Asahi Journal, August 5, 1988.
Translated from Japanese to English by Ryoko Toyama
Edited by Eric Henwood-Greer
Translated without permission for personal entertainment purpose only. This is not, by any means, an accurate word for word translation, and the translator is solely responsible for any mistranslation or misunderstanding due to it.
[This is from an article about books, and Miyazaki-san was reading a book called The Desert Monastery, which is about Coptic monks. Hence the reference to Coptic monks.]
Why didn't the two ghosts of the brother and sister who died from starvation meet the ghost of their mother? Did those two and the mother go to different worlds? If they had died even though they had wanted to live, and had their regrets left in this world, the two ghosts should look like they are starved, just as they were before they died. Why do they look as if there is nothing wrong with them physically?
Just as Coptic monks passed the Nile to the west after cutting off all the relationships they had in this world, those two went to another world while they were still alive. The underground shelter which the two had moved into was, as the monastery in the middle of the desert was, the grave which those two chose for themselves while they were still alive. Some pointed out the incompetence of the brother, but his will is firm. His will was, not to protect their lives, but to protect the innocence of his sister.
Their biggest tragedy is not that they lost their lives. It is that they don't have a heaven where their souls can go back to, as Coptic monks did. Or, it is that they can not become ashes and return to the earth, as their mother did. But those two remain there, just as they were in the moment of the happy michiyuki.
Is his sister like Mary (the Virgin) in the eyes of her brother? There is no longer pain in their world, which is now complete just with the bonds between the two siblings. They are floating, smiling to each other.
Grave of the Fireflies is not an antiwar movie. Nor is it a movie to appeal (to the audience) the importance of a life. I think it's a terrifying movie which depicted deaths without a place to return to.