Continuing relevance of Grave of the Fireflies(BBC)

火垂(ほた)るの墓 [DVD]

火垂(ほた)るの墓 [DVD]

Heather Chen*1 “Grave of the Fireflies: The haunting relevance of Studio Ghibli's darkest film”

先日他界した高畑勲の代表作とされる「スタジオジブリで最も暗い映画」『火垂るの墓*2の今日的なレリヴァンスについて語る。(この記事を含めて)英語圏でよく言及されるのは、映画史家の故Roger Ebertが2000年に書いたレヴュー。そこで彼は「これまで作られた最良の戦争映画のひとつ(one of the greatest war films ever made)」と評している*3
「悲劇」と「美」の両義性(Roland Kelts);

Rich with detail and impressionistic effects, the Studio Ghibli co-founder's masterpiece brings to life the human impact of war.

Roland Kelts*4, author of Japanamerica, remembers a particularly tragic but "mesmerisingly beautiful" scene.

"We see a group of fisherman gazing out over the bay as the city of Kobe goes up in flames on the horizon. The flames lick at the sky and the fishermen are seen from the back," he told BBC News.

"The stillness of disaster. Nothing is moving but we feel their shock. It's a scene of pure shell shock, as gorgeous as it is terrifying."

歴史的な文脈に位置づけるLim Beng Choo(林明珠)さん*5

Today, the film remains not only relevant but more important than ever, according to Lim Beng Choo, an associate professor in Japanese studies.

"Grave of the Fireflies is an important film because it emphasises (among other things) the value of life. While it depicts the irreversible tragedies and sufferings that Japanese people had to endure during the war, viewers should also actively be asking why and how World War Two was allowed to happen," Ms Lim said.

"Knowing Japan's historical military past will also give the audience a better understanding of events and will cultivate a generic humanistic sentiment towards all war, which would prove to be a more effective way of preventing future wars."

「反ハリウッド」としての『火垂るの墓』(Roland Kelts);

Japanamerica's Roland Kelts added: "Grave of the Fireflies is a story richly told, with all the ambiguity and second-guesses of the way life is lived. Its story remains relevant today because of that fact alone. It tells about the failure of heroism and nobility in desperate circumstances and in that way, it's almost an anti-Hollywood film".

"Hollywood will have you believe that heroes are needed when times are tough. Isao Takahata shows us the humble opposite, that when times are tough what you need most is humility, patience and self-restraint. That's how one survives."


Grave of the Fireflies may have earned a reputation as being one of the darkest Ghibli films ever made. But that has not stopped loyal fans from reviving debate around the "underrated" film and its poignant lessons, with the discussion still vibrant 30 years on from its release. For many, its message about the human impact of war still resonates strongly.

"If anyone thinks anime is only made up of over-the-top facial expressions, a lot of sexual content and corny teen romance, watch Grave of the Fireflies and prepare to be proven 100% wrong," wrote a fan on YouTube.

On Reddit, one anime fan focused on the symbolism of fireflies: "The firefly becomes a haunting symbol of the film as it represents both the deadly fire bombs that wrecked the children's city but as well as an icon of hope and perseverance".

"In the wake of the Trump administration and nationalism capturing the minds of millions around the world, this movie has never been more necessary," said Ghibli fan Rebecca Lee on Facebook*6.

"Know that this movie is a metaphor for World War Two and is so much more than the death of these two characters. Grave of the Fireflies is about the consequences of blind unchecked nationalism and the bitter end of those that follow it. This film is not a masterpiece because it's sad, it's a masterpiece because of the lessons it teaches." 

See also

Peter Sobczynski*7 “"Why Do Fireflies Have to Die So Soon?": A Tribute to Iaao Takahata, 1935-2018”