Seita eventually takes Setsuko, and leaves their aunt's house...