Grave of the Fireflies

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Grave of the Fireflies
Directed byIsao Takahata
Screenplay byIsao Takahata
Music byMichio Mamiya, Mamija Joshio
Release date
16 April 1988 (1988-04-16) (Japan)

Grave of the Fireflies (Japanese: 火垂るの墓; romanized: Hotaru no Haka; literally: Tomb of the Lampreys) is a Japanese anime film produced by Studio Ghibli in 1988.

This anime film is considered as extraordinary work, because unlike other anime films, it contains the story of two children who suffer from starvation, while struggling to live by themselves in World War II Japan, and they both die shortly after the war ends. Because of this, the film is considered "heartbreaking".

The director of the film is Isao Takahata. The music was composed by Michio Mamiya and Mamija Joshio. The film was based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, which was first published in 1967. It was written by Nosaka Akiyuki, who wrote it to honor his sister who died from starvation during World War II, and to also cope with survivor guilt.

In 2005, a non-animated Japanese live action film of the same title and story was released.

Plot[change | change source]

The story is set in 1945 in Japan during the final months of World War II. Seita (aged 14) and his younger sister Setsuko (aged 4), are children who temporarily have no parents, after their mother dies in the bombing of Kobe (the children survived the bombing), while their father is out serving the Japanese Imperial Navy during the war, and knows nothing about the situation of his family back home. Because of this, Seita and Setsuko move in with their aunt who lives in the nearby city of Nishinomiya. Their aunt seems kind at first, but later treats them badly. After repeated insults, the children pack up and leave their aunt's house and move into an abandoned bomb shelter, which is located on the banks of a nearby river. Seita and Setsuko are well-fed at first but that lasts only a short while. The two fall into hunger, and after a while, the hunger turns into starvation. Meanwhile, Seita begins stealing food, for which he is assaulted by a farmer and sent to the police. The police realizes that he is stealing out of starvation and releases him from the station. Shorlty after his release, Seita continues stealing food. The war ends with the surrender of the Japanese. All of the ships serving the Japanese Imperial Navy had been sunk, and Seita and Setsuko's father is most likely dead, thus making them possible orphans. Seita is distraught upon learning of this. By the time the war ends, Setsuko is very weak and she dies shortly after the war ends. After her death, Seita buys some charcoal and cremates her body. After the cremation, Seita decides to leave the bomb shelter and become homeless. He dies in a train station all alone from starvation, as people who pass by him, ignore him and pretend they don't notice him. Upon his death, Seita's spirit reunites with his sister Setsuko's spirit. The film ends with Seita and his sister Setsuko's spirits overlooking modern-day Kobe.

Related pages[change | change source]