- Trailer: English dubbed version
- What it’s about: The final years of the Second World War – things are turning against Japan. The story follows a pair of siblings who survive a firebombing raid as they try to put their lives back together. But reality isn’t a land of sunshine and rainbows, particularly in Japan towards the end of the War. The elder brother, Seita, soon discovers the difficulties of taking care of a child in a country where pity and compassion are as harshly rationed as the food.
- Why you should watch it: It’s one of the most emotional turbulent movies out there in *any* medium, let alone in anime, and regularly gets high marks even from critics in both Japan and the West. Takahata and Studio Ghibli bring their usual level of skill to writing and animation, bringing the tragedy to life. From the opening narration through the trials and tribulations that the children face, it’s a harrowing journey to watch. Grave of the Fireflies is one of those films that will leave a lasting impact, whether you enjoy it or not.
- Caveats: This is not a happy story. At all.
- Themes: The cruel and petty nature of humanity under stress, particularly war.
- Similar works: Anything by Studio Ghibli – try Princess Mononoke first. Outside of that, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Outside of anime entirely, The Road or Schindler’s List.