fri 29/05/2020

DVD: Kiki's Delivery Service and Grave of the Fireflies | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Kiki's Delivery Service and Grave of the Fireflies

DVD: Kiki's Delivery Service and Grave of the Fireflies

Designed for children who want to grow up fast, two pivotal Japanese animated features come to Blu-ray

'Grave of the Fireflies': one of the saddest movies ever made?

For the child who wants to see everything, Japanese anime Studio Ghibli’s Blu-ray double bill of 1989’s Kiki’s Delivery Service and 1988’s Grave of the Fireflies – called one of the saddest movies ever made – brings a fresh truckload of emotion. Based on novels, both films are award-winners pivotal in the history of Japanese animation.

For the child who wants to see everything, Japanese anime Studio Ghibli’s Blu-ray double bill of 1989’s Kiki’s Delivery Service and 1988’s Grave of the Fireflies – called one of the saddest movies ever made – brings a fresh truckload of emotion. Based on novels, both films are award-winners pivotal in the history of Japanese animation. In Kiki’s Delivery Service (aka Witch’s Delivery Service) a young witch, according to custom, spends one year in another town surviving on her own magic. Grave of the Fireflies tells the harrowing tale of a young boy and his younger sister in the harsh climate of World War Two Japan, specifically the firebombing of Kobe in 1945.

Akiyuki Nosaka, who wrote the semi-autobiographical novel upon which Fireflies is based, once said it was a "double suicide" story – not the sort of thing parents would be overjoyed for their children to watch. As for it being the saddest film ever made, it isn’t because no film could be. That said, Fireflies is effective and affecting to viewers who don’t have the experience of, say, Old Yeller or The Red Pony. Animal Farm (1954) is the closest in feel to Fireflies. In short, however, Fireflies is considered an anime classic that should be seen by everyone interested in its art and craft.

Directed by My Neighbor Totoro’s Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki's English dub featured Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo and Debbie Reynolds in its easy-to-watch tale in which a young witch encounters love and loss, depression and fame. In short, Kiki is everything kids like to watch and learn about. Children, after all, want to grow up fast and Kiki shows them an aerial view of the adult landscape. Its animation style is light and modern, colourful and easy to watch – unlike Fireflies, which is forebidding and dour in keeping with a tragic story.

Both Blu-ray and DVD discs are in double play editions. They have a flood of extras, including, in Fireflies, the late Roger Ebert telling us, with mixed results, why the film is important. The film is important, but Ebert is straining a bit to intellectualise just why.

Fireflies is a 'double suicide' story – not the sort of thing parents would be overjoyed for their children to watch

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Average: 3 (1 vote)

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