Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Poster

Japanese title: 火垂るの墓
(Hotaru no haka)

Comments on Movie: Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
"When was the last time an animated movie changed your philosophical outlook?" - Eddie Feng, Movie Metropolis.

"It holds tremendous power to reduce a grownup into a sobering mess." - Eternality Tan, @Filmnomenon.

"Grave of the Fireflies is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation." - Roger Ebert,

"The most profoundly human animated film I've ever seen. This is to animation what Schindler's List was to Spielberg – both a long overdue display of artistic maturity and a bold statement of ability." - Ernest Rister, Talkbacker.

"One of the most heartbreaking films ever made! Never underestimate the power of story telling through animation and the importance of film making!" Rosalyn Lim.

Anime Drama Tragedy War Isao Takahata 2D Animation Animated Feature Rosalyn's Favorite

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Trailer

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) at a glance
Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is a drama, war-themed animated feature film directed by Isao Takahata. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka, this film has garnered critical acclaim from film critics including the late prominent and influential American film critic Roger Ebert who has said it belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made as well as listed it in his "Great Movies" which not many animated features made it to the list.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Synopsis
This haunting Japanese anime tells the story of two children, 14-year old Seita and his four-year old sister Setsuko, who are struggling to survive in 1940s war-torn Japan where bombings by American warplanes and napalm attacks are an almost daily occurrence. When their mother is killed in an air raid and the fate of their Naval officer father remains unknown, the children are left to fend for themselves.

After a brief and uncomfortable stay with a cold and distant aunt, who makes it clear that she doesn't want to be burdened with them, they left and set up home in an abandoned bomb shelter. For a while they find some happiness living on their own with a field of almost magical fireflies to keep them company. But as the rationing of food grows more unbearable, Seita finds it an increasing struggle to keep himself and Setsuko alive.

21-in-1 Update: 

Movie Review: Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Fireflies in the children's new home.

Honestly, I do not know how to describe Grave of the Fireflies (1988) in words but this film is so... innocent yet depressing. Although released as double feature in parallel with My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and I certainly can't compute why it is a lesser known film from Studio Ghibli, this film is undeniably beautiful and powerful.


Grave of the Fireflies (1988) can be interpreted in various ways but it certainly is able to leave audiences speechless and/or tear their eyes out. Usually both, though, as this film is one of the saddest films ever made.

Heartbreaking story of a tragedy during wartime.

With superb cinematography, brilliantly utilizes colors and depicts simple joy of life as well as tragedy in high precision, Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is truly one of the most heartbreaking films ever made!!

At the farm.

All in all, please, consider watching this tragic film as it has the ability to change you in some ways! It shouts never underestimate the power of story telling through animation and the importance of film making!

PS. This is definitely one of my top favorite animated feature. No further review needed.

Movie Ratings
Will write a page regarding this and add this to all animated feature entries in the future.

Who will like this?
You. Must. Watch. This.

This is the first and one of very few films that I rate 10 stars on IMDb!

Details of the movie
Director: Isao Takahata
Producer: Toru Hara
Story: Akiyuki Nosaka
Screenplay: Isao Takahata
Cinematography: Nobuo Koyama
Music: Michio Mamiya
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Starring: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi
Full Credit: [IMDb]
Distributor: Toho
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genre: Anime Drama War
Running time: 89 mins
Budget: Not sure.
Box office: Not sure.

Official website(s)

Only Yesterday (1991)
Pom Poko (1994)
My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)
Studio Ghibli
Rosalyn's Favorite
Rosalyn's Animated Movie Marathon

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Behind the Scenes

Favorite Movie Character
Seita and Setsuko

I love Setsuko and I am saddened by the tragedy upon them. Setsuko is such a sweet, lovely and strong four-years old girl. She is also quite obedient and mature for her age. She wouldn't throw tantrum even though there are things that she never liked or enjoyed but she bears with them instead. It is so heartbreaking to watch her slowly dying away and couldn't do anything T-T

Therefore, although her brother Seita is devoted to her and he did his best to ensure her survival and happiness, in the end, I find him so foolish! </3

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Movie Quotes
Not complete but these lines are my own interpretation and translation from some of what I've heard from watching the film. :<
  1. Is he dead?
  2. This one is a goner too, you can see it in their eyes.
  3. Setsuko, be a good girl, try to be patient.
  4. Mother, do you have your medicine with you?
  5. I hate the shelter.
  6. You'll be sorry if you are blown up by the bomb.
  7. Brother! Brother! Brother! 
  8. Long live the emperor!
  9. We are safe here. Don't worry.
  10. Where is mother?
  11. I lost one of my shoes.
  12. I have money. Open this.
  13. Wow, Setsuko is rich. 
  14. Is our home gone too?
  15. My eyes hurt.
  16. Mother will be at the school.
  17. Wasn't that scary Setsuko? Did you cry?
  18. My mother has heart problems. Can she take her medicine?
  19. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.
  20. Keep this ring in your purse, don't ever lose it.
  21. Mother is hurt but she will be better though.
  22. Want to eat some?
  23. I want to see mother.
  24. Mother! 
  25. Where is she? Is she still sick?
  26. Mother doesn't need her ring? Did she give it to me?
  27. When mother's a little better, I will bring you to see her. 
  28. You cant get these any where for anything.
  29. I didn't want Setsuko to know. 
  30. Firefly!
  31. Here, try to catch it.
  32. Hey Setsuko, open your mouth and say ah!
  33. Duropu! (Fruit drop?)
  34. Want to go to the beach?
  35. Let's go let's go!
  36. This is a huge bath tub!
  37. Snip! Snip! Snip!
  38. What's the matter? Is he sleeping?
  39. I am tired. Brother, carry me.
  40. They are mother's! Don't take them away! 
  41. White rice, Setsuko!
  42. We finished those ages ago.
  43. You're old enough. Start thinking about how you can be of help.
  44. You keep saying you want rice but do you earn it? No you didn't and it just won't do that way.
  45. But those rice are our rice.
  46. I am hungry and thirsty too.
  47. I am telling father to write back soon because you will be waiting.
  48. I'll take that comb and do you have... an umbrella?
  49. They refuse to apologise to me. That boy even bought a new pot.
  50. That's not polite.
  51. We can sit any way we want now.
  52. Let me do it!
  53. It's all different tastes.
  54. I want to go home. I hate living with her.
  55. Can we really live here?
  56. We've bothered you long enough and we are leaving now.
  57. This will be the kitchen. This will be the front door. But where is the bathroom?
  58. It's dark in there I am scared.
  59. I can see you!
  60. I wonder where is father now.
  61. Get off me, brother.
  62. Making a grave. Mother is in grave too. Aunt told me. She said mother died and she is in a grave.
  63. Why do fireflies have to die so soon?
  64. I have even traded my mother's kimono, I don't have anything to trade anymore.
  65. I am a farmer but I don't even have any rice to spare.
  66. Take my advice and go back to that woman. Swallow your pride and apologise to her
  67. We can do this?
  68. It doesn't matter if you don't like. You have to nourish yourself.
  69. Please, she is sick and she needs me.
  70. Brother? Where does it hurt? Should I get a doctor?
  71. You must eat and get well!
  72. Now I can really get you something good to eat, Setsuko!
  73. Weakening from malnutrition
  74. Medicine.... All this child need is food.
  75. Where do I get food?!
  76. I'll withdraw the money and buy all the food you want.
  77. I don't want anything, just stay with me, brother. Please don't go. Please don't leave me. 
  78. Rice balls, I made them for you... Here, have them. You don't like them?
  79. Setsuko never wake up anymore...
  80. Come back soon kay!
  81. It's late, time for bed.


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