Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)

What's it about? An animated film set in Japan near the end of WWII, where an orphaned brother and sister struggle to survive in the aftermath of a bombing wave on their city.

Is it any good? A powerful anti-war film from the famous Ghibli Studio, beautifully animated and very, very moving. It may be a cartoon, but this packs more of a emotional punch than many traditional war movies. It's a leisurely film, with few scenes of actual warfare, preferring instead to focus on the effect of the situation upon the two children. Quietly and affectingly, it fashions some lovely moments between them that make the characters and their relationship utterly believable. As a result, by the time it reaches its achingly sad ending, you'll be almost asphyxiated by the lump in your throat.

I don't trust you. What do others think?  Although it took its time to achieve international attention and remains underseen, it is now generally regarded as a highpoint in Japanese anime and one of the greatest war films ever made

Anything else I should know? As if the film wasn't sad enough, it's even more distressing to find it's based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Nosaka Akiyuki, who survived the firebombing of Kobe in 1945, but was racked with guilt over the death of his sister during the same period.

What does the Fonz think? The saddest cartoon ever.





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