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Grave of the Fireflies

68. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

This is my third favorite animated film of all time (so you can expect two more). It's a film from the legendary Isao Takahata, who co-founded Studio Ghibli together with his friend Hayao Miyazaki. While the latter one often likes to make exuberant fantasy films full of unique and visually impressive environments, Takahata stays more down to earth with his stories, while still holding a certain delightful spiritual atmosphere. I love how personal, truthful and emotionally touching Takahata makes his stories. For me and for many others, Grave of the Fireflies is his most resonating film.

This film tells a story about war. For me, a war film can be good for several 'reasons'. It can be sharply insightful in terms of war politics, like for example Dr. Strangelove; it can display the deeper psychology of soldiers and other war subjects in a profound manner, like for example Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket; or it can work extremely well on an emotional level, like Schindler's List. This film contains a little bit of all these qualities, but for me, it's the emotional factor that made me fall in love with it. I'm not a person that easily sheds a tear, but this is one of those films that touched me so deeply that I couldn't withhold myself. It's an extremely powerful film.

I'm not the kind of person that condemns every kind of 'macro violence' (in some cases, it's simply inevitable if you want to defend your own people), but that doesn't mean that I can't be touched by a deeply humane story that shows the consequences on a more innocent, microscopic level. It's important to always keep individual suffering in mind when talking war politics. This is one of the best films when it comes to transferring that thought and ideal in an effective and satisfying way.

Grave of the Fireflies is one of the best anti-war films ever made and it uses the medium of animation in a tasteful and emotionally surreal manner that stays with the viewer for a very long time. A fantastic piece of tragically truthful cinema!