Review: Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

(Note: this capsule review is part of my farewell to the Netflix DVD service. #GetThroughMyQueue)

I’ve heard only good things about this film since it first came out and since, but I avoided it back in the day because it sounded like it involved no mecha, no sci-fi/fantasy, and was also a downer.

All of this was proven correct.

American bombers are the closest we get to mecha… and the only fantastical elements are occasional moments of the dead looking back at their former lives ending, which makes the setting all the starker. We follow a young boy, Seita, doing the best he can to care for his little sister, Setsuko, in the waning months of World War II. Following the fire-bombing of their city of Kobe, things go from bad to worse, which, one needs to remind oneself, can make for some great cinema. The animation will not be the most fluid or elegant you’ll ever see, but is repeatedly evocative and… human. Indeed, this has to be one of the best examples of how animation can tell exceptional stories exceptionally well.

Heartfelt and heartbreaking, You’re going to want to take a break from screens after this… and perhaps indulge in some fruit candy. Five stars out of five.

Somehow now, on the last day Netflix is sending out its DVDs, it feels fitting to find a five-star DVD. There’s a few more that have come though, so stay tuned next week, for the DVD denouement.

Update: Alas, the sending of bonus DVDs was more select than the press coverage led many of us cinemaniacs to believe (hey, that’s on us). I have two more Netflix DVDs I can review, one since sent back, and one which I get to keep permanently… which I have yet to watch. I guess the delay is when I watch it, things will really be over… and I get to debate whether this last disc is worth keeping.

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