It is probably not an overstatement to say that many view the films produced by Studio Ghibli to be the gateway for the Japanese animation craze gaining traction across the globe. Easily accessible in foreign countries and boasting universally engaging and uplifting storylines, works like Spirited Away or My Neighbour Totoro directed by Hayao MIYAZAKI have become household names worldwide. However, the contributions of the other creative giant for Studio Ghibli, Isao TAKAHATA, have sometimes slipped under the radar; in particular those works with storylines which cannot necessarily be classed as fantasy or family friendly. One such film is Grave of the Fireflies, directed by TAKAHATA and based on an autobiographical story by NOSAKA Akiyuki. The film follows two Japanese children orphaned by a catastrophic air raid in Kobe, portraying their struggle to survive the last days of the Second World War with an unflinching realism rarely seen in animation. But why has this film been left out of the frenzied consumption of Studio Ghibli’s works?
In conjunction with the release of the first book-length study of the film in English, Grave of the Fireflies (BFI Film Classics) in May, we invite the author, Alex Dudok de Wit, a journalist with expertise on Japanese anime, to explore his findings and the significance of this title. With critical analysis contextualised by the film’s production background, he will focus on Isao TAKAHATA’s contribution to the animation genre, moving away from the more common spotlight on Hayao MIYAZAKI’s work. His presentation, which will include live reading of short passages from the book, will be followed by a conversation with Dr YOSHIOKA Shiro, lecturer in Japanese Studies at Newcastle University, who specialises in MIYAZAKI and Studio Ghibli’s animation.
‘Grave of the Fireflies’ by Alex Dudok de Wit will be published by Bloomsbury on 6 May (ISBN 9781838719241) as part of the BFI Film Classics series. The attendees of this event will receive a special discount code for purchasing their own copy.
About the guest speakers
Alex Dudok de Wit is a journalist who writes chiefly about the art and business of animation. He is the Associate Editor at Cartoon Brew, the most widely read animation news site, and an animation correspondent for Sight & Sound, the magazine of the British Film Institute. His writing has also appeared on the BBC and in Vulture, Little White Lies, The Telegraph, The i, The Independent, Time Out, and Index on Censorship. His first book, Grave of the Fireflies (BFI Film Classics), was published by Bloomsbury on May 6.
YOSHIOKA Shiro is lecturer in Japanese Studies of Newcastle University. His main research interest is Japanese popular culture, especially anime. He has published articles and book chapters on Ghibli, Miyazaki and Takahata in English and Japanese, and is currently working on a monograph on Miyazaki, which overviews his life and career focusing on how he came to be seen as an auteur and quasi-intellectual. Besides Miyazaki and Ghibli, recently he is interested in how fans experience anime beyond the texts in various ways such as ‘pilgrimage’ to the locales.
Please note that this will be an Online Event held on Zoom.
This online event is free to attend but registration is essential.
To reserve your space, please book your ticket here.
Ghibli Double Bill!
If you’re interested in this event, you might enjoy the below event
hosted by our New York office:
Exporting Studio Ghibli: The Road to Worldwide Recognition
Date: 27 May, 7:00pm (BST)
Online Zoom event. Book here.