We swung out to Paul's Tobacco Company - a wonderful place if you've got the habit, and it's one we share. He picked up a few things, and I... well, I was a bad boy. Picked up a humidor-sized box of my favorite brand/size: La Finca Grandes. Delicious cigars in the classic "chair leg" size... well, perhaps not quite that large, but probably an hour's smoke apiece. I also grabbed a couple of tins of some rather good pipe tobacco - the nice thing about the tins is that, as long as the seal remains unbroken, the tobacco will stay fresh. After that, we went to lunch at La Fogata, a pleasant little Mexican restaurant in that same area.
After lunch, we went to the local game store - I've been rather out of touch down there in the last couple of months, so I had a few things to catch up on. Then, we went to the local grocery store so I could do something I've been meaning to do for a while - introduce Beau to my favorite brand of port, Benjamin's. (Hey, a good, sweet ruby port at $10 per bottle? This is good stuff!) Afterwards, we headed back to his place to sample the port and to watch anime - we'd already seen the first half of Generator Gawl, so we watched the second half and smoked a cigar each on the back deck.
Not wanting to start a new anime series just at that point (I had also fetched along both of the Bubblegum Crisis series), we made a quick run to Blockbuster, where we managed to find a couple of movies which piqued the interests of the pair of us.
The first, Sin, was a really great action/adventure anime based on the PC game from a few years back. Straightforward plot, with some really strong leading character and some good music for accompaniment. It's some beautiful work, and it fits in with the anime style so well that it surprises me a little that it's actually an American production - one of the few that's so true to the genre that it's done well in Japan as well as over here.
The second movie, though... wow. It's one that I've heard about several times over the last year, but for one reason or another, I've never watched it before. It's name? The Grave of the Fireflies.
Those of you who read my LJ when I manage to update it might remember my reaction to another anime by the name of Metropolis. Well, Grave of the Fireflies is another one in that same category - incredibly powerful and moving, to the point where I found myself sniffling - and, to be honest, holding back from open tears by an effort of will that still surprises me. It's the story of a young boy, Seta, in World War II-era Japan, the son of a Japanese Naval officer. When his mother is horrificly injured, later dying of her wounds, in an air raid, he's left as the primary caretaker for his four-year-old sister Sachiko in the home of his father's sister, a woman who doesn't approve of the fact that he spends his time caring for the girl rather than working for the war effort or going to school. Eventually, they leave their aunt's home, making a place for themselves in an isolated bomb shelter and enduring more and more difficulties as the war drags onward. In the end, it becomes a tragedy in the classic sense: the young boy finds himself totally alone in the world, having to perform his sister's funeral rites alone after learning of the Japanese Navy's complete destruction and his father's presumed death.
I will, at some point, be purchasing this movie... though it will be quite some time before I can bear to once more watch it. As I said, it's a very powerful movie, one which takes hold of the viewer's emotions and plays them skillfully. It pulls you in, makes you feel for the characters and understand what drives them. It starkly illustrates the tragedy an entire generation of Japanese children grew up facing, and it speaks to anyone with even an ounce of human compassion and feeling.