Thursday, 14 August 2008


The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks at the end of World War II against the Empire of Japan by the United States at the order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman on August 6 and 9, 1945. After six months of intense firebombing of 67 other Japanese cities, the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, followed on August 9 by the detonation of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb over Nagasaki. These are to date the only attacks with nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.

The bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945, roughly half on the days of the bombings. Since then, thousands more have died from injuries or illness attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs. In both cities, the overwhelming majority of the dead were civilians.

Six days after the detonation over Nagasaki, on August 15, Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Powers, signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, officially ending the Pacific War and therefore World War II. (Germany had signed its Instrument of Surrender on May 7, ending the war in Europe.) The bombings led, in part, to post-war Japan adopting Three Non-Nuclear Principles, forbidding that nation from nuclear armament.


Isao Takahata

In the waning days of World War II, American bombers drop napalm canisters on Japanese cities, creating fire storms. These bombs, longer than a tin can but about as big around, fall to earth trailing cloth tails that flutter behind them; they are almost a beautiful sight. After they hit, there is a moment's silence, and then they detonate, spraying their surroundings with flames. In a Japanese residential neighborhood, made of flimsy wood and paper houses, there is no way to fight the fires.

"Grave of the Fireflies" (1988) is an animated film telling the story of two children from the port city of
Kobe. With the fall of the fire bombs, they become orphans and homeless. This film, based on ‘Hotaru no Haka’, the semi-autobiography by Akiyuki Nosaka, relates the tragedies of war as Seita and Setsuko struggle to survive with only each other to hold onto.


Isao Takahata is a long-time colleague of Miyazaki and a co-head of Studio Ghibli. Unlike Miyazaki, Takahata started his career as a director from the beginning. Born in 1935, he graduated from the most prestigious university in Japan, Tokyo University, and joined the newly founded animation studio Toei Doga in 1959.

He and Miyazaki became friends through the animators' union at Toei Doga, which he vice-chaired and Miyazaki chaired. His first movie, Horus: The Prince of the Sun (1968) is still considered one of the greatest examples of Japanese animation. Miyazaki worked as an animator for this movie, providing numerous ideas. Takahata and Miyazaki continued working as a director-animator team for many great animated masterpieces, including Lupin III, Heidi, 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, and Anne of Green Gables

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