I can hear my friend Amanda’s voice in my head “That’s horrible”. Ok if you have never seen the Japanese anime “Grave of Fireflies” and plan to at some point you should probably stop reading here because the rest of this is going to contain spoilers.
It’s really hard to disguise what a geek I am when so many things in Taiwan cater to my inner geek. There was a time when I was a huge fan of anime. I haven’t watched any in a long time but to me the master is and always will be Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is well known for Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away (won an oscar) , Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle (oscar nominated), and my favorite Nausicaa.
Miyazaki’s heaviest work is a movie called “Grave of Fireflies”. It’s set in Japan during WWII. Setsuko and Seita are a brother and sister who are left homeless after losing their mother in an air raid. They temporarily live with an aunt’s family but after she starts to steal their food, supplies and manipulate them they leave and live in an abandoned shelter.
The movie ends up being unbearably depressing. It’s pretty amazing for an animated movie to be able to steal the award for “the most depressing movie I’ve ever seen” considering I watch hundreds and hundreds of movies but I’ve never watched anything that has left me with such a lasting sick stomach and broken heart. I’ve seen all kinds that gave me a few hours of feeling in need of a Xanax but NOTHING and I mean NOTHING can ever top the pain of this movie…. and if it can I don’t ever want to be exposed to it.
*BIG SPOILERS START HERE*
So if you haven’t seen the movie and never intend to, basically here’s how it goes: due to lack of support and a country in disarray from war Setsuko and Seita are unable to properly nourish themselves. They have a meager amount of food. The big brother does all he can to comfort his little sister and keep her spirit light. He captures fireflies and puts them in a jar so she can have some light at night and something beautiful to look at. He tries his best to find what food he can. One of the items that his sister Setsuko has aside from a ragged doll is a tin full fruit candies. We’ve all had these before. Hard as rock and they taste more like fruit flavored cardboard than anything else.
In the end Setsuko begins to starve to death. She sucks on her candies for comfort and when they are gone she fills the tin with water and drinks the colored water flavored by the candy residue. Finally when delirium takes over and she’s dying her brother finds her sucking on small marbles that she had put inside the tin:
So knowing all this, and having seen the movie. Who in their *right* mind would think that this is a great advertising scheme????? I laughed in awe and horror and then (of course) had to buy them when I found the tin.
That’s right kids, for just 50NT you two can enjoy fruity flavored treats in our cute little tin, but unlike Setsuko there is no reason to starve, just ask your mom to buy some more! Har har har.
Or like someone is going to be watching the movie and at the end think “Wow, those candies sure looked delicious. Man, where can I get those???”
It was painful just searching for videos on youtube to demonstrate that this is the same tin and the same candies that Setsuko had for the purpose of the entry. I can’t believe anyone thought this was a cute way to advertise candy. But I guess they made me buy it, didn’t they?
Movies this traumatizing really should come with a warning. Regardless it’s a piece of art and Miyazaki is a master.