Grave of the Fireflies: Anime Analysis Important Notice: Spoilers Ahead
Grave of the Fireflies is an anime movie of great portions of how war is difficult to handle and deal with. The movie is an emotional roller-coaster that is proudly brought to you by Studio Ghibli. It served as Studio Ghibli’s promotion for after 30 years and as a result, carefully told the story of Seita and Setsuko. Seita and Setsuko are caught in tough times when everything suddenly changes for the worse. The Second Great War is on the verge to end but for Seita it feels like years than months in the film. There are three key areas that drive the film’s success includes Japan’s uncanny support for the war, the significance of fireflies, and its overall main message.
The Japanese citizens are seen in various ways to support the war. When the burning of the town occurs, there is a man on a beach and shouts “Long live the Emperor!” This suggests the man’s enthusiasm for Japan’s leader and still having hope even in a desperate situation. After the initial bombing, Seita and his sister would eventually go to their Aunt’s house to live with her family. They have to support the war with managing rations and contribute to the household. Japanese public support is high because the Emperor is the symbol of the state and Japanese citizens hold him in such regard. If everyone did their part even small then the war effort could yield success with the collective of the country. When resources are rationed, the war effort is heavily influenced by soldiers are able to fight with supplies and continue the battle. Essentially, any citizen willing to sacrifice even shorter supply of food is a hero to all.
The fireflies in the movie are symbolic and each one has significance. Firstly, the fireflies at the pond where Setuko had a drop or candy as a treat. This represents a scene of happiness for her and a trip down memory lane. She rejoices in not having drops in a long time and later they can of drops would be “drop water.” Secondly, the next important firefly scene is after Setuko crying and leaving the aunt’s house. The transition is key for they are independent and are not bothering the aunt anymore with their in quote ‘selfish behavior.’ They do the transition soon after a bombing raid is occurring and make their new home bomb shelter. Finally, fireflies when Seita is pillaging for food and supplies in the distraction. The scene involves Seita stealing lots of resources while Setsuko is alone at their home base. Setsuko would fall unconscious and Seita was not there for her which foreshadows for the worse to come, death.
The overall message of the film is that war is harsh and merciless. It gives an anti-war message and suggests the impacts of the society and individuals that reside in the aftermath. In the film, we observe Setsuko growing without her mom and Seita taking the role of a parent. The parent role suits Seita at first but Setsuko would be a victim of diarrhea then the extreme onset of malnutrition. Life after the war is difficult for many reasons low amounts of food, destroyed infrastructure, and others. It is this attempt of survival for the siblings that captures this more intensely in how life can drastically change. Once the bombs landed, people’s lives were greatly changed and as a result, they had to adapt and hope for the best. The film portrays this in people’s actions to support the war effort and their conditions for living. People are under martial-law like setting where air raids are ever-present and taking cover means survival. Furthermore, Setsuko’s death sets the tone for war and how relentless it can be for either side.
Henceforth, Grave of the Fireflies is a movie where viewer discretion is strongly advised. It might seem innocent but the TV 14 rating is definitely there and needs careful consideration. A young child would misunderstand the concept of war, be left slightly traumatized, or other unknown effects. Despite the possible rating, Grave of the Fireflies would be a movie about how war is a detergent for conflict and the aftermath of the battle. It serves as a testament to such a grave issue in history and WWII in general. So, if you do not mind a tearjerker and depictions of battle then Grave of the Fireflies is for you.