Grave of the Fireflies


Grave of the Fireflies or as they say it in the motherland, Hotaru no haka. It even sounds beautiful. The anti-war film that teaches us that human suffering is felt by all. And yes, I will be praising the film like all critics. I mean Studio Ghibli made it. And we all know Hayao Miyazaki is a God of the animation world. Madhouse, IG, Gonzo, and Bird studios can all learn a lesson in animation or rotten in the deepest depths of Tartarus. Also this movie was made to teach us Americans what we did to the poor Japanese. War is never the answer and now be filled with shame as we go throughout this..
.(choking up)...masterpiece. Ha! It's funny. Remember when I said I would be praising the film? I lied. This movie is the anime version of depression if it was shot into you're veins. I swear to God this movie needs a hug! That earlier was how most people sound like when praising  this movie. And that idiot on IMDB who said Miyazaki made this is a tool. Mainly because this was made by Isao Takahata! Miyazaki was premiering a far superior movie called "My Neighbor Totoro" along side this movie as a double feature? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT! Well, I have to be that asshole that adds snark to his review. Why you may ask is reasonable enough. It's to keep me from puking and crying during this!


We start with a boy staring draggers into our souls. SUBTLE! He informs us he died on September 21, 1945. Thank you, WHO THE HELL ARE YOU!? We see then see his last moments alive as passersby play keep away and curse at him. "Die in the ditch street rat, not on the road. Fucking asshole." He then hears voices and calls for a girl named Setsuko, and he dies. Powerful. ...don't ask me how just look at it! We then see a street cleaner raid the dead body and he takes out uh...it's not symbolic. Its a Tin Candy Box. It shows up a lot and represents child like innocence and peace and...I don't care. The cleaner chucks it into a field. Fireflies show up as a ghost of a little girl. She's happy to see a healthy boy...the same who fell over dead a second ago. He hands her the tin box and we get opening credits. Grave of the Fireflies Abridged. You wish, you're reading my blog with is better then 80% of the abridged YouTube videos you saw. And why is there so many!?


Two are Seita and Setsuko, their on a train to...I dunno Neverland. Suddenly we get a overlaying shot of a sky full of planes. Then it hits you. This isn't a anti-war film, it's a flashback movie! We see the siblings with their mother scramble for cover as the US start stomping a mudhole in Kobe. Then in a very impressive and suspenseful scene, the air raid sirens stop and bombs are dropping down on them. So no jokes the animation is good. The siblings are separated from their mom and now the house is on fire. The two haul ass until the make it out the neighborhood to a lake with a view of the city. Setsuko does asks the logical question of where's mom? Lucky for her she made it to a bomb shelter, Seita tells Setsuko it can withstand a 250k blast. So they assume that mother will be at the train station. So after some cute shit, we see that the city has been leveled. Seita says that the Americans will pay for this. ...yeah, cool story brah. Okay that was mean. After that we get a scene of death and gritty images of war. Makes the critic in me give this movie 5 stars without grading it on anything else.


So after the film drags a bit, the pair it to a school made into a makeshift clinic. A man helps Seita look for his mom. We the top half of her body covered in bandages. Seita looks at the sight in horror. We do to because we get a scene of him looking at her with a AWESOME DRAMATIC PAUSE! After that, we get a long scene of Seita dealing with his moms death and breaking the news to his sister. And yeah it's a well done scene but damn does it take it's sweet ass time to move. A lot of empty dialogue. But why bother with the spoken word? Studio Ghibli made it. It could be still shots of an Arby's and I'd still call it genius. Oh yeah, and Setsuko being a cute kid. And again I get it but damn is it pointless! Seita tells her that they'll stay at the school overnight before heading to Nishinomiya to live with their aunt. But first! How about we see your dead mom, maggots eating her flesh and all. And were treated by seeing a bunch of dead bodies being set of fire. The scene goes no where by the way. ...good.


Seita makes it to his aunt's house and is met by his sister. She asks Seita if her mother is still sick and Seita tells her yes. It's at this point Seita plays the "everything is alright" movie cliche. This has been used in countless movies where a child is lied to and the adult carries the burden. I hate that crap. We then get a scene of Seita finding his candies but honest why? I'm sure it represents innocence but I don't care to give a shit! Back at Nishinomiya, the aunt is overjoyed they got food then sadden cause Seita tells her his mom is dead. She asks Seita why he was hiding it from her, and Seita tells her that he was merely hiding it from Setsuko. This turn his aunt into a bitch. ...or more of one. So the movie decides to crank up the juice on the throw away scenes. Yeah they build character but thats making the movie boring. "But Dee, they're playing with fireflies and war is still happening. Tragic is it not?" Sure...whatever you say! I know I got a lot of nerve. I love Ghost in the Shell, the series and movies. That has some boring ass scenes. But at least they drop smart plot points, some fanservice and some awesome action. This is nothing but pretentious fluff. The plot moves like old people fuck!


A day or so passes and the aunt asks why Seita isn't going to school. Seita replies that the steelworks he's supposed to be working at was bombed and his school burned down. The aunt doesn't like that but guess what it's war! She doesn't have a right to be upset! She asks when he wrote to his father, Seita replies not long after they went to her house. The aunt says that it's odd that there hasn't been a reply. Ahaha, Bitch. ...I kinda like her. At dinner, the aunt serves stew to her husband, and asks how the war going. Long and short of it lady, there's two cities that look like God nailed it with a Macho Man elbow drop. You tell me! He answers it seems hopeless. The uncle says the harder each individual must work, and they're still getting ready for the final invasion. Gundam's! The aunt agrees, and says that's why food is so rare. She adds that the soldiers aren't the only one suffering and tells her daughter to work for the country's war effort. So the aunt is a bitch because she's a patriot? The family continues eating when an air raid siren sounds. The five are now stuck inside an air raid shelter. Gee, I hope Setsuko doesn't be cute for no fucking reason! Seita asks what's wrong, and Setsuko replies that she has an itch. Awwwww! And guess what, nothing happens! Let's go to the beach! No joke!


So after they play, see a dead body and get hungry, Seita and Setsuko turn to see planes flying overhead. Back at the house, the aunt tells Seita to sell his moms kimonos for food. So is she bad because she want food? Yes, it's because Setsuko still thinks her mom is alive and the aunt shouldn't take them. Seita had to pull Setsuko away from the aunt, but Setsuko continues to squirm and scream in his arms. The spirit Seita watches this scene in horror and covers his ears to block out the crying. Dude your dead...wait how are you here? Can ghost time travel!? Then we get a flashback. So after a little girls life is rocked by not knowing her moms been dead for two weeks, she doesn't want to eat. The aunt tells him that she feels guilty not giving food to the other two people, who are working overtime. Yeah she's a bitch, but she's got a point kinda. Days later, the uncle and the cousin come and they get their lunches for the day before running off. Seita tells Setsuko that they'll have rice balls for lunch, but the aunt strictly told them that they'd have rice porridge instead. Because he doesn't have a job. The aunt is a bitch, can't you tell? She tells him that they don't deserve the same lunch as those that work for the country and all hail Tojo, Nippon and uh...Astroboy. She adds that he always wants rice, but does he ever work for it? Uh, good point. I feel for Seita, I do but why not ask for you uncle to get you work with him?
Then a whoooollllllle lotta nothing happens. But bulletpoints. Seita and Setsuko are look at as freeloaders and the candy makes them happy. Fuck you, this is an anime classic! The aunt is sick of them not doing dishes and we get another firefly scene. Arrggh!!! After that an announcement calls out a report of bombers. Finally action! Thank you. I love how the aunt tells Seita fuck shelter, go outside with a service rifle and shoot in the air. That's like me giving my son a rock and telling him to threw it at a tank. Seita stops scrambling when he sees two shelters outside. Setsuko looks up and tells Seita she hates living with the aunt. Yeah! Fuck rules! In a flashback the aunt tells them that there's a war going on saying they're nothing but trouble and calling them pests. So our heroes live in a shelter in war torn Japan. I hate Seita. The aunt even has remorse but fuck her. She wanted us to do housework and shit. I dump on this movie but the next few minutes are fantastic. It shows how hard life will be not living in a house. Remember their kids. Then the fireflies show up. To be fair it's done well too. Hell when they go to sleep is the best scene in the movie. It hits Seita his folks are dead and it's just him and Setsuko. It's truly heavy and it's understood. No forced symbolism, no forced pretension. Even the next day when they bury the dead fireflies and Seita cries. It's goddamn good.



Well Setsuko knows of her moms death and Seita tells Setsuko that they'll visit her grave. Then a throw away scene. Thanks movie. Anyway, shit gets very real when you run out of money and food. When they try to make a trade, its not enough. Seita is told go back to their aunt's but...pride...or instantaneous retardation hits him. So they steal from a farmer, get lice, get diarrhea and Seita gets the shit beat out of him. In other words, a lot did and didn't happen! But it shows the two being street rats. Even stealing from houses during an air raid. And we get to see Setsuko dying from starvation. Seita...nigga...tap out! Kiss your aunt's bitchy ass. Your sister is dying! He does but only to trade shit he stole for food. Now thats some crackhead shit! Hey tell her that Setsuko is dying! He doesn't.
At a hospital, Setsuko lifts up her shirt, revealing rash-covered skin and ribs. The doctor tells Seita that Setsuko is suffering from malnutrition. Seita asks what he can do anything and the doctor says all she needs is food. BEST DOCTOR EVA!!!! I mean no shit, Tokyo Medical and Dental got it right with this dude. Well it gets worse living on the streets, but spoilers, Japan lost the war. Seita asks about the fleet, and the man says it's all wiped out. Shocked, Seita grabs the man by the shirt and asks if that's why his father hasn't written. Okay Seita, imma need you to chill the fuck out...and yes. Your dad died 4 weeks ago! I kid but this scene is good too. Then...a very, very, very, very, very sad death. Setsuko. Honestly I didn't hate her but I didn't care for her either. But she didn't deserve to go out like that. I just don't get Seita. He's a selfish little prick when you get right to it. Treating Setsuko like a doll no one else can play with. Or maybe I'm looking to fuckin deep and I'm reaching for more reasons to hate him.

As he lies beside his dead sister on the ground a typhoon hits the country. SYMBOLISM OVERLOAD!!!! Then a depressive as hell scene of Seita cremating his sisters body. This was Johnny 5 getting destroyed heartbreaking. This would be the end for Seita. We then see brother and sister as spirits overlooking the Tokyo skyline in 1988. Magnificent. How Japan built itself up again, it became a blossoming flower and somewhere down there...Beat Takashi is getting a bj from a underage school girl. Awe inspiring. Setsuko is playing as the fireflies dance in the night. Seita looks into the camera as the final shot. THIS MOVIE NEEDS A FUCKING HUG!


There is a lot to say about this movie, so let me break it down. The good. The animation, music and a few well directed moments where it shows how good Studio Ghibli is. The bad. They reinforce tropes way too often in this movie. The aunt being evil, Setsuko being cute, WAR! Huh!...good God ya'll. Also the fireflies. Yes it represent their innocence and beauty during war but...why so many fucking times? Damn bugs had a subplot and I didn't even know it. The ugly. The dialogue of empty air. The scenes that look like a vignette. The preachy as hell message of the movie. But is it an anti-war movie? ...yeah. I make no argument that you can point out an anti-war message. Not me, I only know that war is hell. War doesn't care who you are or what you believe in. In war people die and things are changed for the worst more then the better. Whether it's man, woman, or child. It's a human flaw. But I'm wrong and so is everyone else who though of either idea. The message is worse. In fact it sucks the life out of the film.
Director and second fiddle to Miyazaki, Isao Takahata has news for you. In his own words, "Grave of the Fireflies is not at all an anti-war anime and contains absolutely no such message." ...lolz. Seriously, this is like a major victory for me. This movie and Neon Genesis are sooooo over analyzed, it's quite refreshing to see a creator saying "Yeah, that's cool homie but your very wrong." But I digress, the intention was actually worse. He wanted to invoke sympathy from teens to twenty year olds. He wanted to show how hard his parents generation had it. Japan's generation X needed to know. Takahata had to convey an image of the brother and sister living a failed life due to isolation from society. They need to know about Japan's darkest point in history. So that last shot of Seita is sooooo clear now. He was like "I had to duck bombs and shit. You fuckers got instant ramen, Nintendo and Michael Jackson! You bastards got it good. I defied my elder by not cleaning and not contributing to her house. And I was homeless because I...wait I lost my point. Respect my generation! Damn modern day 80's Japanese teen with your...Seiko watches...and...uh...RESPECT US!"
That's fucking amazing. I may joke but that kills whatever you took from the movie. Not on a large scale but...here's an idea. "The Neverending Story". A multi layered story with several themes. Bravery, Honor, Faith, Compassion, Imagination...just go with those themes. Then the creator comes out and says "No, it's about our dying earth and we need to recycle." Takes the pop out of it, does it?

3BlackGeeks Rating-
Dee- B-
Posted on March 17, 2014 .