Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies is an animated account of Japan during World War 2 - as seen through the eyes of a young brother and sister.

First, this is definitely not a cartoon for young kids. The mother of the 2 children is killed during a bombing of the city. As her fly-covered body is hauled off, young Seita takes charge of his younger sister, Setsuko. But their short lives are not happy ones.

The movie was meticulously researched and implemented, from mirroring realistic locations to telling a story which comes from real life survivors. Its most compelling message is how war affects youngster - and how many adults do not take the time to properly care for those children. To be fair, many adults in this story were having trouble finding nourishment for themselves, so to also take in an orphaned pair of children would have been a hardship.

Seita and Setsuko find moments of joy and beauty in their lives, whether it's playing on the beach or catching fireflies in the dark. But the grinding wheels of poverty and despair catch them up as Setsuko slowly dies of malnutrition.

Now, as much as I *love* this film, I have to bring something up. I have a 14 year old son myself - Seita's age. I have a BIG issue with one of the premises here. Seita is at an age when children are rather self sufficient. Seita is quite able to scrounge for food and cook meals when he needs to. He knows that his parents have a bank account with money in it. Yet instead of using it productively, he lets the money sit there (after an extravagant initial purchase of 'fancy' white rice, an umbrella and cooking supplies) while his sister dies. Why didn't he take out more money and miserly use the pennies for basic foods? He's able to buy plenty at the end but by then it's too late. Why didn't he go door to door offering to do work for food? He has plenty of time to steal, but none to beat the street. While I agree their situation seemed pretty hopeless, his sister didn't die of malnutrition in days. That takes months. He had plenty of time to take action, and not swing on his swing.


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