Grave of the Fireflies and burying selfishness Nov04

Grave of the Fireflies and burying selfishness...

A teenage boy, dying from disease and starvation, sits leaning against a pillar in a subway station. Some express disdain towards the teen; others ignore him; one lady leaves a small bit of food next to him. This is the opening scene for Grave of the Fireflies, Studio Ghibi’s animated classic about the closing days of World War II. By nightfall, the boy, Seita, is dead. His spirit, however, is alive—and in the midst of glowing fireflies, he reunites with the spirit of a young girl (whom we soon discover is his sister Setsuko), and the two take us on a journey to the past, narrating what led them to their deaths. Grave of the Fireflies is difficult to watch—a cursory look through the Tumblr tag for the movie brings forth a common response: tears, and lots of them. After the children are left without their mother, as she suffered from severe burns due to the U.S. firebombing of their hometown of Kobe, Seita becomes a surrogate parent and leads his sister to a distant aunt’s house. There, the siblings are forced to take refuge. Their aunt cautiously takes them in, but as rationing becomes tighter, her callousness turns into outright scorn at having to share food with the children. Will we be satisfied within the comfortable confines of our lives and demonstrate that, in the end, we simply don’t care? Seita ultimately makes an ill-fated decision to take Setsuko and leave his aunt’s home, moving to an abandoned shelter. Though the two are happy at first to have their own dwelling, and even acquire goods and equipment that they purchase from a farmer, it isn’t long before malnutrition and disease set in. When Seita takes the declining Setsuko to see an unconcerned doctor,...