When we were talking about the controversial list of the “50 Must See Anime” a while back, I definitely had to give a nod of recognition to GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES’ inclusion on the list. I’ve been thinking about the film a little recently as I’ve been watching HBO’s superb mini-series, THE PACIFIC. The last episode end with Allied planes flying off to firebomb Tokyo and I was again reminded of art's power to build bridges. One thing I appreciate about seeing stories from other countries is getting to experience different perspectives of global history and GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES provides a powerful perspective, without doubt.
I first became aware of the movie, years ago, when Roger Ebert (that film critic you might have heard of) included it in his “Great Movies” list. As I recall, that was the only anime named alongside the likes of CITIZEN KANE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and the GODFATHER. Ebert called it one of the most powerful anti-war movies of all time and, after watching it on an old VHS, I definitely have to agree. Sobering is the best, if not the only, word to describe it. I can think of few other stories from the film, comics, anime and even literature that make such a powerful impact on the viewer. I’ve only seen it once, years ago and haven’t watched it again, in spite of this praise I’m giving. It's so far outside the realm of escapism audience-members, like myself, enjoy so much, that it’s not something I’m eager to return to repeatedly. This isn't the kind of movie where you fast forward to a “favorite part.”
So I’m just curious as to how this ranks in the eyes of the more experienced members of the Anime Vice community. Is the praise for this film entirely deserved, or has it distracted from lesser-known works that are perhaps more deserving? What are some other good examples of manga and anime that are, like I said, more literary in their bent, without even a bit of escapist intent? I don’t know if I’m necessarily interested in seeking them out, but I’m curious to see what’s out there.