UNICEF reports that children bear the brunt of war, with many suffering mental stress which could last a lifetime. Although children are the subjects of many forms of abuse, these kinds of physical and psychological violence pale in comparison to what children have to endure during times of conflict. Here’s a list of war anime series and films that show the struggle that children go through in the midst of a battle.
One of the horrors that some children have to endure is to fight in government forces and armed opposition groups. These kids are forced to be on the front lines, take part in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. One anime that depicts such horrible actions is Jormungand. The main protagonist Jonah – a child soldier – has no choice but to act as a bodyguard to an international arms dealer.
The Diary of Anne Frank
Anne Frank is one of many children that experienced the horrors of WWII. She documented her life in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Consequently, many found inspirations in her writing, as a result, several anime adaptations of The Diary of Anne Frank – the title of her book is “The Diary of a Young Girl” – were produced. The first adaptation Anne’s Diary: The Story of Anne Frank was released on Sept. 28, 1979 and was produced by Nippon Animation. The second adaptation, The Diary of Anne Frank became available on Aug. 19, 1995 and was produced by Madhouse.
Now and Then, Here and There
The story follows Shu, an optimistic and determined young boy whom one day sees a mysterious girl up on a smokestack. Soon after meeting her he gets swept into a strange desert world. Shu soon discovers the true terrors of war, such as genocide, torture, hunger, thirst, and child exploitation. It is up to him to save this mysterious girl, as well as his new friends from a senseless and cruel dictator.
Another war anime exploring the trauma that children go through is Barefoot Gen. The film is loosely based on writer Keiji Nakazawa’s own experiences as a Hiroshima survivor. In the summer of 1945, the city of Hiroshima has been strangely spared from enemy bombings. Although the city has escaped the bombings, its citizens and Gen’s family are suffering from severe malnutrition. However, little do they know that the lovely city that they call home will soon no longer exist.
Grave of the Fireflies
One of the most acclaimed war anime of all time, Grave of the Fireflies, is based on author Akiyuki Nosaka’s experience before, during, and after the bombing of Kobe, Japan in 1945. The movie tells the story of fourteen-year-old Seita and his little sister Setsuko and their struggle to survive in Kobe during the final months of WWII.