In 1944, Suzu Urano moves to the small town of Kure in Hiroshima where she marries Shuusaku Houjou—a young clerk who works at the local naval base. Living with his family, Suzu becomes essential to the running of the household and creatively prepares meals during the tough wartime conditions while also carrying out daily housework. In 1945, intense bombings by the U.S. military finally reach Kure with devastating effect to the townsfolk and their way of life. Suzu's life is changed irrevocably, but through perseverance and courage, she manages to continue to live life to the fullest.
Winner of the 40th Japan Academy Award for Best Animation Award, the 90th Kinema Junpo Best Ten Japan Film Best 1 and Director Award, 71st Mainichi Film Concurs Japanese Movie Excellence Award and Ofuji Nobushiro Prize, 59th Blue Ribbon Award Director Award, Hiroshima Peace Film Award during the 3rd Hiroshima International Film Festival, and the Best Film during the 38th Yokohama Film Festival.
A "Slice of Life" in Kure and Hiroshima in 1940s, Involving Love, Laughter, Fantasy, Hope, and Death.
The protagonist is a nonchalant (at least on the surface) and a bit dreamy ordinary girl who loves to draw and paint. She is raised in Hiroshima and marries into a family of a young man employed in the naval town of Kure,
The movies goes into great detail showing the life of an ordinary family of that time. It starts as a great slice of life, of her old-style marriage with a new husband, sharing life with in-laws and communicating with neighbors. There are happy, sweet, and tender
moments although the life is set in wartime, and the hardship gradually creeps into life. The relationship with the sister-in-law is a bit fictitious, but the protagonist forms a solid bond with the family and the relationship to her little niece is just beautiful.
And I will stop there, as it would be a great spoiler.
I will only add that air raid scenes were really terrifying, although it was not right in your face bloody. The reason why almost excessive showing of daily life was necessary becomes evident when the war becomes very personal and relate-able to the protagonist, and you are shown what war can do to people leaving emotional and physical scars. The effects of the A Bomb is not directly shown apart from a later brief horrifying scene (as the protagonist was in Kure, 30-40km away from Hiroshima), but depicted as a culmination of personal tragedies in a mass scale (if one could feel the great tormenting pain and sorrow of losing a loved one in Kure which was attacked by conventional incendiary bombings, then imagining the tragedy of hundreds of thousands lives lost in Hiroshima can evoke fear and despair without showing it right in the face).
I groaned in the theater as shedding tears was not enough to control my emotions. After the film finished I was in the streets with Christmas lights and happy faces around among families and friends. The world felt very ordinary yet very fragile. I kept on half-weeping on the train heading home.
This is a very well done film with a distinct art-style (it is realistic but it's a reality only achieved by animation and not a photoshop production using photographs or rotoscope), thorough research in history, and passion. I don't know if this film is the best of all war films, but I think it is one of the best animated films produced dealing with war (I can't say which is better- the Grave of Fireflies, or this).
This should be seen at theaters with a wide screen and good audio.
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