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Japanese war films typically frame themselves as anti-war, even when they glorify the sacrifices made by brave Japanese boys in defense of the homeland, as in the 2013 hit “Eien no Zero” (“The Eternal Zero”).

Kon Ichikawa’s 1959 war film “Nobi” (“Fires on the Plain”) is a rare local example that totally rejects this sort of soft nationalism. Based on Shohei Ooka’s semi-autobiographical novel about Japanese soldiers in the Philippines during the desperate last days of World War II, the film spoke the truth as starkly as the era would permit.

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