How Does It End? Mon: Storyline, Major Themes Jeannie: Cultural Aspects, Powerpoint, Video Related Clips Kristena:Characters, Technical aspects of animation and filming, Introduction to film
Introduction to FilmGrave of the Fireflies is based on the semi-autobiographical book by AkiyukiNosaka, published in 1967 that begins as a flashback and begins to replay thestory of the events that happened leading to the moment we meet Seita the maincharacter in the story. The anti-war story and then later made into theanimation by Studio Ghibli and directed by Isao Takahata. Grave of the Firefliesis said by some to be the Shindler’s List of anime because it shows the Japaneseside of the story through the eyes of the children involved. This animation isTakahata’s most serious animation as he is also well known for “PrincessMononoke” “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” The anime isalso said to be the first of its kind, because unlike the other animations of thetime such as “The Lion King”(1994) and “Princess Monoke” (1997), and othersof the 80’s and 90’s that are for the family and give a warm fuzzy feeling; whileGave of the Fireflies is one that gives a very tearful and eye opening view of thechildren.
Storyline The films open up with Seita dying of starvation. A janitor noticedhe was gone and searches his body and found a tin can that he throwsaway. The tin can glowed and Seita and his younger sister Setsuko and aflock full of fireflies appeared. A flashback occurs and it started with anair raid forcing Setsuko and Seita to a bomb shelter. Everything in theirneighborhood and most of the city was destroyed. They both survive theair raid but their mom wasn’t so lucky being caught in the air raid anddied leaving them without a home and mom. Nowhere to go they moveinto their aunt house. His aunt let them stay but had to give most of theirstuff to her for food. After giving almost everything they had, the auntcomplained on how they do nothing to earn the food she makes. Leadingthem to choice to leave and moved into an abandoned bomb shelter.
Setsuko was afraid of the dark and they capture fireflies for light. Thenext day Setsuko found them all dead and wonder why they have to dielike her mother. They ran out of rice and Seito was force to steal fromfarms and loot homes during air raids. Setsuko became very ill due tothe lack of food and Seita withdraws all the money from their mom’sbank account. Heading back to the shelter he overheard people sayingthat japan lost the war and his father might be dead since all of Japan’snavy is now at the bottom of the ocean. He returns to Setsukohallucinating and hurry to cook some food, but Setsuko dies shortlyafter. He then cremates Setsuko and puts her ashes into that fruit tinuntil he met his own death.
Seita Seita is a young boy who is between 12and 14 and throughout the video at somepoints seems much older than just fourteen,because he is taking care of his sister Setsukowho is only four during the time of World WarII. His father was unreachable as he wasserving one the Japanese military, and hismother was killed in a bombing. Seita in just afew frames becomes the sole provider forSetsuko, after their Aunt and Seita had a fallingout about what the siblings. Seita and Setsuko
find an abandoned cave to stay in next to a lake, where they oftenspend time fishing and playing in. The two children find comfort inthe evening with the fireflies as they dance around the outside oftheir cave and catch some to bring into the cave to help make it lessdark.
SetsukoSetsuko is the little sister to Seita, only four yearsold doesnt completely understand what ishappening, all she knows is her brother is takingcare of her and that her mom is in the "hospital"(That is what Seita told her) and her father isaway on a Japanese Naval ship. Setsuko findscomfort in the evenings from her fear of the darkin the fireflies that fly around the places they arestaying whether it be their Aunts or theabandoned bomb shelter. The young girl loved thefruit snacks that Seita put in their emergency pack
of food, Seita worked very hard to get her thefruit snacks as much as he could, but as he was akid as well struggled to find food in general.Setsuko, tried to bring happiness to this sadstory through her lightheartedness throughoutthe movie up until she began falling ill where thereality of what was happening began to set in.The reality that she was lacking in nutrition andcouldnt get what she needed. She was havingdelusions and creating "rice balls" that werereally mud balls because of her hunger.
AuntAfter the death of Setsuko and Seitas mother, theiraunt takes them in, but instead of attempting toconsole them and help them through their greif oflosing their mother she is very harsh with themabout not working and helping with the efforts of thewar. She also is very stern with them about the foodthat they eat that she prepared for them. Often tellingthem that they are ungrateful and should go out toget a job or go to school. the Aunt tries to comparethe children to her husband and daughter and theirefforts towards the war at hand.
Major Themes: Anti War In the beginning of the film, there was an air raid destroying thecommunity and killed people. Japan had experienced fire bombingraids in 1945 towards the end of World War II. Graves of the firefliesis viewed as an anti-war film because it shared the struggle of lifeduring a war. Throughout this movie it showed hardship of life duringa war. Bombs fell like rain in the sky and It was estimated that morethan 650,000 people had lost their homes in these raids.
Major Themes: Optimism and Courage Another theme would be courage and optimism both showed by Seita. He always had a way to keep both himself and Setsuko happy even though they are going through a hard time. When they lived in the bomb shelter , they had a hard time gathering food. Seita had the courage to take care of Setsuko even when the odds are stacked against him. With problems Seita always tried to find a way to solve the situation. Seita showed that its important to always keep a positive mine during hard times it keeps motivation up and a reason to keep going.
Cultural Aspects: Family Values Common cultural values that are seen in Japanese films can include family values and social status. In Japanese culture, family values are strong providing love and support. In times of need like the fire bombing raids portrayed in the film, family is what is needed the most. They rely on each other in order to survive and you can see that Seita steps upto take care of Setsuko when both their parents are not present. This is a big responsibility for a young boy at 14 years old to take care of his 4 year old sister. The ties of family support loosens when Seita and Setsuko is under the care of their aunt. She no longer treats them as her own family, and instead puts her own blood family in the struggle for survival during this time period.
Cultural Aspects: Post War In 1945, fire bombing raids were already taking place. August of1945 was when Japan surrendered the attacks of the bombings. In thefilm, civilization went back to normal, others still had their housesintouched while some have lost theirs. Millions were homeless, injuredor died from the result of these fire bombing raids. Unfortunately,Seitas life had came to an end at the train station, where no familymembers were there to provide for him. He was reunited with Setsukoin the spirit life.
Technical Aspects of animation and Filming The anime of Grave of the Fireflies style is inspired of the 18th century Hiroshige and modern day Herge who created Tin Tin. The movie shows the characteristic of Anime characters of large eyes and small mouths when closed yet large when open. Produced live action animation and has won three awards, the first being the Special Award in 1989, and the second and third being in 1994, the Animation Jury Award and the Rights of the Child Award. The animation used spherical cinematographic process, this relates to the type of lenses used in the process of the animation. There are many different types of lenses one can use. Spherical is often referred to the traditional lens.
Throughout this heavy topic to film is what is called “pillowshots” just as Japanese poets use “pillow words” in their poetry toseparate each scene and as a way to create poetry of animation. ThePillow shots in this film use shots of nature surrounding the scenes.This allows the consequences of war and the devastation of what hasjust happened set into the viewers mind and help them create astronger understanding of the consequences and dangers of war.Others see the pillow shots as a breathing point for the audience as itis a very heavy and difficult topic.
Discussion Questions· Grave of the Fireflies is considered by many in the anime community to be a classic describe some of the characteristics that made this film a classic. And what would make a film a classic to you when viewing it?· What might the fireflies represent throughout the film? What meaning does it have for Setsuko and Seita? If the flashback scenes were not red but rather a blue color, Would that change the feeling or aspect of the story?· Takahata, the author of the story in a few interviews has said that Grave of the fireflies is not an anti-war film, so what other major ideas does this film relay?
Discussion Questions· How different would the story be if Seita decided to stay with his aunt? Would this story continue on into a happy ending? Or does this sorrow ending shows a different perspective from how an animated film usually is?· Grave of the Fireflies was also made into a live action film, unlike the animated version the live action film tells the story from their cousins’ point of view. How does the ending differ from both versions? Does having their cousins point of view change how you viewed the original animation? Or was it better off to have it stay as Seita’s story telling it?· What effect did the war have on families, school/education, economy, and society as a whole? Did this film change the way you look at World War II? Why or why not and in which ways has it changed or not changed in your outlook?
Works CitedBennett. "Anime Abandon - Grave of the Fireflies." TGWTG Update. N.p., 28 May 2012. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/bt/the-sage/anime-abandon/35418-anime-abandon-grave-of-the- fireflies>.Ebert, Roger. "Grave of the Fireflies (1988)." RSS. N.p., 19 Mar. 2000. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20000319/REVIEWS08/3190301/1023 >."Grave of the Fireflies - Synopsis." Grave of the Fireflies. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <http://www.wingsee.com/ghibli/fireflies/synopsis.html>."History Behind Grave of the Fireflies." History Behind Grave of the Fireflies. N.p., 2001. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <http://www.animeacademy.com/grave_fireflies.php>."Review of Grave Of The Fireflies." 123HelpMe.com. 06 Mar 2013 <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=156971>.