3 words: Big Manly Tears. You have been warned.
Last year, I found a very good deal at either TS or Poh Kim. Basically, it is 6 Studio Ghibli films for only $20. Inside there is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Only Yesterday and Grave of the Fireflies. The first 4 films are all wonderful, highly imaginative films that makes you wish you can fly. They also include the common themes of innocence, environment protection and courage. Only Yesterday is a sweet story about a lady trip down memory lane back to her hometown.
However, Grave of the Fireflies belong to another world all together. It is a slow haunting tale about WWII based on the experiences of 2 little Japanese children. I had previously talked about war films and Letters from Iwo Jima. This animation is along the same vein with nothing that feels in-your-face. It has no great powerful scenes like Pearl Harbor, but trust me, it knocks you out more powerfully with its message about what happens to the little people.
Rowland says it well: "In my mind it's really hard to declare anything a "victory" when you've accidentally killed a bunch of little kids in the process."