I watched an interesting anime the other night called The Grave of the Fireflies. This is an extremely depressing movie that expresses profound human sentiment and emotion, all evinced by cute snub-nosed big-eyed anime characters. This can be kind of hard to come to terms with at first. It took me a little bit of processing before I could talk about it. It’s really a deeply moving film. It ain’t Disney. We’re talking cartoons as an art form expressing deep cogitations of war, starvation, and what it is to live.
First of all, in the case that you ever happen to watch this flick, don’t watch it with English voice-overs. Turn on the subtitulos. Watching dubbed movies is a waste of time, whether it’s anime or kung-fu porn. C’mon, you can read. Somehow dubbed movies lose the cultural context that imbues them with any sense of meaning. They just become weird foreign films.
Anyway, I admit to being taken aback by this film simply by the extreme contrast of appearance and content. I haven’t really watched much anime, I’ve only seen some Hayao Miyazaki stuff. The format, style, and methods of anime animation are completely foreign to Western sensibilities. But once you get into it a little, they seem pretty imaginative. Like graphic novels on the rise here in the States, maybe anime will make it’s way more broadly into the Western film lexicon—as in instead of just Hollywood remakes of popular cartoons like Batman and Spiderman, they will actually craft dark, adult, cool cartoons. Or not. Guess there’s always the subtitled stuff.