The Order of Ghiblis #05 - Grave of the Fireflies
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Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
The story of Seita and Setsuko, two young Japanese siblings, living in the declining days of World War II. When an American firebombing separates the two children from their parents, the two siblings must rely completely on one another while they struggle to fight for their survival.
Poignant, impactful, beautiful, but hard. It's a serious movie about an incredibly serious part of history, distilled and focused not on the wider repercussions of war but just the lives of 2 children, and how they struggle to live and exist, finding fleeting moments of happiness where they can.
It's those moments that really sing in the movie, but even they are tinged with the sadness of the situation surrounding them, as you want to be happy for them when and wherever you can. The soundtrack and audio is really good, setting each scene perfectly. However, It is a bleak and often depressing tale, and though very important and worth watching, really hard to recommend to most.
We struggled so much with this one. I would consider it one of the most impactful stories Ghibli has ever told, bringing importance and context to the human struggle of war, but it's also an incredibly demanding and hard film to watch. If this list is meant to be purely what is better then it should be up there, but if it's about movies we would recommend then it's hard to tell people to watch this over the more light hearted and fun Ghibli adventures.
In the end we had to balance these feelings out. It skips ahead of Arrietty and Cat Returns due to it's story and characters, and the great audio work that really bring the troubling atmospheres to life. It was a close one with Whisper, but in the end we felt that Whisper also had strong characters and pacing and we would definitely recommend that over Grave in most situations so Grave settles just beneath as our 3rd fave thus far!
NEW FULL ORDER
1.My Neighbour Totoro
2.Whisper of the Heart
3.[NEW] Grave of the Fireflies