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Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies
Actors: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Rhoda Chrosite
Director: Isao Takahata
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Anime & Manga, Military & War, Animation
UR     2004     1hr 29min

Isao Takahata's powerful antiwar film has been praised by critics wherever it has been screened around the world. When their mother is killed in the firebombing of Tokyo near the end of World War II, teenage Seita and his ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Rhoda Chrosite
Director: Isao Takahata
Creators: Nobuo Koyama, Isao Takahata, Takeshi Seyama, Ryoichi Sato, Tohru Hara, Akiyuki Nosaka
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Anime & Manga, Military & War, Animation
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, Anime & Manga, Military & War, Animation
Studio: Central Park Media Corporation (I) (II)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Animated
DVD Release Date: 12/07/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Japanese
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Member Movie Reviews

Miranda C. (redring) from LAPORTE, IN
Reviewed on 4/13/2008...
I really wasent impressed with this one. It was just sad. I like my anime to be a bit funny at least. This one is fallowing a train wreck of someones life untill they have nothing left to live for ...then they to die.
0 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Transcends Anime to be one of the saddest forms of any media
Ian Krupnick | Colorado Springs, Colorado United States | 01/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I generally don't cry at movies. I love any movie that can move me enough to shed a tear or two. Grave Of the Fireflies is not one of those movies. In those movies even though I'm sad the final scenes leave me with a residual hope that while some tragic event has just occured the charecters involved will grow and live better. Grave of the Fireflies doesn't do this. There is no hope or possiabilty of things getting better. This is Life at it's cruelest. Life that will never get better. This movie doesn't move you, it shatters you.Seita And Setsuko (the boy and His little sister) aren't Heros and their abusive aunt isn't the villian. Neither for that matter is either side of the war protrayed as good or bad in these movie. This is just a story of people being people. some kind, some indiffrent and some compleatly harsh. Seita makes mistakes that many children in his position would. Although fifteen years old this film is still very beatiful. The images it portrays are quiet and subdued yet elegent. The final scene is something that shall forever be burned into my brain. It's touching and heartwrenching finality should break most people.Well I love Grave of the Fireflies. I Love it for it's unflinching look at war and life, It's graceful bueaty as it portrays a young girl playing amidst Fireflies, and for what it does to me at the end.Why must fireflies die so young?"
Emotionally powerful, hauntingly poetic, anti-war anime
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 02/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Grave of the Fireflies" ("Hotaru no haka") is one of the most powerful anti-war films I have ever seen, which means that it has no competition when it comes to emotional impact in terms of animated films. The death of Bambi's mother was a traumatic shock, but nothing like the sense of despair and grief that overwhelms you by the end of this film. The film begins with the spirit of a young boy showing us his death in a train station, after which we follow the fireflies into the past to see his story. At the beginning of the original movie of "Brian's Song" we were told: "All true stories end in death. This is a true story." So is "Grave of the Fireflies" because I have no problem granting the legitimacy of "truth" to fiction.

In the last months of World War II an American fire bomb raid destroys the port city of Kobe, where almost all of the buildings are made of wood. Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi/J. Robert Spencer) is a 14-year old boy who survives along with his 4-year old sister Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi/Rhoda Chrosite). They were separated from their mother during the raid, which spares them from her fate. Their father is a navy officer serving in the Imperial Navy at sea, and the two kids go off to live with an aunt. With both his school and the war factory where we worked gone, Seita does not know what to do. So he tries to take care of his sister. But his aunt constantly berates him and after trading his mother's kimonos for rice that she stingly shares with the children, Seita decides to take Setsuko and live in a couple of caves dug for bomb shelters. For a while their live remains idyllic, but then there is nothing left to trade for food, and no food to be bought for money. Seita has to steal food to survive while Setsuko is getting weaker and weaker from hunger.

This film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel written by Akiyuki Nosaka, which won the Naoli Prize, the Japanese equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. Like Seita, he survived the fire bombing with a younger sister, who died in his care. Obviously the story stems from a sense of guilty and I believe telling this story was confessional rather than cathartic for Nosaka. Writer-director Isao Takahata turns this tragedy into what can only be described as a poetic experience, achieving a cinematic lyricism that could never have been accomplished in a live-action film (e.g., the way the fireflies have a counterpoint in the pieces of ash that drift on the wind after the fire bombings). There is a quietness to this film, a sense of contemplation that emphasizes important and small moments alike, and makes scenes linger as the heart-rending story plays out to its fatal conclusion. The voice work by both of the young girls playing Setsuko is extremely effective; I have a slight preference for that done by Ayano Shiriashi simply because it is much more naturalistic than what you usually find in anime depicting children.

"Graves of the Fireflies" is an unforgettable film, one which will reduce most viewers to tears if not outright sobbing. Watching it is a painful experience, but then a film depicting the horrors of war and showing what happens to young children is supposed to have that effect. Viewing it a second time makes the experience even more intense (you probably will not catch what Setsuko's last words are the first time through, but be prepared for what it will do to you when you watch the film again). You will never, ever forget this film and you should be very, very careful about showing it to younger children, because it will change forever what they think about animated films. It will do that for you as well."
Profound look at the other casualties of war
David J. Huber | New York, NY United States | 09/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First off, to get this out of the way, you should be watching this movie so you can know how beautiful and incredible animation can be - this is a visually gorgeous and lush movie.Beyond the animation, Grave of the Fireflies is truly in the top of perfectly written scripts. The subject matter of the film is war and death, but specifically how war affects the innocents. This is Japan in the end months of WWII during the firebombings, when food was scarce, and children without parents were left to die.This story is incredibly sad, but so important to hear and see it - not like a mainstream Hollywood sad movie that might make you cry while watching, but otherwise has no power to alter your perceptions of life. This is truly sad - the young kids die, and they die very horribly - sickness and starvation. The whole process is so well-written, you'll feel the hunger and the sickness yourself, and the animation adds to the effect.It is so welcome to have a movie that doesn't turn out all right in the end, but turns out awfully darn depressing, because a lot of times, life just plain sucks and isn't fair, if not for me, then for many other people. It is good to remember that not everything always turns out okay, and nothing is wrong in showing this realistically in a movie. Would I show this to young kids? Hell yes - I think young kids would identify very strongly. And if we can get our young kids to see the ridiculous nature of war at an early age, mayhaps we shall finally have a generation that doesn't feel a need to kill each other over irrelevant philosophic, racial, genetic, geographic, etc., BS.This movie and the story has not left my mind since I saw it - a point of proof that this is an incredible movie. But do be prepared to feel amazingly sad. I saw this movie in the winter. Then about 5 months later, in the summer, when I saw my first fireflies of the year, I was overcome with an incredible sadness. That's how powerful this movie is.I will be using this with my youth groups, probably for many years. It has so much worthy of deconstructing and analyzing - this is truly artwork, for it does all things that art is supposed to do - it has the power to change you, and the power to not let you forget the story. Excellent all the way around! And make sure to get one that is letterboxed, to get the whole movie (why are movies even released without being letterboxed? People are stupid...). And get a copy that is in Japanese with subtitles (unless, of course, you speak Japanese). You really, really have to hear the original Japanese, and the original actors. Amazing movie. A billion stars."