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Grave of the Fireflies [Blu-ray]

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,051 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

As the Empire of the Sun crumbles upon itself and a rain of firebombs falls upon Japan, the final death march of a nation is echoed in millions of smaller tragedies. This is the story of Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, two children born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and now cast adrift in a world that lacks not the care to shelter them, but simply the resources. Forced to fend for themselves in the aftermath of fires that swept entire cities from the face of the earth, their doomed struggle is both a tribute to the human spirit and the stuff of nightmares. Beautiful, yet at times brutal and horrifying.


Isao Takahata's powerful antiwar film has been praised by critics wherever it has been screened around the world. When their mother is killed in the firebombing of Tokyo near the end of World War II, teenage Seita and his little sister Setsuko are left on their own: their father is away, serving in the Imperial Navy. The two children initially stay with an aunt, but she has little affection for them and resents the time and money they require. The two children set up housekeeping in a cave by a stream, but their meager resources are quickly exhausted, and Seita is reduced to stealing to feed his sister. Despite his efforts, she succumbs to malnutrition. Seita painfully makes his way back to the crowded city, where he quietly dies in a crowded railway station. The strength of the film lies in Takahata's evenhanded portrayal of the characters. A sympathetic doctor, the greedy aunt, the disinterested cousins all know there is little they can do for Seita and Setsuko. Their resources, like their country's, are already overtaxed: anything they spare endangers their own survival. As in Barefoot Gen, no mention is made of Japan's role in the war as an aggressor; but the depiction of the needless suffering endured by its victims transcends national and ideological boundaries. Takahata's extraordinary film suggests a flower on the grave of countless children who, like Seika and Setsuko, died needlessly in wars they neither fought nor understood. (Unrated: suitable for ages 12 and older, violence, emotionally intense material) --Charles Solomon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ayano Shiraishi, Tsutomu Tatsumi, Akemi Yamaguchi, Yoshiko Shinohara, J. Robert Spencer
  • Directors: Isao Takahata
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Blu-ray, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Section23 Films
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2012
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,051 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,136 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ian Krupnick on January 11, 2004
Format: DVD
I generally don't cry at movies. I love any movie that can move me enough to shed a tear or two. Grave Of the Fireflies is not one of those movies. In those movies even though I'm sad the final scenes leave me with a residual hope that while some tragic event has just occured the charecters involved will grow and live better. Grave of the Fireflies doesn't do this. There is no hope or possiabilty of things getting better. This is Life at it's cruelest. Life that will never get better. This movie doesn't move you, it shatters you.
Seita And Setsuko (the boy and His little sister) aren't Heros and their abusive aunt isn't the villian. Neither for that matter is either side of the war protrayed as good or bad in these movie. This is just a story of people being people. some kind, some indiffrent and some compleatly harsh. Seita makes mistakes that many children in his position would.
Although fifteen years old this film is still very beatiful. The images it portrays are quiet and subdued yet elegent. The final scene is something that shall forever be burned into my brain. It's touching and heartwrenching finality should break most people.
Well I love Grave of the Fireflies. I Love it for it's unflinching look at war and life, It's graceful bueaty as it portrays a young girl playing amidst Fireflies, and for what it does to me at the end.
Why must fireflies die so young?
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Format: DVD
"Grave of the Fireflies" ("Hotaru no haka") is one of the most powerful anti-war films I have ever seen, which means that it has no competition when it comes to emotional impact in terms of animated films. The death of Bambi's mother was a traumatic shock, but nothing like the sense of despair and grief that overwhelms you by the end of this film. The film begins with the spirit of a young boy showing us his death in a train station, after which we follow the fireflies into the past to see his story. At the beginning of the original movie of "Brian's Song" we were told: "All true stories end in death. This is a true story." So is "Grave of the Fireflies" because I have no problem granting the legitimacy of "truth" to fiction.

In the last months of World War II an American fire bomb raid destroys the port city of Kobe, where almost all of the buildings are made of wood. Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi/J. Robert Spencer) is a 14-year old boy who survives along with his 4-year old sister Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi/Rhoda Chrosite). They were separated from their mother during the raid, which spares them from her fate. Their father is a navy officer serving in the Imperial Navy at sea, and the two kids go off to live with an aunt. With both his school and the war factory where we worked gone, Seita does not know what to do. So he tries to take care of his sister. But his aunt constantly berates him and after trading his mother's kimonos for rice that she stingly shares with the children, Seita decides to take Setsuko and live in a couple of caves dug for bomb shelters. For a while their live remains idyllic, but then there is nothing left to trade for food, and no food to be bought for money. Seita has to steal food to survive while Setsuko is getting weaker and weaker from hunger.
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Format: DVD
Note: It seems a crime that this classic has been off the DVD market. Now this digitally remastered and restored version will be able to reintroduce the film to a new generation.

"Grave of the Fireflies" is a film that I'd heard about for years before I finally got around to viewing it. As one of the most well-respected early anime classics--of course, I expected great things. I knew vaguely what the picture was about and knew that its tone strove for realism as opposed to fantasy. But what I didn't really comprehend is that it would be such a mature story geared toward adult audiences. The sophistication, complicated subject matter, and sorrow contained within "Grave of the Fireflies" made it one of the more surprisingly moving films that I'd seen in quite some time.

The story is simplistic. Set in war-torn Japan near the end of the World War II, two kids must deal with the unexpected death of their mother in a bombing attack. With no one to care for them and their home destroyed, they attempt to live independently. Naturally, there are many obstacles to overcome, and the horrors of war are depicted with surprising candor. I had not expected the film to be so forthright in its depiction of such a serious subject matter.

What really distinguishes "Grave" is that it becomes a powerful story of love and commitment. As the brother embraces the responsibility of caring for his much younger sister, we see him take the reins of adulthood. It is a coming-of-age story by necessity. The relationship between the siblings is amazingly realistic and thoughtful. And even though the film is animated, it is perhaps one of the most stirring tales of familial loyalty that you can see.
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1 Comment 129 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
With nearly 300 reviews in the queue, I'm not sure anyone will ever read this.... BUT, if you do, then know that this movie can't be recommended enough. If you've read any other comments, then you know that this is a depressing film. Oh yeah. I actually read the script about a year before I ordered the movie. And I broke into tears reading the script!! We're talking powerful stuff. Now, we've all seen war movies and gory movies and we read the newspapers with the horrors of our modern life, so you'd think this would be nothing. I think the brilliance of this movie is that by presenting it in anime form it disarms the mind, and allows us to really become the characters. Since they aren't real, we transpose ourselves into their roles, and their roles are heartbreaking. Alone, and betrayed by adults both familial and strange : adults who ought to know better. But this is real life. We know it. We know that this is how adults turn on others, and how they turn on the weak, and become selfish. The children symbolize the weakness and helplessness of man in a modern and indifferent world. In a sense, we are all children, and we are all abandoned. If you have a heart, if you have intellect and a mind willing to listen and see, then you will not fail to be touched by this movie. Now, I will say that this is not necessarily an anti-war movie. I mean, on the other hand, is anyone really pro-war? This movie tries to merely speak some truth. War is a reality, and in some cases a sad necessity, but in my view the real point of the story is to show how thin, how very thin, is the veneer of civilisation.
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