Grave of the Fireflies: Movie Review

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Leah Goss

HST 435 Modern Japan

Grave of the Fireflies begins with the main character Seita telling the audience that today is the day he died. The movie takes place in Japan during World War II. Specifically when the United States was dropping fire bombs incessantly upon Japan's cities and people. The story that is told doesn't go into specifics of what is happening during the war, just how Seita and his little sister Setsuko lived through it. This film does however, show the losses sustained by families, the societal changes in Japan, and the cruelty of war.

After Seita and Setsuko reunite in spirit, they begin to show the audience how their death came to be. The first glimpse of memory is of the time before the bombings hit their hometown in Kobe. Seita is shown digging a hole and placing canned foods and other miscellaneous items into the hole for safe keeping. This process was to ensure that at least a few of their things would be safe, even if their house no longer stood. Their mother tells Seita to take Setsuko after he finishes securing the house, while she goes on ahead. This was because their mother had heart problems and she would need the extra time to get to the shelter, because her children were much faster than herself. When Seita and Setsuko arrived at the shelter, the planes had just finished their air raid, and they see the vast amount of destruction that took place. Their city was completely wiped out, except for the school which was being used as a hospital. In the frenzied crowd of survivors seeking shelter and medical attention, Seita learns that his mother was brought in and was severely wounded. By the time he reaches her, she has already passed away from the severity of her burns that she sustained from the fire.

This wasn't an uncommon occurrence. Several children were orphaned or killed along with their families during these air raids. People died because they couldn't get away in time, or there wasn't enough room in...
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