Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dipping My Toes in Anime: Grave of the Fireflies and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time


It seems that y'all love anime. I don't try to pay attention to such things, but waking up to (a record, I'm sure) 18 comments that were put in overnight was quite a pleasant surprise. However, there's a downside to that: you all recommended some great films, but there's no way I can dip my toes in all of them. All's not that bad, though: in the future, I'll be able to get my feet wet with anime (ba dum psh). Anyway, here's the other four films that I'm going to check out before the end of this month: Spirited Away, Millenium Actress, Akira and Paprika. If you're favourite is not in there, I'm sorry, but those are the four I want to see the most. Now, onto Grave of the Fireflies and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time...


When I watched Toy Story 3 for the first time, people wondered why I cried so much. How could a teenage girl cry during an animated film? Because even animated films have the capacity to get the waterworks going. Which sounds like an understatement when applied to Grave of the Fireflies. Basically, the film follows Setsuko and his little sister Seita who are in the midst of World War II. When their mother is killed in an air raid, they are sent to live with some relatives, but they do not get along with each other. The two decide to move out on their own, and seek residence at an abandoned bomb shelter. While they're free and have the ability to do whatever they want, they also have to keep food in their bellies and learn how to survive on their own accord. Being two young kids who have probably not spent that much time alone, they have a lot to learn - unfortunately, their current condition isn't the best time to be learning that sort of stuff.

This is possibly one of the most beautiful, yet totally sad stories ever committed to film. When Setsuko and Seita first go to the bomb shelter, we feel sure that they'll be able to make their own way. However, that's just the way we'd think: we have probably all been living in the security of older, much more able people who have the means to look after and protect us. Even though I'm on the precipice of leaving home and making my way out of that security, while I'd relish in the freedom, I can't imagine being on my own. That's what I found so heart-breaking about Grave of the Fireflies - Setsuko and Seita wanted to prove everyone wrong, but they just weren't ready for full-blown independence. And it only gets worse: there's a war going on. Sure, we have our Saving Private Ryan's and the like to show us all the horrors of the war, but Grave of the Fireflies is definitely one of the most effective. No, Setsuko and Seita aren't fighting in the war - they're fighting the effects of the war. And that's something that we rarely see in films that tackle the war, yet something that I find just as horrifying. If you haven't seen Grave of the Fireflies yet, then what else can I say? Grab some tissues and witness one of the most beautiful animated films ever made.




Time. It is simultaneously the best and worst invention ever. I don't have enough of it. It runs away so fast. I can never go back to the times that I most want to revisit. Well, young Makoto doesn't have that problem. After a fall at school, she discovers a new power inside her: she can leap through time. No longer does she have problems with running out of time to do her school work, failing her tests or rushing to school because she's slept in: leaping will do everything for her. Basically, she's living my dream. But with all these too-good-to-be-true stories, there has to be some consequences. And that's when this film becomes a story of how we should appreciate time, with all it's greatness and flaws.

Despite the fact that I really enjoyed this film, I admit that I'm drawing a blank as to what I can say about it. It is a fun, spirited ride, but also a thought-provoking one. The only thing that annoyed me was how spastic Makoto appeared sometimes. There were several times when I thought she'd had to many energy drinks, but I don't know if they have those in anime-land. Do I want to leap through time after seeing this? Well, I'd like to, especially with all the homework that I have to do, but it seems like more trouble than it's worth.

What do you think of these films? Did you cry during Grave of the Fireflies? Would you leap through time?

32 comments:

  1. Haha, love what you said about Makoto being a bit spastic at times. I think it's a quirk of anime that a lot of the characters do that at times (especially in the TV shows!). The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is one of my favourites, and the Grave of the Fireflies reduced me to a mess of tears when I watched it. I really want to see it again, but I haven't been brave enough - so heartbreaking :(

    Spirited Away, Akira and Millenium Actress are three of my favourites (even though I only watched MA for the first time last week!). I'm dying to see Paprika too. Hope you love them all! Great write ups!

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    1. I would not leap through time - if the movies have taught me one thing, it's that time travel is dangerous and should never be attempted! hahaha

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    2. I have noticed that there has been a little spastic-ness in the good old anime. Makoto just seemed REALLY spastic, though. Mind you, I like the spastic-ness. It reminds me a bit of myself on a good day.

      And no, I wouldn't leap through time, either!

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  2. I haven't seen The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but I was one of the ones who suggested Grave of the Fireflies. I'm not a big anime fan, but that movie BROKE me. I tried talking to my family about it later and couldn't even do that without tearing up.

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    1. I know, every time I think about it I want to curl up and cry! It is so sad!

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  3. Stevee, I've actually watched both of these films pretty recently, and both were excellent. Grave of the Fireflies is so hard to take. We have a three-year-old daughter, and I just couldn't disconnect her from Seita's fate. It was a tough viewing , but I'm glad that I saw it. I can see what you mean about not having that much to say about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I'm a big fan of the time travel genre and think it's an entertaining movie. However, I don't have as clear a memory of watching it now.

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    1. Grave of the Fireflies would be very tough viewing for someone with a young child. I can't imagine ever wanting to watch this film when I'm a parent!

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  4. I think I watched Girl Who Leapt Through Time at least 2-3 times in a short amount of time when I had my hands on it a few years back. Such a fun movie. And yeah, Grave of the Fireflies is such a devastatingly beautiful movie.

    Ugh... Paprika. I'm sorry you chose that one. A lot of people compare it to Inception, but frankly, Inception is infinitely better. Paprika is just a mess to me, and the animation style was annoying for some reason. I just didn't like the film whatsoever.

    I haven't seen Millennium Actress, but I've heard nothing but great things. And Akira, well... I talked about that one last time. It's weird, but a seminal film. And Kaneda's motorcycle is freakin' awesome.

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    1. (Oh, and of course Spirited Away is amazing.)

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    2. I only want to see it because of the Inception parallels. And I might as well have one polarising film on here instead of liking everything.

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  5. Glad you watched Grave of the Fireflies, it's funny that everyone always has the same reaction to it. I kinda get what you mean about The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, I really enjoyed it but I remember being pretty annoyed with the ending.

    With regards to the spastic thing, Ruth is right- anime characters are frequently over the top and energetic in their movements. Sometimes it can be pretty funny. I especially love the way anime people run- it's nearly always the same way.

    Yay Spirited Away! It will not disappoint I assure you! Akira is a little freaky, I've heard of Paprika but haven't seen it yet and as for Millenium Actress- I haven't actually heard of that one, I'll have to go look it up...

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    1. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time's ending was pretty annoying, to be honest. It was a little...anti-climatic for my liking.

      I love the way anime people run! And scream. It's so funny.

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  6. Grave of the Fireflies is ultimately sad, but it's such a great film. That's a good call on war films: even though we've seen tons of them, where people are shown fighting, it's not the only way to show the horrors of the war.

    Haven't seen the second film, but want to. (Gee, I feel that me saying that I want to see a film is like spam because I want to see every film from the art and I say it all the time.)

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    1. Haha, it's not spam! I'm glad that you're getting some recommendations.

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  7. Weirdly enough, I've seen every film that you're reviewing this month for your season, and most of them - if not all of them - are my favourites!

    Glad to see that over the years The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has become a fan-favourite, since I loved it when I first saw it. (Even in a terrible, boot-leg subtitled version I found online when it first came out.)

    Ah, Grave of the Fireflies is one of my favourites, ever since I was about 13, and definitely won't stop being in my top 100 films!

    One thing I think I wanna point out, though, is the whole crying in animated films debate. Personally, to me, it doesn't matter whether a film is animated or not - it's just another medium - hence why it always confuses me to people out there that do think animation revolves around kiddish type films, which is hardly the case. It's like saying the same thing about black and white films, or colour films. Never really got it, tbh.

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    1. I cry more in animated films than I do in real ones!

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    2. I've never got that debate, either. My friends just think you're faint-hearted if you cry at an animated film, because they're still under the impression that animated films are just for kids. So silly.

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  8. I would not have recommended The Girl Who Leapt Through Time for this list. It's not really a gateway title, but more for established fans of the genre. If you enjoyed it though check out Summer Wars. I think I actually prefer Summer Wars these days.

    I might finally watch Grave of the Fireflies when it comes out on Blu-ray next week. I'll have tissues ready.

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    1. I completely forgot about Summer Wars! That film is great! Only in Japan could they save the world with video games lol

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    2. I have heard of Summer Wars. I might give that one a look!

      And Grave of the Fireflies is out on Blu-Ray next week? I'd like that!

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    3. Yeah in Japan, both Totoro and Grave are being released on Tuesday. Sometimes I import from there since I don't like to wait until Disney released them in America.

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  9. Glad you got to see both movies. Grave of the Fireflies is obviously one of the great masterpiece, not only in animation but in film. I also enjoyed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time although it's quite naturally a notch below.

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    1. Yes, Grave of the Fireflies was a masterpiece. It will definitely be featuring highly in my top 100.

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  10. As much as I really loved "Grave of The Fireflies" I highly enjoyed "The Girl who Leapt Through Time" more because it had a higher rewatchable ratio for me. Mainly because I'm still kind of confused by the plot

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    1. I think it definitely does have high rewatchability. I'll be going back to it in the future, for sure!

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  11. Grave of the Fireflies is amazing. No doubt about it. Glad you were able to see that one, as it really is essential viewing for any film enthusiast.

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    1. It really is essential viewing for any film enthusiast. It is so great!

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  12. I need to rewatch Grave of the Fireflies

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    1. I don't think I could because it's too sad.

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  13. Grave of the Fireflies is one of the best animated films I've ever seen. It proved to me that any story - no matter how heavy the material may be - can be told through animation. I wish I found Pixar films this moving.

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  14. Grave of the Fireflies is probably one of the most heart wrenching films I have ever seen. Not just out of the animated genre, but all genres. Showing the harshness of war through children's eyes was a brutal move. I remember after I watched it for the first time I was left stunning on my sofa for at least half an hour.

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You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

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