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In 2001 during the year of the first released issue of W.I.T.C.H., I was a 12 year old girl still in the sixth grade and drawing anime style characters, such as Sailor Moon, terribly (I am self-taught in free-hand drawing and I have never took a drawing class). I didn't know of its existence until I saw a commercial about a new animated series called W.I.T.C.H. on the Jetix channel. At the time I didn't pay much attention to it because I was into "Digimon" ( and still am!). A few months later when it was mid-way through the airing of the first season, I got bored enough to watch an episode. At first, I thought that it was interesting and okay, but I wasn't entire hooked yet. A few weeks later after watching my first W.I.T.C.H. episode on television, my family took me and my younger brother to the nearby bookstore. There, I saw the American (slightly censored) version of the original comic series. At first, I thought that it was one of those silly comic adaptation from the animated series and didn't realized that it was actually the other way around until I did some research. I sat there in the bookstore reading the very first 6 issues compacted into 3 books and immediately saw how much of big difference it is from the animated series. I started to watch more episodes of the series, including the ones that I missed and I started to do some more research on its history. By then, I was officially hooked. I fell in love with its unique ways of story-telling and artistic style and I felt that there was a certain charm to it that I have never felt before.
After waiting months on end for the American released, I got impatient and went online instead. To my luck, I was able to find a gold mine of comic scans online and began to read those instead. After years of reading WITCH, I also began to notice the difference as it transitioned itself from one saga to the next. I noticed the changes in the art styles, then the story-telling, then the entire thing which, I admittedly think, is now crap (the changes, not the entire WITCH universe). What was once a magical experience, I find WITCH now somewhat tasteless and a shell of its former glory. There were some issues that I still think was good, while others were so terrible and childish that it makes me preferred its rival, Winx Club, more than itself (Yes, it's that bad). I am now very disappointed that WITCH isn't as great as it used to be, and I find myself criticizing some of its new issues even more. Some people might ask me, "If you don't like it, then why bother continuing to read it?" My only answer is because I can't find myself to hate it entirely. W.I.T.C.H. has been around for a while and I fell in love with it as a teenager. Although I do find that it lost most of its magical touch, there are still some moments which I thought was wonderful enough for me to continue reading.
After ten years, W.I.T.C.H. has changed greatly, but personally, I still find that it still has that certain amount of charm that I just couldn't discard easily. W.I.T.C.H. comics has been a great inspiration to me in more ways than one, and to this day I am grateful to it. After drawing countless works, I finally made a small switch to WITCH art style. Although not best at first (as I'm still learning) I suddenly find myself drawing my own W.I.T.C.H. fanart calendar series, started my very first fan-comic side story of C.H.Y.K.N. (WITCH's predecessors), and now I'm slowly developing my new idea for a full blown WITCH fan-saga (called WITCH: Dreams of Lusteria)!
Name: Galistar07water (or just galistar) Role: Guardian of Arts Age: 26 Race: Human Gender: Female Ethnicity: Vietnamese Religion: Buddhist Hobbies: Read, Write, Draw, and Study films Favorite Films: Too many to list Favorite Books: A lot, too much to list What I hate: the Twilight series and M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender Favorite Comic series: Disney's W.i.t.c.h. duh!
Current Residence: Southern California, United States of America Favorite music artists Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Adele, etc Favorite actor: Benedict Cumberbatch Favorite actress: Anne Hathaway Favorite genre of music: A lot of types, okay? Favorite style of art: Too many to list MP3 player of choice: Walkman (I don't like iPods) Favorite cartoon character: I have too many to list Personal Quote: If an artist's inspiration lacks uniqueness, then his work shall lack rareness.
Favorite visual artistUm...the crew who drew W.I.T.C.H. comic series!Favorite moviesInception, Batman: The Dark Knight, and a bunch of others that I won't bother to listFavorite TV showsAvatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, W.I.T.C.H., Winx Club, H2O: Just Add Water, Mako Mermaids, Code LyokoFavorite bands / musical artistsToo many to listFavorite writersJ.K. Rowling, James Moloney, Cornelia Funke, Alyson Noel, Mary Hoffman, Alison Croggon, and more...Favorite gamesAge of Mythology for PCOther InterestsDraw, Read, study films
Today, September 1st, marks the beginning of WWII when Germany Invaded Poland in 1939. However, the war technically began two years earlier on July 7th, 1937 when Japan invaded Manchuria. After the turning point for the Americans on Midway, Japan is slowly, but surely losing the war as it draws closer to their own doorsteps. In the waning days of the second Great War, Japan is being bombed with small, black, rod-liked objects with fiery tails. The structures of Japan's buildings and cities back then were still mostly made of and wood and traditional paper-screened doors. While traditional and beautiful, it does Japan and its people no good during these American air raids.
Two children are left homeless one day after such destructive bombings. The older brother, Seita (J. Robert Spencer) and his five-year-old sister, Setsuko (Rhoda Chrosite) are the focus of the film as they try to survive in a time deeply affected by the war. Buildings are destroyed and burnted after the firebombing attack, setting nearly everything, including their home, neighbors, and schools, to the ground. Their mother, (Veronica Taylor) died during the bombing. With their father away with the Japanese Navy, Seita and Setsuko moved in with a distant aunt (Amy Jones). Their aunt allows them to stay with her, but with food and supplies being severely rationed, she (rightfully) became resentful and openly remarks on their laziness. Tired of her nagging, the two decided to go off and live on their own in a nearby abandoned bomb shelter.
Seeing the setting of Graveyard of the Fireflies, we would think that this would be one of those films where the protagonists suffer through hardships during wartime and will eventually find success and happiness. However, this film is no such thing as it showed the death of Setsuko at the beginning of the film. After dying of starvation, Setsuko is reunited with the spirit of his deceased sister as the two ghosts looked back on how they got here. Striking out on their own, Setsuko does whatever he could to take care of his sister, but even with what little money that they have, food is scarce , forcing him to steal and take whatever he could get to keep them both alive. His pride and stubborn refusal to quit trying will ultimately seal both of their fates.
Graveyard of the Fireflies is perhaps one of the most emotional and realistically tragic film in not just Studio Gibli's history, but in animated film history as a whole. The setting and the story is depressing as it is powerful. When it was first released, it was accompanied by Hayao Miyazaki's more lighthearted My Neighbor Totoro as a double feature. WWII is a very sour topic for most Japanese citizens (even to this date), and it is unsurprising to see that this film turned away most of these audiences, due to its stark nature. Rather than the happy-ending summer fairy tale that is in My Neighbor Totoro, Graveyard of the Fireflies is a bolder film that shows us the reality of life for these two young children trying to survive wartime Japan. It's not shy to show the graphic and emotional scenes. While many critics and fans saw this as an anti-war film, in reality, Graveyard of the Fireflies focused more on the personal tragedies that war gave rise to upon these characters. It doesn't want to glamorize Setsuko's struggle to care for himself and his sister as heroic and honorable, but it shows us how its own society has failed to perform its most important duty to protect its own people.
We know for a fact that Japanese culture and society emphasized on the concept of honor and success. It was unthinkable to even consider complete surrender to the Americans as the war drew closer to an end. The kamikaze pilots were taught to die for their country on purpose, bringing themselves and their family great honor with their sacrifice. Many soldiers, generals, and citizens committed seppoku, rather dying with honor than to see the Americans succeed upon their doorsteps. Seita has this strong sense of pride and honor throughout the film. He's proud of his father's naval career and is most devastated upon the news of Japan's surrender than the news about his father's death. To him, failure is unthinkable not just in war but in his attempt to be care for his sister and be independent. Even when severe signs of malnutrition sets upon them both, Seita is still determined to try harder to make their independence work. His refusal to swallow his pride and going back to his aunt for help ultimately leads to his and Setsuko's death.
Graveyard of the Fireflies seemed to be teaching us that while it's okay to have a great sense of pride and honor in one's life, there is also a downside to it when it comes to your lives and the ones you cared for the most. Is there really shame to admit your defeat? Was it worth it to refuse to give up? War brought on many tragedies, but war is a part of life and it is up to society to do its duty to care and protect its people during such hardship. The death of these two children shows us how far society can fail and that it is still a reality to this date.
This film's director, Isao Takahata, is considered one of Studio Gibli's most popular director next to his friend and colleague, Hayao Miyazaki. While Graveyard of the Fireflies is his most serious film, it's also its own cinematic landmark. In truth, it was based on a novel by Nosaka Aikiyuki who did lived during wartime as a boy and his life was shadowed by guilt like Seita when his younger sister died of starvation. Another surprising factor is that this film doesn't focus on its animation as much in comparison with its other films before and later on, something that Studio Gibli is widely known for. While its artistic quality is still there, there is less details in the smaller things. In a sense, it's a good thing as it tries to focus more of its attention to its story and its grim messages. Anything detailed and glamorous in its animation would take away such thing.