died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

hotaru no haka: live action version

Lest we forget how much we have to eat in the developed world today (actually in memory of 60 years since the end of world war II), Nihon Television broadcast a live action of the story turned animation Hotaru no Haka (Grave of Fireflies). It's the story of a brother and sister struggliing through the firebombings brought by the Americans during world war II.

The ending, though, was dissapointing, where they added this scene in which the older brother, starving with setsuko about to die, meets the mother he was living with. He kind of asks if he can move back into the house with them, and she says 'even if you brought food with you, I still don't have enough to feed my own children.

All that aside, both versions do a great job of describing the desperate food conditions during the war. Food rations, constant servings of soup, White rice is a great luxury (and indeed was for a very long time)

It's hard not to get somewhat emotional seeing all of this. The only reason the Americans remember any damage we did to the Japanese mainland is because of the a-bomb's technological historic siginifigance; if it had been dropped in a different country, we wouldn't remember anything. I wish Americans had to see this movie or something similar to it in school even once in contrast to all the holocaust stuff they show year after year after year. I know it's not really on the same level, and that the Japanese did plenty of awful things that the government tries to forget about (but I didn't learn about that either in school) but I don't really like it that we don't see both sides or the eurocentricism of 'world' history. The message of the movie was that 'no one is a winner in war', and perhaps it would be better if we were taught that message too.


At 6:36 AM, Blogger michael said...

Travis, thank you for your post on this. I very much like Hatoru No Haka, even though I've only watched the DVD when I need a good emotional release. I was looking up this film on Nausicaa.net and found that there was a live action version. Simply amazing!

I envy that you were able to see it. I hope that this will make its way to the US and I can watch it in Japanese with subtitles, but I don't know if I could make it through it. I'm a bit disappointed at the extra scene near the ending that you mentioned. And looking over the official site at ntv, it seems like there are several young women in the film that did not seem to be in the anime.

Again thanks for posting about this. You seem to be the only person I've found who has much of anything about it.

How long are you in Tokyo for? I've got a good friend in Kochi teaching English in the JET program.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Travis said...

hey michael aka puff the magic dragon,

I really doubt that there will be a release of this abroad. I just don't really see a market for it. But what do I know?

I don't really think of this as a sad movie. It portrays the reality of war, and in particular, the devastation of the fire bombings of Japan during wwII, something we never seriously read about in world history classes.

I've been here about 5 yeras, and was a CIR on the JET program for one year a couple years back.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger michael said...

I hope there is a DVD release. I'd love to see it here. We have AZN TV (formerly the International Channnel) here and this would be perfect. They (AZN) aired the anime of Hatoru a few weeks back, but it was in full screen and dubbed - which is not the way to watch the film.

Have you seen the anime? If so, how does it compare? To me, the anime is heart-wrenching, which is why I think I'd have a difficult time watching this with people. Of course, I have a daughter close in age to Setsuko, when I first watched it, so I was particularly affected.

I've not had a history class in years, but you are right in that our view (every societies view actually) of history is very selective. I know almost nothing about the war in Kosovo for example. I've read several things on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, mostly on Wikipedia. The official Hiroshima site is very good. What shocked me was learning that one primary reason to choose Hiroshima as a target was the fact that it had been spared during much of the war and the overall effect of the bomb could be assessed using such a clean target. They don't tell you that in history class. All I recall was the saving of the expected one million lives that would be lost during a full-scale invasion. I also don't remember hearing that Japan had been trying to surrender for months, on the condition that the emperor remain, but the US would not budge on this.

I wonder how much the internment camps are mentioned in current world history classes now?

I'll ask my friend what a CIR is the next time I hear from him. Also, I never thought of myself as Puff, hahaha, I just always liked the quote.

At 12:12 AM, Blogger michael said...

One more quick question I forgot to ask please. How are you getting multiple images per post? And how are you getting your text to wrap around them? I'm using Hello to post and then going in and editing the posts to add my text.

Thanks - Mike

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Travis said...


you might want to email the channel directly requesting a dvd with english subtitles be made for a foreign release.

my point is exactly that we only learn about the atom bomb because of the technological signifigance. if we had done it in another country, the discussion about the attacks done on japanese soil would be basically zero. The amount of destruction, human and financial, from the fire bombings witnessed in Hotaru no haka was far more than that of the atomic bombs. I like this film in that it shows that. But we brush that aside for whatever reason because of the historical signifigance of nuclear technology. What about the russo- or sino- japanese wars? Nothing. Just Kaiser Wilhhelm and whoever that serbian prince was that was the catalist for wwI. And endless amounts of info about the holocaust. (How many years in a row do I have to see escape from sobibor?)

The american military could have selected a far more devastating place to drop nuclear weapons. While it is true that they did select if for the reasons you stated, I do think that the places they did choose to drop them are the closest the military could get to firing metaphorical shots in the air to force japan to surrender.

If you're using blogger, you should be able to use blogger to post your images; check out your tool bar next time, or start using flikr instead.


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