Grave of the Fireflies and WWII

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Postby n00dle » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:33 pm

I tried to like Grave of the Fireflies, but I just can't get into it. I don't full on hate it, it's very good, but it's...shall we say...liberties with historical accuracy just irritate the hell out of me. Like the whole sequence with the fighter strafing the village just seems so false to me.

Well ok, I don't think its really the lack of accuracy per se that annoys me. Lots of movies I like are inaccurate, like Enemy At the Gates gets like 100 things totally wrong. I think I don't like GotF because of what I know it undoubtedly did to the Japanese understanding of history. Japanese schooling basically skips about a 50 year period of history, they are not proud of their actions in WW2. And the misrepresentation of the conflict in GotF probably did more harm than good. I understand that things weren't good for the Japanese, and that times were tough, but it just seems they were presenting a pretty biased view of events.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:49 pm

The thing I loved about GotF is it had no political agenda. Yeah, you know that they're referring to WW2, but it never once makes any kind of commentary on Japan's involvment, or America's for that matter. It's simply a film that shows the awful effects of war. These effects end up hurting the innocent and those that don't have the power to help themselves more than anyone. The more you think about how things end up disentegrating in the film, the more it hurts. The effects of war reaches everyone, and it's not their fault that they can't help Seita and Setsuko, because they're struggling themselves.

I honestly believe it's the most powerful war film ever made. I'd say it's one of the most powerful and moving pieces of fiction ever, period. I've never watched a film that left me feeling as shattered as it did. But I guess it's a personal thing...
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Postby Ornette » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:06 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:The thing I loved about GotF is it had no political agenda. Yeah, you know that they're referring to WW2, but it never once makes any kind of commentary on Japan's involvment, or America's for that matter. It's simply a film that shows the awful effects of war. These effects end up hurting the innocent and those that don't have the power to help themselves more than anyone. The more you think about how things end up disentegrating in the film, the more it hurts. The effects of war reaches everyone, and it's not their fault that they can't help Seita and Setsuko, because they're struggling themselves.

I honestly believe it's the most powerful war film ever made. I'd say it's one of the most powerful and moving pieces of fiction ever, period. I've never watched a film that left me feeling as shattered as it did. But I guess it's a personal thing...

Plus it was based on a true story, written by Seita (obviously he didn't die in real life, and that wasn't his real name). I'd also lop this more into the "anti-war film" category, since there was almost no focus on the actual war, just a few mentions of it to let you know there was a war going on.

Another fairly good anti-war anime is Barefoot Gen, which had a similar setting, but the war aspect wasn't nearly as subtle.

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Postby n00dle » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:38 pm

I'm not talking about the personal side of GotF. I agree with you completely in that respect. It's just that the admittedly few times the Americans are portrayed in the movie just grate on me. I seriously doubt American pilots were going around strafing lone villages for no reason. And again, I feel that for the average Japanese teenager who saw it, without any real knowledge of WW2, probably came away with a very skewed view of things.

Lets just be honest, the average Japanese citizen doesn't know much about what their side did during the war. They know little, or nothing at all about the Rape of Nanking, the Bataan Death March, research on and torture of PoW's, or any number of other, similar things. Quite frankly, the Japanese deserved every bit of suffering, and every second of bombing that was brought down on them in the Second World War. I just feel that GotF makes them out to be poor, innocent victims, at least to an uneducated Japanese audience.
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Postby Ornette » Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:24 pm

n00dle wrote:I just feel that GotF makes them out to be poor, innocent victims, at least to an uneducated Japanese audience.

It made the 2 main characters out to be poor, innocent victims. The rest of the people who survived the firebombing in the beginning of the movie were doing fine and their indifference help lead to the death of Setsuko. And according to the Japanese exchange students that I've talked to and lived with, they seem to have more knowledge about the attrocities inflicted by Japan in the 20th century than I do.

And according to Lee Kennett's, "History of Strategic Bombing"; page 176, medium bombers and fighter aircraft were often sent out to attack the outlying hamlets in the countryside and noted that "operations blurred further the distinction between military and civilian objective."

EDIT: In an attempt to get a little back on topic. Some shows for the summer season that I'm looking forward to and will be watching:

Second Season of: Higurashi, Zero no Tsukaima, Dokuro-chan, Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpuchou
Also, Sky Girls TV, the 4th Karas story, Tetsuko no Tabi (tentative), Mushi-Uta, Moetan, Baccano! (this looks really interesting), and Zombie-Loan
Last edited by Ornette on Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:30 pm

Ornette wrote:It made the 2 main characters out to be poor, innocent victims. The rest of the people who survived the firebombing in the beginning of the movie were doing fine and their indifference help lead to the death of Setsuko.
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We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby n00dle » Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:51 pm

Exchange students are one thing. I'm not talking about them though, I'm speaking of the average Japanese high-schooler. Japan has taken an interesting approach to it's history teaching of this particular period, ie, they don't talk about it. Don't think about it much and maybe it, and the shame attached to it, will eventually fade away. And that approach is working out pretty well, to be honest. Compare this to Germany, where they are extremely aware of the atrocities and are ashamed of them, so much so that they outright ban pretty much anything even vaguely Nazi-like.

Hell, in Japan any book about WW2 that sells 300,000 copies is considered a hit. This in a nation that has as high a population, and a population that eats up various forms of print material in as high of numbers as Japan is pretty telling.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:26 pm

I really don't understand why you feel Japan's widespread ignorance about their involvement in the war has to do with the film. The film doesn't really make any commentary about either side of the war. I mean, we friggin BOMBED Hiroshima, so would you have rather them shown that? To me, fighters strafing towns is quite a bit less worse than that, even if it is inaccurate. I mean, as far as the film goes they could've set it in a completely different alternate reality and it would've still had as much impact. The over-arching anti-war sentiment is universal no matter where it's at or what war it is.
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We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
Jimbo has posted enough to be considered greater than or equal to everyone, and or synonymous with the concept of 'everyone'. - Muggy
I've seen so many changeful years, / to Earth I am a stranger grown: / I wander in the ways of men, / alike unknowing and unknown: / Unheard, unpitied, unrelieved, / I bear alone my load of care; / For silent, low, on beds of dust, / Lie all that would my sorrows share. - Robert Burns' Lament for James

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Postby n00dle » Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:21 pm

I say again: the whole strafing scene just feels forced.

American pilot: "oh look, a village, with no military targets in sight. just a harmless, random village. oh look, civies! time for some killin'!"

*proceeds to try and butcher some people in the street*

It just pisses me off.
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Postby THE Hal E. Burton 9000 » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:12 pm

Admins/mods, might want to move the last few off-topic posts to its own thread. Just sayin'...
Well, I think Japan, its people and culture have a lot of self-loathing and hatred when it comes to its imperial and militaristic past. And anytime that such moves are perceived, a la the US or most any military action other than those that are purely carried out in self-defense (hence the name of its military being the Japan Self-Defense Forces), it is ridiculed with an ironically hostile pacifistic view (similar to some antiwar groups in the US). Although, this anti-military view is nowhere near as absolutist as it was thirty or even twenty years ago in Japan, and is actually slowly turning to the opposite view, especially considering next door there's a growing military might like the China-Coms coupled with this guy running the northern end of the Korean Peninsula: Image
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Postby Ornette » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:37 pm

n00dle wrote:I say again: the whole strafing scene just feels forced.

American pilot: "oh look, a village, with no military targets in sight. just a harmless, random village. oh look, civies! time for some killin'!"

*proceeds to try and butcher some people in the street*

It just pisses me off.


From my previous post wrote:And according to Lee Kennett's, "History of Strategic Bombing"; page 176, medium bombers and fighter aircraft were often sent out to attack the outlying hamlets in the countryside and noted that "operations blurred further the distinction between military and civilian objective."

So, yeah, replace American Pilot with Curtis LeMay and you're more or less on the mark. Curtis LeMay was the mastermind of the firebombing strategy, the kill the civilians that work at the factories to get the Japanese people to lose backing of the war, and later said: "I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal." The whole point of the bombers and fighters are to kill civilians, incinderaries for starting the fires mixed with a few bombs to kill the families that are trying to put the fires out.

But regardless, the fighter pilot scene did have a narrative significance. It was something that started Seita into his string of stealing food. Jumps out of the way of the fire, lands in a field of tomatoes, haven't eaten in days, hmm... This further separates the plight of Seita and Setsuko from the rest of the Japanese people seen in this movie. Everyone else has plenty of food, has rations, and at the beach, we even see how well off rich (and indifferent) Japanese familes are.

Also, this is a pretty good article briefly that covers the criticisms of Japanese History books:
http://www.indiana.edu/~ssdc/jptextdig.htm
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Postby Defectron » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:51 pm

I seriously doubt American pilots were going around strafing lone villages for no reason.


Actually from what I understand the American military was pretty ruthless towards even civilian targets in Japan and Germany. I don't think it was that innacurate.
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Postby BobBQ » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:55 pm

In war, there are no good guys and no nice guys. There are only winners and losers, and the latter always far outnumber the former.

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Postby n00dle » Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:35 am

Well, I think Japan, its people and culture have a lot of self-loathing and hatred when it comes to its imperial and militaristic past.


I disagree. The Japanese have no problem with Imperial themes, they just don't like a particular time period. Like I said, there's about a 50 year period they simply don't like to cover in history classes. Consider the number of Anime that take place during the Meiji period. Everything from Rurouni Kenshin to Samurai Champloo. Now compare to the number of Anime that take place during WW2, or the years leading up to it. There's GotF...and um...that one Anime with the guys going back to the Battle of Midway and trying to not interfere. And thats about it.

Yes, I understand that we did attack civilians. My point is, just because your given the order to do so, do you think you would go and strafe a bunch of kids on a dirt road? And again, I'm talking about how this would seem to the average Japanese viewer. With no additional information given in the film, what do you think they are gonna assume?
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Postby Ornette » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:16 am

n00dle wrote:Consider the number of Anime that take place during the Meiji period. Everything from Rurouni Kenshin to Samurai Champloo. Now compare to the number of Anime that take place during WW2, or the years leading up to it. There's GotF...and um...that one Anime with the guys going back to the Battle of Midway and trying to not interfere. And thats about it.

You're comparing an era ruled by a Japanese Emperor (45-60 years?) to World War II? Also, wasn't Champloo during the Edo period (preceding the Meiji era)?

Off the top of my head there's:
Barefoot Gen
Cockpit
Zipang
Honoo no Alpen Rose
The Harp of Burma
Porco Rosso (takes place during WWII, supposedly)
Season of the Sun
Gunparade March

Likewise, I'm sure there's more shows set in the Meiji Era, but how many shows can be set during WWII without there be specific WWII imagery? Honoo no Alpen Rose was set during WWII but you'd never know unless that was mentioned because the show has nothing to do with war. There's only so many premises you can work with.

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Postby zephyr72 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:44 am

It was portrayed quite accurately. I don`t know about outlying villages but the fire bombings of tokyo killed more people (mostly civies) in total than the big bombs did in their respective cities. Maybe even more than hiroshima and nagasaki combined (cannot quite remember). Personally, i don`t think civilians deserve to die (though i understand that it`s a certainty in war).

Other than that, I didn`t really care for the movie that much either. All i thought about it was that it was sad, I didn`t find it beautiful or moving.

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Postby THE Hal E. Burton 9000 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:02 am

zephyr72 wrote:<snip> I don`t know about outlying villages but the fire bombings of tokyo killed more people (mostly civies) in total than the big bombs did in their respective cities. Maybe even more than hiroshima and nagasaki combined (cannot quite remember). Personally, i don`t think civilians deserve to die (though i understand that it`s a certainty in war).
Per capita wise, I think you might be correct. And the likely reason for this was because of the use of incendiary bombs (look up Dresden, Germany) and the fact that nearly all Japanese residences in outlying villages were huts built mostly of straw and other easily flammable materials.

And what BobBQ said on war in general and what Ornette-kun said about the Edo period.
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Postby BobBQ » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:43 am

n00dle wrote:Yes, I understand that we did attack civilians. My point is, just because your given the order to do so, do you think you would go and strafe a bunch of kids on a dirt road?

Ever hear of My Lai? Or how about the recent scandals involving US troops murdering civvies in Iraq?

Ornette wrote:Gunparade March

Nope; it's set in 1999, in an alternate history in which aliens invaded Earth in 1945. I don't know about the game itself, but the anime adaptation has no WWII scenes at all that I can remember.

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Postby n00dle » Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:23 am

Civies don't deserve to die eh? Tell that to the people of Nanking. Oh wait, you can't, cause their dead.
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Postby Trigger's Elysium » Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:29 am

What are you trying to reinforce in your argument by bringing up the Rape of Nanking? We haven't said anything about whether the Japanese were right/wrong in WW2; no one's "right", like Bob said. We're just giving you the facts about what the Americans DID do, and how their portrayal in GotF was accurate. Stop treating the Americans as saints. Other then this, i'm staying out of this one.
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