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Toshiko Takagi is safely evacuated to Ninomiya ahead of American air raids, but her mother and sisters are caught in the firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945-the same attack dramatized in Kayoko's Diary. Rightly believing them to be dead, she endures a five-month wait until her father (a glass maker conscripted to make syringes for the war effort) arrives to collect her. As the reunited parent and child wait for the train to Niigata where they intend to start a new life, the station is strafed by an American plane, and Toshiko's father is killed. Later that night, she walks into the sea, and it is only when she is bowled over by a wave that she realizes she cannot swim and has been inadvertently succumbing to thoughts of suicide. Back in Tokyo, she finds the ruins of her old house and the remains of a glass rabbit that her father had made, melted almost beyond recognition by the heat of the Tokyo firestorm. The traumatized 13-year-old girl waits for her brothers to return from the war.
Takagi's autobiography had already been a successful book, both on its original 1970s publication and in a more recent annotated edition to help modern readers with the more obscure words. Although the story had already been adapted for film and TV, Takagi reportedly resisted the idea of an animated version until her grandchildren convinced her that her anti-war message could reach a younger audience. Presumably in the wake of Japan's renewed involvement in foreign conflicts since the first Gulf War, the animated version adds a new emphasis at the author's insistence: a stark realism to the scenes of aerial bombardment and the highlighting of the book's final chapter, in which the youthful Toshiko greets Japan's postwar pacifist constitution with elation. Compare to Chocchan's Story. V