In 1988, Studio Ghibli released My Neighbour Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies as a double feature. The Hayao Miyazaki film follows the adventures of two sisters with a mysterious fuzzy friend, while Isao Takahata’s film dealt with two siblings experiencing the horrors of war.
At first look, the movies could not be more different. Both, however, deal with children overcoming hardship: in Totoro, the two girls’ mother is in the hospital, while in Grave of the Fireflies, the hardships are much more grim and relentless. Yet, these movies certainly are companion pieces.
As Twitter user Kaba-san points out, when you stop each movie at the same time, several scenes seem to resemble each other. These similarities are really quite remarkable.
Have a look:
— 樺さん。 (@22_crychris) August 14, 2020
Even the iconic image of each older sibling carrying their young one while holding an umbrella is a visual echo.
In other ways, the movies are complete opposites. Totoro is, of course, set after World War II, while Grave of the Fireflies is set at the end of it. You and your kids might want to watch Totoro over and over again, and a single viewing of Grave of the Fireflies might be enough for many viewers — unless you enjoy feeling really, really sad.