Grave of the Fireflies (1988) – [subtitled]
For the next few weeks I’ll be watching all the Studio Ghibli films. Some again, some for the first time.

As I type this, I choke up, my eyes begin to water, I pause. This film will pummel one’s emotions to a pulp and haunt you.

Grave of the Fireflies is one of the greatest animated films of all time, a most hauntingly beautiful and devastating film. You will not leave it unscathed. Fireflies hits hard since we all know the fates of our characters, as it’s how we are introduced to them. As we grow to know and love them, Seito and Setsuko, brother and sister, emanate beauty and love in the face of horror.

We watch, slowly, as childhood innocence burns away, leaving husks in its wake. We see a hero born in Seito, the epitome of brotherly love. We see the devastations of war ravage a society on a heartbreakingly intimate level. We see the fragility of life and youth eroded by social displacement and isolation. We watch helplessly.

This film, based on a true story, broke my heart into thousands of tiny pieces. ‘Heart-wrenching’ doesn’t seem strong enough. It’s an utterly beautiful, touching film which powerfully communicates the strength of the human spirit to carry on against overwhelming odds. As difficult as it may be, it’s a must watch. Simply one of the best films I’ve ever seen.