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

WARNING! Extremely touching emotionally!!! 


5 out of 5 stars This movie will change you, if you dare so., September 3, 2001
Reviewer: greencalx (see more about me) from Valencia, CA USA
No other movie (except for David Lynch's "The Straight Story", which I also recommend) has exemplified the importance of love for other people through a powerfully sad story. If I explained any of the specifics to what I'm saying, it will give away spoilers -- that wouldn't matter anyway, the true importance and redemption of Grave Of The Fireflies lies in it's mood and characters' struggles, and those will leave most viewers a changed person.

One of the greatest movies ever made. Not only do I respect the art of film greatly more than I used to, but I also hold precious my loved ones even more. For those of you reading these reviews but have yet to see this movie, I have 3 bits of advice:

1) It is anime -- do not hold prejudice against this movie because of it. This is one of the most emotionally-gripping movies I've seen, and it's rare that I cry because of a movie, let alone from start to finish with this movie.

2) It is drama -- but it is real, and visceral. It is NOT the crappy, low-budget melodrama you'd see on some womens' channel ("Timmy has cancer and his mother's in jail and he wants to see Babe Ruth hit a home run or else Lassie will die of a tumor!"). NO! "Grave of the Fireflies" is what drama was meant to be, I cannot find a negative thing about this movie [except that it made me cry out loud in a room full of people, quite embarassing if you ask me]. It is well written and emotional, and in true Japanese style it uses subtle, quiet, and subdued moments to speak the loudest moods.

and most importantly, 
3) PREPARE YOURSELF. Before you watch this movie, get a comedy video (Monty Python or whatever) on your coffeetable to pop in after you clear your tear ducts when this movie is over. Grave of the Fireflies will stay with you, it will hang on your shoulders and you will remember it the next morning and throughout the next several weeks. So get something happy or whimsical prepared to watch immediately afterwards to help get out of the depression that Grave of the Fireflies is guaranteed to put you in.

Experience this film. --This text refers to the DVD edition.

5 out of 5 stars omg the saddest movie I've ever seen in my life, July 30, 2002
Reviewer: monkeys_and_anime (see more about me) from Euclid, Oh United States
This is a traumatizing movie. I can't explain in words how you feel as you're watching it. For one thing it's not one of those movies that are sad, maybe cause you to shed a tear or two, but you realize "it's just a movie". This is not just a movie. It is possibly one of the greatest films of all time depicting war. A war that really happened with people that really suffered in it.

It begins with the two children escaping to a bomb shelter during an air raid...

Despite the painfully sad story, it's still wonderful. Yet it's hard to say this when you know that it is about two children suffering. It makes me feel like I'm saying I like that sort of thing, which I don't. Nonetheless, this is a anime everyone should see. I don't even mean just anime fans, it's something mankind should see to help them think twice about things like war.

Ok and now to get to the part I was avoiding so much. I did not just cry when I saw Grave of the Fireflies. I was bawling. From beginning to end there was something that completely just ripped my heart in half. The sense of loneliness, the sense of despair, the sense of helplessness, of wanting to give up but knowing you can't... Even after the credits were rolling, after someone else in my family had to take the darn thing outta my DVD player, I sat on the couch and cried. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I cried for at least ten minutes. Ugh I even woke up in the middle of the night and started crying. Yeah I'm the slightest bit emotional but not that emotional. That's just how big of an impact this movie had on me. --This text refers to the DVD edition. (from

5 out of 5 stars Excellent, but you'll only watch it once, April 23, 2001
Reviewer: Joe Petrow (see more about me) from Kamakura, Kanagawa-ken Japan
I watched this video about seven years ago. Somehow, I found the strength to make it all the way through. But since then, I have not been able to watch it again. Even thinking about Grave of the Fireflies while writing this has almost moved me to tears. I think I will only watch this movie one more time in my life; when my daughter becomes old enough to appreciate it.

Grave of the Fireflies is a movie you must see once, but you probably won't have the strength to ever watch it again. Then again, you won't have to, because the message and the images it imparts on you will last a lifetime. --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition. (from

5 out of 5 stars One of the best animated movies ever made!, October 14, 2002
Reviewer: Eric Petersen (see more about me) from Lake Katrine, NY USA
Finally, one of the best animated movies ever made gets the collector's edition DVD treatment!

Made in 1988, Grave Of The Fireflies proves that animation can tell serious, moving stories. This story will break your heart and make you cry. Based on a celebrated novel by Akiyuki Nosaka and lovingly adapted for the screen by writer-director-animator Isao Takahata, Grave Of The Fireflies is set in Japan during the last days of World War 2.

Kobe, 1945. American fighter planes firebomb the city to ruins. 14-year-old Seita and his 4-year-old little sister Setsuko made it to the bomb shelter, but their mother wasn't so lucky. With their father in the Navy and no one left to care for them, the kids stay with an aunt who deeply resents having to feed them and treats them cruelly.

Tired of their aunt's verbal abuse, Seita and Setsuko leave and wander the devastated Japanese landscape in search of food and shelter, both of which are very scarce. But they have each other, and that's all they need. Until Setsuko becomes gravely ill from malnutrition.

Desperate to feed his little sister, Seita tries to get food by any means possible, including theft, a crime during wartime. In one of many painful scenes, Seita takes a dying Setsuko to the doctor, who tells him that all she needs is food. But of course, the doctor is not about to share his own food or even tell Seita where he might find some.

A truly tragic, must-see film, Grave Of The Fireflies features amazing lifelike animation. The facial expressions alone will start your tears flowing. The voice talents are incredible, especially 5-year-old Ayano Shiraishi as Setsuko. This story of the love between a young brother and sister, the only thing that nourishes them during a time of suffering and starvation, will melt even the coldest of hearts.

Grave Of The Fireflies was released on DVD few years ago, but this new collector's edition is the one to buy. It features a beautiful, digitally restored anamorphic widescreen picture that blows the old DVD's muddy transfer out of the water. The 2-disc set also includes great extras like interviews with filmmaker Isao Takahata, novelist Akiyuki Nosaka, and film critic Roger Ebert, complete storyboards, the script, a promo, trailers, and much more.

Parents should note that both the Japanese and English dialogue soundtracks are included. This is a movie that you'll want to share with your children, and if they don't like to read subtitles, you can switch to the English dubbed soundtrack, which is well done and true to the original Japanese version.

Grave Of The Fireflies is a movie you won't soon forget. It belongs in every film lover's library, and this wonderful 2-disc DVD collector's edition belongs on everyone's DVD shelf. So buy it and share it with someone you love! (from

5 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, November 7, 1999
Reviewer: Ernest Toh ( from Hong Kong
I am a history teacher and have been showing this movie to my students ever since I have gotten hold of this movie on video. It is a great anti-war movie that should be watched by all especially the young; though it may be disturbing for them, there is a great lesson to be learn from it - there are no winners in any war. An essential movie that should be in every school's library. --This text refers to the DVD edition. (from
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