Grave of Fireflies: Depicting the significance of empathy

Grave of Fireflies is a semi-autobiographical story by  Nosama Akiyuki that is popular among Japanese anime fans.  It is based on the author’s own experiences of the Second World War that was later adopted as an anime film by Isao Takahata. This film makes audiences ponder many aspects of the WWII which question the depth of humanity during adversity. It highlights how the lack of empathy can lead to deaths of thousands unnamed people, such as the main characters, Seita and Setsuko.

The narrative revolves around two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, who had been orphaned during  the devastation of the Second World War. It sheds light on the post-war repercussions in Japanese contemporary society and middle-class families. The tale mainly centers on Seita and Setsuko’s struggle for survival. The two siblings had a happy family but after their parents’ deaths, they struggle with poverty and turmoil, even leading to knocking on doors for food and treatment which is met with no compassion.

The Japanese animation film has won many international accolades from the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival Blue Ribbon Awards because of its incredible depiction of every moment of sibling love, affection and innocence. Detailed illustration of each segment makes the siblings’ bond and agony so lively that it leaves audiences sentimental. The treatment that these two orphans receive from the society depicts the lack of empathy and kindness that can arise in dire situations as those reflected in this heart-wrenching anime classic.

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