9 Maman Philippe

week 9 drawing

While watching Grave of the Fireflies my first inclination was to write on the subject of lyrical isolation in a world where nihilism has taken over. By this I mean that Seita and Setsuko, upon rejecting the society that seems to lack a place for them, let go of formalities and move out on their own. They make their own food, sit how they want at dinner, and even steal in order to maintain a life separate from the Japan that no longer exists for them. We see a decadent response to defeat in Seita and Setsuko. In the film, it is only Seita and Setsuko that continue to experience lyrical moments with the world around them. They still appreciate the fireflies’ beauty and the mystical curiosity that comes along with discovering a hideout that is truly their own. What surprises me in the midst of this lyricism, is that they adopt the same ideals as the rest of Japan even though they consciously try to separate themselves. They turn inwards to find solace after losing their parents and their connections to a collective ideology. In themselves though, they still find the soul of Japan and end up returning to it. I say this because what they are doing is looking outside their former crushed ideals to find meaning just as the rest of the country does. Their rebellion is futile, simply because it is just a different expression of disillusionment than the rest of Japan exhibits. Their age then must be the differentiating factor. As children they are naturally moved to rebel. When their parents no longer provide the concrete ideals to push away from, society then takes on that role. In Summer Flowers we are presented with a world on fire. Tamiki leaves us with the quote, “Please, Lord. If it’s going to happen, let all of Hiroshima go up in smoke in the next three days.” No one desired to have his or her homeland and ideology shattered, but since it has been broken, it must be fully abandoned. If it does not work, there can be no hanging on to a middle ground. Seita and Setsuko embody this change in a more extreme literal sense and that is why they never truly find meaning or escape.

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