What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that fans of Japanese animation -- heck, fans of all animation -- pretty much agree, this is the saddest cartoon of all time, a potentially traumatic viewing experience. Two sympathetic children sicken and slowly die (and their mother is hideously wounded before her own demise), with the only balm being that the kids' spirits have a tender afterlife reunion. There is a beating, wartime aerial bombardment and gunfire, and other dead bodies are shown, both soldiers and civilians. The larger issues of WWII (like why Americans might be incinerating Japanese villagers) are never discussed. A few minor plot details are best comprehended with a knowledge of Japanese custom and culture (especially funerals!).
- Families can talk about the way the characters react to the strife of wartime. What might you have done in Seita's place?
- Why does Seita make the calamitous decision to try and live with Setsuko all on his own?
- Would this story have been equally as affecting if it had been told using live-action, not animation? What if characters had been grownups, not kids?