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Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Hotaru no haka (original title)
Not Rated | | Animation, Drama, War | 26 July 1989 (USA)
Trailer
1:47 | Trailer
A young boy and his little sister struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.

Director:

Isao Takahata

Writers:

Akiyuki Nosaka (novel), Isao Takahata
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Popularity
1,762 ( 70)
Top Rated Movies #47 | 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

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

The story of Seita and Setsuko, 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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Produced concurrently with My Neighbor Totoro (1988). Many of the animators had trouble remembering which film they were animating. 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.
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Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Underappreciated Anime Movies (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Home Sweet Home
Written by H.R. Bishop (uncredited)
Performed by Amelita Galli-Curci
Courtesy of RCA Victor Red Seal, a division of BMG Classics
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User Reviews

 
Heartbreaking...
3 January 2006 | by Teebs2See all my reviews

This film proves without any doubt that animation isn't just suited to tales of fantasy, sci-fi or cartoon comedy and violence. This absolutely heartbreaking Japanese anime tells the story of a young boy, Seito and his younger sister, Setsuko, as they attempt to survive the American bombings on Japan in the last year of World War II.

The story itself, based on a true story, is powerful enough but the decision to animate the film truly elevates this film to a higher level. This would have been a powerful enough live action drama, along the lines of Spielberg's Empire of the Sun or even Schindler's List. However, the Studio Ghibli team, have brought an extraordinary amount of life to all the characters, but especially the young siblings. Now we're not talking realism as such here - the characters are in no way photo-realistic, they do have the usual characteristics of Japanese anime humans, large eyes and exaggerated expressions. What this achieves however is a heightened level of subtle nuances in expression which are arguably more powerful and provocative than anything a real-life actor may achieve. Some may claim this is overly manipulative or sentimental, but coupled with the characters movements and actions, it gives the characters such a strong, and very human, presence. You truly care for these kids, which is an astonishing achievement. The voice cast (original Japanese) contributes significantly here also.

It is the tiny moments which give this film so much power and emotional depth - from subtle expressions to brief scenes showing Seito playing with his sister at bath time, attempting, unsuccessfully, to cheer her up when she misses her mother. The painted backgrounds are works of art in themselves, just beautiful. And of course the scenes with the fireflies bring a touch of pure magic - a heightened innocent reality to contrast the horrific realities of the war.

The greatest achievement of this film is that, apart from a couple of obviously sentimental scenes, such as Setsuko's sobbing or illness, it doesn't force any false emotion on the viewer. It really comes from your involvement with the characters. It's completely honest to it's own story and even cuts off scenes abruptly, which could potentially have been milked for cheap sentiment. It often seems to say - This is what happened, you don't need to see anymore. Another of it's strengths is that it really doesn't comment on the politics of the war in any way, just the effects on innocent people.

This is an intensely moving film and a masterpiece of animation. If you aren't moved by these characters, you really need to check your pulse. 10/10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

26 July 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Grave of the Fireflies See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$158,101, 12 August 2018

Gross USA:

$516,962

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$516,962
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby (as Dolby Stereo) (theatrical print)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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