Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

The second world war has had a big impact on Japan. It lost a lot of power, cities were left in ruins and the military was no longer important. I’ve been to Hiroshima and was at the spot above which the atom bomb was detonated and if you see that place and the accompanying museum you are really at a loss for words. I had the same thing when I visited the Tokyo war museum, in which there were a couple of rooms with the walls lined with only pictures of people who lost their lives during the war. It has made a big impression on me.

Grave of the Fireflies tells the personal story of Setsuko and Seita, brother and sister who try to survive the war. The loss of their mother has already changed their lives, but because of it Setsuko is forced to leave the town and take care of his little sister. As the Americans keep bombarding the country it is very hard to survive as there is hardly anything to eat. Every day they have to search for a way to survive.

With Grave of the Fireflies Studio Ghibli shows that it can also tell a very dark, realistic, haunting and depressing story. It’s the type of animation that I would not suggest watching with very young children, as it is not an easy movie to watch. War and death are recurring themes and it’s a movie that you will watch to get a better feel of what it’s like to live in a country during war. It has a heavy emotional impact and it’s not one you will watch for fun.

The thing I like about Grave of the Fireflies is that it tells a very human story about survival and manages to show this in a very captivating way. The animation is, just like you’d expect from Studio Ghibli, excellent. The scenes with the title’s fireflies are magical, but at the same time the bombardments are shown realistically.
It’s a movie that will leave a lasting impression and has really deserved its spot in the IMDB top 250.

7 thoughts on “Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

  1. Harrowing, gut-wrenching stuff that you won’t find in any other animated offering. Been to Hiroshima myself and you are dead-on about the museums. Just tragic. Solid review, one of the most profound anti-war movies out there.

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