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Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) (1988)

  Directed by: Isao Takahata
Written by: Akiyuki Nosaka, Isao Takahata
Starring: Ayano Shiraishi, Tsutomu Tatsumi
Links: Grave of the Fireflies on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Cartoon/Animation

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Got tissues?" - a review by pearly

Grave of the Fireflies is an unbelievably powerful film. It focuses on two young children, Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi), and his younger sister Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi). Living in Japan during World War 2, the children are effectively orphaned by the war, and Seita, a boy of 14, takes it upon himself to look after his 4 year old sister to the best of his ability. They travel to a small village where their aunt (Akemi Yamaguchi) lives, and take up residence there. But their aunt is unforgiving of their situation, and through a combination of stubbornness and circumstance, the children make a decision to try and make it on their own.

I saw the film about a month ago, and just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. It's extremely well made, and one of the most powerful and damning films about war that I have ever seen. The character of Setsuko (a similar little girl to Mei from My Neighbor Totoro (1988), but stuck in very different circumstances) will break your heart, and you'll be aching at the thought of some of the decisions made by her elder brother, who doesn't always do the best thing possible, but cannot be blamed, considering his young age.

Grave of the Fireflies is the type of film that transcends time, and will be a classic for the rest of eternity. It hasn't aged a day since it was made some 15 plus years ago, and even from the perspective of the animation, it still looks amazing. I find that giving a rating of 10 after watching a film for the first time is difficult to do, yet I really considered giving this film a 10. Instead, I'll go with a 9 for now, but don't be at all surprised if, when I get around to watching it again, the score goes up.

Be warned that after watching this film, you won't be able to get it out of your head, and your thoughts will not be happy ones. But despite this, Grave of the Fireflies is truly a must-see film.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 14 Apr 2005

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Reader comments

  1. Ah yes. Grave of the Fireflies is quite a masterpiece by Studio Ghibli. Sticking with their unique real-life drawing style ,rather than the "perfectionist" style of other anime, brings out the reality of WW2 and the destruction of their country.
    (okay no more otaku talk)
    doot doot i prefer grave of the fireflies over spirit away (another masterpiece). the storyline of fireflies is so moving T_T probably the second best anime movie ive seen. i recommend Hoshi No Koe (Voices of a Distant Star) if you enjoy watching anime movies. its drawn, written, voiced and directed by one guy, one mac and his wife.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from aishiteru on Thu 14 Apr 2005 17:44 #

  2. This is a beautiful movie that I picked up by chance as it drifted into the corner of my eye while I was heading out of a video store. The film portrayed war from a child's perspective, something that usually is not seen. I drew some similarities with The Pianist (Polanski) in that you can truly see the personal experiences of the directors of both movies coming through onto the screen. My absolute favourite animated movie and I'm glad to see it reviewed on this site.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from kim on Sat 16 Apr 2005 01:37 #

  3. The movie was so sad, it brought a lot of tears to my eyes ....

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Esther on Sat 07 May 2005 16:16 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (3 ratings)

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