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Grave of the Fireflies

Alternate title : Hotaru no Haka

Studio : Studio Ghibli

Licenced by : Central Park Media

Length : 1 Movie

Year : 1988

Genre : Drama - Historical - Slice of Life

Synopsis :
In the midst of World War II, the unbelievable has happened! The Japanese homeland comes under attack. Rushing into shelters, Seita and his sister emerges out alive only to find themselves having to shelter with their aunt.

Seita hides the death of their sick mother from his little sister, holding out on the hope that their naval officer father would come back for them once the war is over.

This is the sad story of their struggles as two kids living under the stresses of war.

Added : 2002-08-15
Synopsis by : Yebyosh
Last update : 2017-07-20
Last update details : Modifyinfo
Score : 8.94 Ranked #36 by users
Number of reviews : 47

Link(s) :

Other #1 : Grave of the Fireflies: A Teacher's Guide Fansite (English)
Other #2 : Team Ghiblink's Grave of the Fireflies Fansite (English)
Other #3 : Untitled Hotaru - A Grave of the Fireflies Fansite (English)
Other #4 : Wingsee's Grave of the Fireflies Fansite (English)

Song(s) :

OP1 : Michio Mamiya - Setsuko and Seita

ED1 : Michio Mamiya - Futari

Release(s) :

2017-07-20 -- Episode(s) 0 by Prof. BT Link
2012-12-19 -- Episode(s) 0 by Doki. BT Link
2012-12-19 -- Episode(s) 0 by Doki. BT Link

Found 6 releases. Click here to [ Find them! ]

Hits : 64093

Seiyuu [View Complete Seiyuu Data]

Hara, Toru

Original Work
Nosaka, Akiyuki

Character Design
Kondo, Yoshifumi,

 Seita Setsuko

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Currently displaying last 15 reviews.
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Posted by : Terentius
Posted on : 2009-10-04        

I had been watching some documentaries recently on the History Channel that had focused on the atrocities of the Second World War. Almost immediately I had started thinking about this incredibly tragic tale.

The animation as always is of the highest standard. In spite of its 20 plus years of age, it still has the hallmarks of a Ghibli production. Namely highly detailed backgrounds and immersive foregrounds with a colour palette that is excellently balanced for the given environment and scenes. The character designs here never deviated away from realistic proportions. The animation is still very appealing after all these years.

Incredibly heart-breaking story was the core of this movie. I read in an Empire Film Magazine about 2-3 years ago that Grave of the Fireflies ranks as one of the top 100 on-screen tragedies in movie history. As a warning, be prepared for sadness, despair and tears. What starts off innocently enough becomes an almost futile attempt at survival involving an elder brother caring for his younger sister. I was close to tears after watching it. The emotional torment I saw still resonates within me after all these years.

It has been such a long time since I have seen such a loving relationship captured as realistically (and poignantly) as the sibling love evident in this movie. Equally inspiring and tormenting to watch this remains one of entertainments (not just anime's) greatest portrayal of familial love. High praise indeed.

As always the music never outdoes the key visual elements of any Ghibli movie. As always it remains synergistic and in keeping with the emotional scenes on screen. The voice acting was heartfelt and irrespective of the additional languages this movie was available in, I would always recommend that the original Japanese dub be used due to the excellent performances of the two main cast members.

I have only watched this movie twice over the past 21 years. It was once too many. Not for any malicious reason other than it reminded me so much of the horrors of war. Grave of the Fireflies is to anime what Schindler's List is to Hollywood. Both are emotionally epic movies. Both have made an indelible mark on my psyche. Equally as important both will never be forgotten by me as long as I live. The reason I have not awarded the perfect 5 stars is simple. I hope for my emotional state that I never see a movie/story like this again. If I do, then the world truly is a terrible place to be in.

Posted by : Himitsu
Posted on : 2009-02-02        

A sad yet powerful movie of two kids struggling the wraths of the war. Watching this movie urged me to learn even more about WWII, specifically Japan's take of it. This truly was the fight for survival. Setsuko and Seita go against bombings, starvation, and family tragedy. This is no feel-good movie.

There are many events with influential elements. A lot of the scenes conveyed overwhelming messages. This is "harsh reality". No one is covering your eyes from it. Things are bare and real. There are so many powerful scenes, where I can't mention just one. I was saddened to see Seita risk the bomb warnings to gather resources for survival; sickened to see the close up of Setsuko's rashy back; and distressed to see Setsuko's delusions.

Neat how they arranged for the seiyuu to be the same age for the characters they were voicing for. The animation, considering the age, was super! Studio Ghibli went for realism here. The messages were taken seriously. I didn't like the bug parts though. I think they played some great pieces for the music. It was famous works. Unfortunately, in my opinion, I don't think they were used at full advantage. They were played during breaks as opposed to the more dramatic parts. The music did bring in the right mood though.

The main complaint I have is that there seems to be no unique characterization for either of the two main characters. They are the stencil of their age group. Also, the film wasn't very enjoyable. I mention again, and again about the powerful messages, but they do not educate, only distress. Lastly, the background story (the war) was only looked at at a tiny perspective which was also one-sided.

Posted by : miestersean
Posted on : 2008-12-25        

I learned from Wikipedia that the author of the novel this film is based on wrote his book as an apology to his younger sister. From what I saw in the movie, he probably only had a desire to vent this feeling and had no actual message to convey, because the film has no distinct emotions like hope or anger that drive it. Instead, it is a constant mire of regret and sadness, making for a pointless film. Why watch two kids suffer when there’s nothing redeeming in it?

Everything wrong with this film stems from the plot. The characters are viewed externally, possibly because the author didn’t want to write about everything too intimately, and, not experiencing the tragic events firsthand, you don’t get impressions from what happens. And though the art is fine for the backgrounds and inanimate objects, the static character design causes the faces to be devoid of expression, further contributing to the lifeless nature of the movie.

Posted by : Nicta
Posted on : 2008-01-23        

Not for the faint of heart. I managed to get all the way through this one, but I was bawling my eyes out for the poor little ones. If you have a soft spot for children, you may want to look elsewhere.

If, however, you can make it through, it's a very thought-provoking story. It is a story of loss, a story of striving... in the end, a story of self-defeat as innocence is lost in WWII era Japan. The fireflies themself double as symbols of the frailty of human life--transience, and of the little Setsuko.

Life is so short and so fragile, and sometimes surviving is just too much even with the best of efforts.

One thing to note while watching: Setsuko's lips are not seen often. This is because the producers felt the child playing Setsuko was too young and recorded her lines before doing the animation, which the animators were not used to working with.

Posted by : Fission2
Posted on : 2007-11-16        

Grave of the Fireflies may be one of the greatest anime productions ever. From an objective perspective, this not only tells a compelling, heart-wrenching story with an important message but also provides stunning workmanship. In terms of emotional evocation, this film was a success because of the realistic scenario combined with a great performance by the cast.

The message portrayed in the film was difficult to accept, but is important nonetheless. I think what people tend to forget the most, or find the most difficult to accept would be the fact that when people suffer, it doesn't make it any more right if it was done to your country or to your enemy's. The main concept of this film was to illustrate this point and it depressed people. Not surprisingly, this film is sometimes criticized for spreading propaganda, but the fact remains that many children suffered and died as result of this war - regardless of nationality.

This film is available in an slur in a variety of languages but one of the consistencies of this film, regardless of language, would be the intrinsic beauty of the backgrounds. Although the animation is not comparable with modern day, the level of detail and work earns itself a reputation for being timeless.

Highly recommended.

Posted by : SgtWolfZero
Posted on : 2007-07-21        

This is a really sad and touching story about two siblings trying to survive during world war II. I gotta say that this is a must see for anime fans(if you haven't seen it go see it now!).

Although I gotta warn you there really isn't any action or something out of the ordinary. And some people might not want to sit and watch a movie that's like a novel. But if you love to hear touching stories and maybe like watching war-related movies then you've found the right anime to watch.

Also if you like this movie you might want to check out some of the other movies this director made. They all have very good stories

Posted by : misomisc
Posted on : 2007-06-20        

What a terribly sad and touching story. Grave of the Fireflies follows the lives of two war orphans in WWII Japan. It is a very real and frightening look at the suffering inflicted on the weakest and most innocent members of a society at war. There are no martial arts, no epic battles. This is pure drama, and done very well. I’m not someone who gets easily broken up by movies, but this one made me cry. The hardships these children endure, the love they have for each other and the way they end up are all totally heartbreaking.
The art is high quality though not the best ever. You can tell this was done in the late ‘80s, but the animators clearly loved this project and treated it with care and detail. The voice acting and sound are well done. Overall the production is very good, but honestly even if it were awful the story would still make this a beautiful film.
If you want something mindless and exciting this isn’t the Anime to watch. But if you like stories with real feeling and character I would recommend it highly.

Posted by : anishell
Posted on : 2007-05-04        

This movie makes me cry every time I see it because it's so beautiful and so sad in every way. Yes this movie revolves around WWII but this is not like those war movies with war zones like "Pearl Harbor" or "Saving Private Ryan". It's about a boy and his sister who had struggle on living after their parents died during the war. But there are many touching moments in the movie that warms my heart. It's truly something worth to watch!

Story: 9 - Like I said, the story is just so beautiful and sublime and I think the pacing of the movie is quite right.
Music: 9 - The music is quit nice and fits nicely with the sad theme of the movie. After I watched the movie, I found myself humming the theme song every now and then.
Visual: 10 - The animation is superb. The animators must have really tortured themselves from making this movie.
Character: 10 - The relationship between the boy and his sister is very beautiful especially in their hardships, and it gives you such a sublime feeling.

Posted by : NatureDragon
Posted on : 2007-04-12        

The storyline basically revolve around WWII and focuses on the part when Japan was losing the war. It showed us how pitiful Japan was as it was heavily bombed. It did made me kind of sad when they show how the japanese suffered. However, the whole just focuses on this point which makes this a propaganda to make us empathise the hardship faced by the japanese during WWII and to sympathise them.This thus brought down the score for storyline.

Quite ok for a 1988 anime movie. The background colours used were dull most of the time to show the saddness of the movie.

Overall: 3/10
I do not like this anime movie because it is merely a propaganda towards bringing us to sympathise the japanese only. It did not show the sufferings that happened due to Japan's invasion on other countries. This movie thus did not fit my liking as it made Japan look like the only victim in WWII.

Posted by : holyflame2
Posted on : 2007-04-09        

Storyline: 10
Truly wonderful war epic. No, it's not like you think. It's more like life during war. It chronicles the people at home, not the people at war. I was not sure I would like it when I heard of it on the 'net, but now I totally understand what those guys were talking about. Hey, I just learned something. Doesn't this look like a screen from Pong? ' I .,

Type: Drama
I think that's the first time I used this genre.

Sexuality: 0
Nada. If you're a hentai otaku, please, please don't look here... unless you're thinking about coming back to the side of light.

Romance: 0
Nada. What? That's it.

Drama: 10
Oh... my... Gawd. Heh. I remember swearing a long time ago that I would never cry at a movie ever, no matter how sad it was meant to be. In fact, it turned out easier than I thought; I totally cracked up when I watched Titanic. But this movie... damn, it went the farthest any movie ever did. Three tears. That is really saying something.

Action: 5
We see the bombing of cities. And, uh, we see some very disturbing scenes. That really got me sad. The even sadder part was that I was getting angry at the people bombing these cities, but those people were the Americans, since, you should know, Japan and America were enemies during World War II.

Comedy: 2
There were some funny moments. It's kinda odd how these kids managed to have fun during wartime, and what they had to deal with was so horrible, I wouldn't even wish it unless it was against my worst enemy. Yeah, that's no typo.

Dub not seen

What a sad, sad story. Huh? Oh, sorry, I was just watching VH1. Um... lessee... where are my notes. Oh, that's right, I never made notes. I guess that's why I always forget these names. I hope I can remember... Nope. Shame, too. This was truly a masterpiece. One of the greatest animation movies ever. Hell, one of the greatest movies ever.

Posted by : glouche88
Posted on : 2007-02-02        

I’ve never seen a more tragically beautiful story.

Story 10: Unbelievable tale of what kind of things actually happened to some of the poor class people during the war. Emotionally and historically mastered.

Characters 10: A brother and his little sister must survive harsh times and change with the times. We see all sides of their characters and how far they will go to help each other.

Visuals 9: An older style, but used well to represent an older Japan and present an emotional story.

Music 9: Matching the mood of the film for its sensitive moments. And also uses quiet often for a strong emphasis on their environments.

Overall 10: Epic in it’s story telling! This is a must see if you can handle intense emotions. It is masterpiece in historical fiction.

Posted by : TheLoneBrit101
Posted on : 2007-01-06        

After having become accustomed to the style of other Studio Ghibli films, Grave of the Fireflies came as a huge shock and impacted me greatly.

The animation was much more grittier and down to earth than the Studio's previous works, which made the film more serious. Unlike 'Spirited Away' and other Ghibli works, when the protagonists cry, they don't gush out large blobs of water from their eyes; they're more refined, looking much more like real tears, bringing emphasis to the act and in doing so, makes it more effective in affecting the audience's own tear ducts.

The music was a masterpiece - keeping in line perfectly with the animation, and effectively setting the mood, so that you knew exactly when to reach for a tissue, or as the case could be, to laugh in joy as the two siblings chased each other on the beach.

The plot was like a deliberate excuse to make people depressed and cry. Not that it was bad, it was inspiring....but for someone like my mother, who prefers to see happy endings, this would have been the worst film ever, due to its depressive nature.

Overall - a masterpiece, definitely something to go down in the books, but not something you'd watch a second time in a hurry.

Posted by : Molenir
Posted on : 2006-12-17        

There are many shows that when you watch them, you feel sad, for the characters, and the situations they are in. There are shows that you cry when you watch them, and feel touched by their depth. Many of these shows can be watched over and over again. This is not one of those shows.

It is a story in which a brother and his little sister are trying to survive in the midst of WW2 Japan. A world at war and all around them their world is being destroyed as they struggle to survive. While I don't want to give away either the ending, or details on the story, it is simply so sad and heartbreaking that you cannot watch it more then once.

The artwork and the music are excellent. There are moments of humor and emotion between the brother and sister that bring you closer to the characters. But the plot and conclusion are simply too hard to see.

I hate shows like this. Getting us to empathize and love the characters and then destroying them. I cannot reccomend this movie.

Posted by : arsetothem
Posted on : 2006-11-24        

One of the most remembered animation all this years, from the GHIBLI STUDIOS, born a heart warming story of two siblings surviving the chaos of war's after-math.
I've created this review, as a true fan of GHIBLI STUDIO animations and a fan of japanese animation.

GRAPHICS:(8) the graphics are drawn in classical style, which is using lots of pages just to move a few seconds. At that time, no high-tech gadgets were available. So, which means at that time, this animation was the top of the crop. In addition, the design of the characters are very nostalgic, it has a different vibe than the other anime's.It's pretty much based on reality.
SOUNDS:(7) not much i can say about the sounds, there's nothing special about that. BUT the voices are the best, it really suits the identity of the character. also the music is always a marvel, the GHIBLI STUDIO'S music are always a heart-felt memories, once you heard it, it will be scared to your heart and mind.
STORY:(7) i will confess that im not a fan of depressing stories, but when i saw this anime, i'll make an exception. you'll be crying once your through with this, your heart will be torn apart from the harsh life they experience. you will surely want to go there and save them. but sadly, not all in anime's are happy endings.
CHARACTERS: (8) AMAZING...period. as simple as that, there is nothing special, but all about reality. from a pride driven boy to the cute innocent girl.

This is one the greatest anime that is worth watching all time, they should put in school as an example of the CHAOS of war, the stories of LIFE and the light of HOPE...

Posted by : Faebinder
Posted on : 2006-11-12        

Somewhere deep inside, I feel like this anime has touched a dark hidden part of my life and I sense that it can do the same to others. The story is very serious, mature and tragic.

Animation: 8/10. Subpar in the sense that it's old and it's classically drawn. There are no fluid motions or anything that spectacular to this aspect of the anime.

Music: 9/10. Great ending and powerful intra-movie episode. The music is very moving.

Story: 10/10. Phenomenal story and the sad part about it is that it's true from my understanding. This tragedy is strong, emotional, effective and well done. No hidden plots here and the ending is unexpected for those who didn't see previews.

Character Design: 10/10. What can you saw about an animation based on real characters. Excellent job putting the characters together. The character style was not unique but was effective enough to display the characteristics necessary in this story.

Very moving.... very sad.... you might cry...

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