101 Animes You Must Watch Before You Die (Part 2)

Grave of The Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka)

A 1988 cult classic by Isao Takahata of Studio Ghibli fame and perhaps their best work so far, or at least in the top 3 (for all ye detractors).

Despite its antiquity in animation production (by modern viewers’ eyes), it is perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching, tear jerking and anguishing stories that Japanese anime has ever told.

Based in World War II Japan, Hotaru no Haka is a story of 2 children who were rendered orphans after an American fire-bombing run claimed the life of their mother. The beginning of this tragic story is so poignant and casts a great shadow on the following continuation of plot. The sense of dread and impending suffering (on the part of the viewer) follows the 2 protagonists throughout their struggles to continue surviving. It is great story-telling and you can’t help but empathize with them. Perhaps it was a vehicle for anti-war messages or perhaps it was not. Either way, the use of imagery and symbolism (i.e. the fire-flies, ‘hotaru‘) in this movie is spectacular and simply amazing (especially after rewatching it and analyzing it).

Why do fireflies die so soon?”, asks the younger sister Setsuko.

I do understand that it wasn’t only the Japanese populace who suffered during the war, in fact many others did and perhaps had it even worse. But this demonstrates the consequences of violent conflict, for there are no victors…only those that died and those that survived. Those that do survive bear the scars of their ‘success’ for life. So for all you self-righteous nationalists (be it Chinese or whatever else), keep your prejudices and in fact, review it. You are at risk of becoming the people who started these wars in the first place. There is a much better use for your pent-up frustration and energy elsewhere.

If you want sad, really really really sad anime, this is the one to pick up. I bet you won’t be immune to the effects of this movie.

Why watch it before you die?

  1. Easily one of the most emotional and thought-provoking animes of all time.
  2. Brilliant story-telling coupled with the ease to place yourself in the characters’ shoes (or lack thereof). You do so at your own emotional-equilibrium peril.
  3. Perhaps you will feel better about the circumstances surrounding the passing away of your existence after watching this.



~ by shybeg122 on December 16, 2008.

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