This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Emilia Holmström’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
World war 2 rages in the background and the young orphaned siblings Seita and Setsuko try to survive it on their own.
This is probably the most touching animated film you'll ever see. One of the Studio Ghibli favourites that I had been saving for the right moment, meaning a calm evening without any personal drama that would over-enhance the melancholy of the film.
I have never seen portrayal of childhood as accurate as in Setsuko's character. The depiction of war and its terrors is also beyond compare, at times I forgot that I was watching an animated film. It felt almost documentary-like. The whole imagery, symbolism and the accompanying music is utterly breathtaking.
The main theme for me is the bond between the siblings. The war is omnipresent, but more like as a force of nature. Its reasons and wider consequences are not discussed, which makes me question the fact that people see it mainly as an anti-war film. Sure, it makes you hate war by simply stating the facts, but I would argue that the only thing the film really points its finger at is how the children are left to tend to themselves, both from the family's and the society's side.
The film offers no easy way out and no happy ending. However, behind the sadness and the tragedy, the love between the main characters prevails. Most of the film is about their happy moments together despite of the horrors of the surrounding world. And I guess that's what really resonated with me: what ever the circumstances, you can make your own version of happiness with the people you hold dear.