Sixth in a series of disorganized thoughts I am left with immediately after watching something.
A few weeks ago, I was at Fry’s Electronics, looking through their movies. In the Children’s & Family section, I was somewhat amused to find Studio Ghibli’s grim “Grave of the Fireflies” wedged alphabetically between such fare as “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” and “The Great Mouse Detective”. Ostensibly, it was created as a family-oriented feature, and in fact debuted on a double billing with the much much lighter “My Neighbor Totoro”. However, due to its harrowing depiction of the trials and tragedy of young war orphans struggling against starvation and societal collapse in the wake of the Kobe firebombings of WWII, it is very often reshelved under, say, drama.
Think about that… a double feature of children dying during wartime, backed with “My Neighbor Totoro”, one of the breeziest, most cheerful, most fantastical fixtures of Ghibli’s catalog. Heck, recreate the experience at home! Watch them back to back, and I doubt you’ll come away from it thinking, “doing that was a normal kind of idea”. I’m guessing they showed Totoro second, kind of a dessert after the main course? But in my American upbringing, it’s basically, “no dessert until you finish your vegetables”. This is more like, “no dessert until you finish your vegetables, and I smack you around a bit”.