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Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Hotaru no haka (original title)
Unrated | | Animation, Drama, War | 16 April 1988 (Japan)
A young boy and his little sister struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.

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Writers:

(novel),
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tsutomu Tatsumi ...
Seita (voice)
Ayano Shiraishi ...
Setsuko (voice)
Yoshiko Shinohara ...
Mother (voice)
Akemi Yamaguchi ...
Aunt (voice)
Tadashi Nakamura ...
(voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marcy Bannor ...
Aunt (Sentai Filmworks dub) (voice)
...
Mother (Sentai Filmworks dub) (voice)
...
Additional Voices (Sentai Filmworks dub) (voice)
Shannon Conley ...
Additional Voices (Central Park Media dub) (voice)
Justin Doran ...
Additional Voices (Sentai Filmworks dub) (voice)
...
Doctors / Old Man (Central Park Media dub) (voice)
Adam Gibbs ...
Dan Green ...
Additional Voices (Central Park Media dub) (voice)
Amy Jones ...
Aunt (Central Park Media dub) (voice)
Susan O. Koozin ...
Additional Voices (Sentai Filmworks dub) (voice) (as Susan Koozin)
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Storyline

The story of Seita and Satsuko, two young Japanese siblings, living in the declining days of World War II. When an American firebombing separates the two children from their parents, the two siblings must rely completely on one another while they struggle to fight for their survival. Written by Kyle Perez

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Animation | Drama | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 April 1988 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Grave of the Fireflies  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,700,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (as Dolby Stereo) (theatrical print)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Most of the illustration outlines in the film are in brown, instead of the customary black. Whenever black was used, it was only used when it was absolutely necessary. Color coordinator Michiyo Yasuda said this was done to give the film a softer feel. Yasuda said that until that point it had never been used in an anime before, "and it was done on a challenge." Yasuda explained that brown is more difficult to use than black because it does not contrast as well as black. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Gunkan kôshinkyoku
(Warship March)
Written by Tôkichi Setoguchi
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A powerful film that shows the true cost of war
28 August 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Grave of the Fireflies" is one of the most ambitious, depressing, and quite frankly, best films that I've ever seen. I was nearly moved to tears by this film's brave treatment of such critical subject matter. Yes, it's an Anime' piece, but surprisingly, it came out in 1988, during a time where most Japanese animation films were either relentless bloodbaths, borderline pornography, or both.

As a fan of the Anime' genre of film-making, many great pieces have achieved some sort of cult status here in America, yet none have really reached mainstream success. Some have broken through the barrier and have gained acceptance with American critics, like Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira," or "Princess Mononoke," or "Spirited Away" (both films directed by Hayao Miyazaki). One that I've seen and has been barely mentioned by most critics is "Grave of the Fireflies."

What we have with "Grave of the Fireflies," is a story of innocence lost and two children who ultimately face a losing battle with trying to survive in a small Japanese village in the closing days of World War II. WWII was the costliest conflict in world history, with millions dead and thousands left to pick up the pieces.

In the center of it, are the aforementioned two children, who are pretty much left to fend for themselves after their mother is killed in a bombing raid. Because their father is off fighting in the war and they have no way of contacting any other family, they're sent to live with their aunt, who is at first warm and welcoming to them, but eventually becomes very cruel and the children are forced to live in a nearby bomb shelter. From that point on, the two children embark on a journey that is every bit as unpleasant and difficult as the grim realities of the world around them.

Very easily one of the best Anime' films that I've ever seen (or any animated film for that matter), I find it difficult to believe just how truly overlooked "Grave of the Fireflies" is. The animation is beautiful, though certainly not dated by any means (even though Japanese animation has progressed well since this film was made).

We get a sense of the dread of the two lead characters, who watch as the world around them crumbles into heaps of ashes, and aircraft loom ominously overhead, dropping their deadly, incendiary cargo on unsuspecting Japanese villagers.

The director, Isao Takahata, obviously has a special resentment of the war, but manages to avoid condemning it outright. The director instead lets us focus in on the conflict as seen through the eyes of the two children, who watch unflinchingly as the realities of their world begin to falter before them.

"Grave of the Fireflies" is a bold statement on the condition of the human soul during conflict. I probably shouldn't say this but I am anyways, but this film has to be the "Schindler's List" of animated pieces. It's brave, it's not overly sentimental, but it is relentless in its dramatization of a dangerous reality. It should be required viewing in any high school world history class.

A beautiful film; not to be missed by anyone.


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