Commendable, not recommendable

Some time ago I’d ranted about how Grave of the Fireflies was the most depressing anime ever, though others later chimed in with some context in defense. Now I see that Mark has a review up and it’s well worth a read. Like him, I still can’t recommend the title to anyone other than emotional masochists – but I can appreciate its value as a work of art with a message much better after reading Mark’s post. And I learned this wierd anime factoid of the day: Fireflies was originally intended to be seen back to back with My Neighbor Totoro. How’s that for emotional whiplash?

7 thoughts on “Commendable, not recommendable”

  1. Takahata has noted that audiences who actually saw the double-header had little or no trouble with “Fireflies” when they saw this first — but responded noticeablly less well when they happened to see “Totoro” first. ;~}

    While people tend to be disinclined to see this film more than once, I really do think that the film really only comes into its own when one does re-watch it — and can follow it much more critically (rather than simply responding emotionally). The feelings that it evokes are complex. Andm on revisitation, one might even note that the very last moments of the film are actually comparatively happy ones

    Yes — this does not make for easy viewing — but neither does classical drama. This is pretty easy going compared to a masterpiece like Euripides’ “Bacchae”..

  2. heh, that’s about what I’d expect. I cant think of two movies more opposite in tone than Totoro and Fireflies.

    To be honest I will eventually see Fireflies again, and when I do I am sure I will like it better than I did last time. Still, there are many, many more pressing priorities ahead of it.

  3. Fireflies is not a film that expects to be liked — but rather one that invites (or even expects) reflection. ;~}

    But there is no doubt that watching Only Yesterday (and Yamadas — and Anne of Green Gables, etc) is a lot more fun.

  4. No — the story is not satirical. This is indeed how the two films were initially shown in Japanese theaters. I’ve seen this mentioned in interviews given by Miyazaki and Takahata.

  5. The funny thing about the back-to-back factoid is that they decided to do it because they thought Totoro was a “difficult sell.” I did a double take when I read that. The Onion AV Club is definitely not satire, but in a case like this, it sure seems like it!

    (Thanks for the link:)

  6. Well, the fact that Grave of the Fireflies is based off of a well known book in Japan (one that’s required reading in some Japanese schools from what I understand) gave that movie a guaranteed audience. That should make it much less surprising that GotF was the one that was supposed to carry Totoro.

    There’s quite a bit of infomation on Grave of the Fireflies on Especially check out the FAQ there.

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