Film Night report: Grave of the Fireflies
Ten students came out Monday evening for a showing of “Grave of the Fireflies,” the 1986 Studio Ghibli film about Seita and Setsuko, two orphans struggling to survive in bombed out Japan in 1945. The film is bittersweet—the children live as the fireflies, glowing brightly for a brief time before their early deaths. It is based on a memoir by Nosaka Akiyuki, a war orphan who really did watch his younger sister starve to death.
Dr. Steven Dike hosted a brief discussion beforehand about the American firebombing of 1945 that reduced much of 66 Japanese cities to rubble, leaving about 900,000 Japanese civilians dead and eight million more homeless. Most Americans remember the atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but in fact, the United States had arrived at a point where it could cause destruction nearly as total with conventional weapons. A single raid over Tokyo killed as many civilians as did the bombing of Hiroshima. General Curtis LeMay, in charge of the campaign, was blunt about his methods: “I’ll tell you what war is about. You’ve got to kill people, and when you’ve killed enough they stop fighting.”