Walking downhill from Tisch, I felt a steady, cold breeze.
The experience of watching Grave of the Fireflies was enhanced by the discussions we had in class. The movie is a great example of mono no aware because even though it is doused in tragedy, there are moments filled with happiness shared between the Setsuko and Seita. Furthermore, it exemplifies evanescence. Just as the sakura falls at the peek of its beauty, so do the fireflies and Setsuko, both of which are tragic and beautiful. We even notice individual characters transform into harsh and selfish people. This is evident in the aunt who evolves into a woman who continually insults and deprives the two of food until it seems they have no choice but to leave the house. The aunt illustrated the tendency for the Japanese to veer away from their premodern selves during modern and war times. The individualistic and unsympathetic nature of people like the aunt, the doctor, and the man providing cremation materials to Seita is reminiscent of the Rape of Nanking. Of course it is not as overtly grotesque, but we notice the same tendency for people to enter into this contradicting mentality that is both cult-like in the sense that the nation is at the epicenter, yet it is individualistic in that people are fighting against each other to survive. I think this mind set consumed people to the point where they lose their sense of self to the war effort, and for the Japanese, a large part of this was losing bushido characteristics. This was also evident in Summer Flowers. For example, when the narrator says he “lived every day in dire need of food. No one in [the] town extended a helping hand to the victims” (Tamiki 63). However, after the bombs, it seems as though these anti-Japanese characteristics diminish. We see the type of nothingness evolve from mu to nihil, the landscape destroyed, yet at the war’s end, comradery between citizens and selflessness is restored. The “unbearable resentment against this absurdity bound [them] together; [they] needed no words” (Tamiki 52). So even though many Japanese people were stripped of everything they owned, they had people who could relate to them without exchanging words.