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Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
"Hotaru no haka" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Animation, Drama, War  |  16 April 1988 (Japan)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 119,784 users  
Reviews: 489 user | 146 critic

A tragic film covering a young boy and his little sister's struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.



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Complete credited cast:
Tsutomu Tatsumi ...
Seita (voice)
Ayano Shiraishi ...
Setsuko (voice)
Yoshiko Shinohara ...
Mother (voice)
Akemi Yamaguchi ...
Aunt (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shannon Conley ...
Additional Voices (voice)
Doctors / Old Man (voice)
Dan Green ...
Additional Voices (voice)
Amy Jones ...
Aunt (voice)
George Leaver ...
Additional Voices (voice)
Setsuko (voice) (as Rhoda Chrosite)
J. Robert Spencer ...
Seita (voice)
Additional Voices (voice)
Veronica Taylor ...
Mother (voice)


Setsuko and Seita are brother and sister living in wartime Japan. After their mother is killed in an air raid they find a temporary home with relatives. Having quarreled with their aunt they leave the city and make their home in an abandoned shelter. While their soldier father's destiny is unknown, the two must depend on each other to somehow keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. When everything is in short supply, they gradually succumb to hunger and their only entertainment is the light of the fireflies. Written by Corrected by Liron

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

japan | wartime | shelter | food | boy | See All (253) »


Animation | Drama | War


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

16 April 1988 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Grave of the Fireflies  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (as Dolby Stereo) (theatrical print)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie was originally intended as a sort-of double feature with another Ghibli movie, My Neighbor Totoro (1988). Ghibli's parent company reasoned that Totoro's tie-in with a movie with more educational merit would guarantee its inclusion in the list of summer's recommended movies for school children. See more »


Right at the beginning, someone places what looks like a rice ball loosely wrapped in some tree bark as a protective cover next to the boy known as Seita. The scene cuts to Seita's face and soon after he collapses, the wrapped rice ball is nowhere to be seen. See more »


[first lines]
Seita: September 21, 1945... that was the night I died.
See more »


Home Sweet Home
Performed by Amelita Galli-Curci
Courtesy of RCA Victor Red Seal, a division of BMG Classics
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The best movie you'll never want to see again
26 August 2001 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I had the fortune of being able to see Hotaru no Haka on the big-screen in Seattle a couple of years ago. It was truly the high-point of my film festival excursions. At the end of the movie, there was silence, absolute and total silence in the theater - and then, only an occasional sniffle until the end credits had finished rolling and the house lights came up. It would've seemed almost disrespectful to profane the silence with words.

Seeing a movie like this really changes attitudes about war - about who really suffers, and that the honor and glory is shallow comfort when you contemplate what has been lost in the struggle.

I've made the comment to my friends that if you ever see someone who isn't moved (usually to tears) by this movie, you've found someone without a soul. As difficult as it is to watch, turn off the phone, dim the lights, and immerse yourself in the film with ones you love - you will be a better person for it in the end.

There are many other reviews of this movie, and most of them are probably far more comprehensive than my own - I'll conclude by saying that this movie should required viewing at some point (as should the peace museums at Hiroshima and Nagasaki) for everyone.

When you see war and conflict in the news or read about it in the paper, think back to this movie - your perspective will probably be broadened, and your eyes opened a bit more.

I've only watched this movie about 4 times - it usually takes a year or so to "decompress" after watching it. To see it too often would lessen the impact, and that would be the worst possible thing to do to this movie.

482 of 501 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Seita was not stupid nor selfish jenn4394
To me this movie is aweful merelientje
How many minutes did you cry? veeshman
Did anyone else feel this way days after watching it? thebedtimestory
Should I watch the English dubbed one billchat12
How much of this was real? no_doubt_rocks
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