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Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)



Starring the voices of

Tsutomu Tatsumi

Ayano Shiraishi

Yoshiko Shinohara

Akemi Yamaguchi


Directed by Isao Takahata


Set in the city of Kobe, Japan, the film tells the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, and their desperate struggle to survive during the final months of the Second World War. The class in this animation is in the drama which unfolds steadily. You get to witness the power of movie making, as the film transmit the hurt and pain from the screen to the heart. This is one of the best movies you can see and one of the best anime’s out there.

The screenplay is written and directed by Isao Takahata, based on a short story by Akiyuki Nosaka. Nosaka wrote the fifteen pages short story as a semi-autobiography about his experience during the firebombing of Kobe in 1945. It was there he lost his sisters and adoptive younger sister.


When you are done watching this film, you will agree to its critical acclaim and accept that it can fight off any present challenger as of today as one of the best war movies to see. The tragic tale of two siblings just trying to get by is well structured in this anime by Takahata.

The animation to this movie was done by Studio Ghibli, but they had no hand in the story or direction to which the movie was produced.


The plot starts with a tragedy, and we witness all the things that led to that sorry state. Seita is a teenager during this World War II in September of 1945. His sad tale starts with the firebombing of his town, Kobe.

During the raid, Seita's mother told him and his little sister Setsuko to move in with his aunt during the raid and they are to meet up later. The raid was deadly and many people did not make it. It was there that the tragic tales in Seita's life starts. His mother did not make it out. He and Setsuko moved in with their aunt, but that experience did not go well for them. Soon they were forced to venture out on their own and fend for themselves. The anime takes a darker turn from here on as we see the struggles these siblings have to go through to eat and care for themselves and more tragedy laid before Seita.


This 1988 production is still readily available for viewing and I will beg you to take the time to see it. Two live action production of this anime has been done. I have not seen any, but I wonder if they were able to capture the desolation and destruction this anime was able to do.

This is a classic.


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