Friday, August 26, 2011

Grave of the Fireflies and the Eastern mentality

Grave of the Fireflies is considered by many Western film critics to be among the best films ever made.  It has received numerous nods from big-name movie critics, such as Roger Ebert.  The praise for the film here in the West is quite abundant indeed, but it's a different situation over in Japan.

For those that don't know, Grave of the Fireflies takes place during the end of World War II.  The content may be years old by now, but the mental wounds of Japan are still fresh.  When the film debuted in Japan, it was actually a flop.  No one wanted to see the film due to its topic, and the fact that it was very depressing.  The only reason the film received notoriety was due to a pairing with My Neighbor Totoro, which went on to be quite a success.

It seems that the negative Eastern stigma against the film still exists to this day.  One of my Facebook friends left the following message on my wall concerning Grave of the Fireflies.

My wife and I went to Japan for our honeymoon a few years ago. We went to the Ghibli Museum with a tour guide. She asked us on the way over what some of our favorite Ghibli movies were and I told her Grave of the Fireflies. She kind of made a face of disgust and said that one isn't so cherished over there because of the content. I felt like I gave her the wrong answer!

World War II will never be forgotten, nor will the tragedies that were involved.  While I think it's unfortunate that the film gets a cold shoulder in the East, I can understand why.  Perhaps one day both East and West can come together over this film.  It showcases a very important part of history, and also manages to humanize a conflict that many never put a face to.


  1. Yeah I always wonder what Germans and such think of movies such as Saving Private Ryan and other WWII movies.

  2. Grave of the Fireflies was a fantastic film, as it did exactly what art should - it made an impact. My wife and I experienced this film in our thoughts for weeks after watching.

    The subject matter is horribly depressing. It focuses on the horror and tragedy of WWII in a very significant way. Obviously, I can understand this is far more impactful for those living in the east, to the point where the subject would want to be avoided.

    I give a huge amount of credit to Studio Ghibli for making the film - it was something certainly outside the scope of their family friendly films. But I also can't fault anyone for not wanting to watch it.