Earlier today, I watched ‘Akira’, and that along with ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ and ‘Spirited Away’, prove that Japan produce the best animated movies (or anime as they call it). This one happens to be my second favourite animated movie ever (‘Spirited Away’ is still my favourite)
The film focuses on a boy named Seita (J. Robert Spencer; English) and his younger sister Setsuko (Rhoda Chrosite; English) who struggle to survive after their mother (Veronica Taylor; English) is killed in an explosion near the end of World War II. Throughout the film Seita has to trade things for or steal food in order to feed himself and Setsuko. The film features some serious dialogue and various scenes of emotion.
The film features scenes of shock and upset, such as when buildings are blown up in bombings and when Seita’s mother gets burned and later dies. There’s also some scenes which show negative characters, like their aunt, who criticises how they do nothing to earn their rice and spites them for playing the piano. There’s also disturbing images such as Setsuko receiving rashes everywhere and when Seita gets assaulted after being caught stealing.
Something new for me was that, of all the films I’ve ever seen before (and I’ve seen hundreds, including ‘Titanic’, ‘Up’, ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’, ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘West Side Story’), I’ve never cried at a film before. The biggest scene of emotion was when Setsuko dies of starvation and Seita buries her body and possessions and has them cremated . I’ll admit that scene had me crying, but I have definitely never cried at any other film before! The film opens with the dead Seita narrating as he died of starvation at Sannomiya Station, meaning that he died shortly after.
‘Grave of the Fireflies’ and ‘Akira’ are both disturbing films, in their own ways, with both having some disturbing acts of violence. They’re violent and unpleasant in different ways, but with ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, it’s much more emotional and even though ‘Akira’ is more violent and gross, ‘Grave of the Fireflies’s themes make it harder to watch due to it being themed around war. ‘Akira’ is themed around World War III, but there’s very little bomb dropping at all (except the beginning), ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ features deaths of young children and families.