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Showing 1-10 of 457 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,144 reviews
on April 18, 2016
***Review Contains Spoilers***

A stark and harrowing tale of orphaned teen Seita and his younger sister Setsuko as they try to survive on their own in war-torn Japan. Right from the start the film really pulls no punches in its depiction of the horrors of war. Images of air raids, burning homes, mass destruction, injured citizens and mounds of bodies are just a few of the searing images which present themselves within the first 30 minutes of the film. Interestingly though, there is a stillness to this first section of the film even in the midst of such horror. Not only is there very minimal music, there are many scenes with no sound at all save for the voices of the characters speaking. We don't hear the groans of the injured, the shuffle of the displaced townsfolk, or the crackles of the fires. It's an interesting decision which gives this opening section a very solemn and observant feel that forces the viewer to confront the emotional horror without dramatization or distraction.

Beyond the shocking opening, the core of the film goes on to examine how the siblings cope with the death of their mother and loss of their home. At first, they take refuge in a paternal aunt's home who is less-than welcoming. A major theme of the film explored here is how the family unit and society is affected by war. There is a "circling of the wagons" portrayed here where the immediate family is given precedence and the individual begins to fend for him/herself and becomes less willing to offer help to others. Even from the start Setsuko and Seita's aunt seems less than enthusiastic about letting her niece and nephew stay with her and her resentment only grows from there. The lack of food supplies and extra mouths to feed puts a strain on her and she begins to favor her own family over Setsuko and Seita. This theme repeats itself with the other townsfolk as well who are hesitant to share food even as Setsuko grows sick and malnourished.

The bond between neighbors slowly dissolves and a sense of impersonality develops. We as the audience watch as these two children are essentially excommunicated from society and even who we would normally consider "honorable" citizens like a police officer and doctor ultimately turn a blind eye to their suffering. The war itself is portrayed with a similar impersonality. We never see any of the soldiers fighting or hear any of their stores. We simply see these nameless, faceless airplanes flying thousands of feet overhead, dropping their bombs and flying on, unaware and uncaring of the suffering that directly results. It feels like a commentary on the depersonalization and dehumanization that must take place for such acts of violence to be carried out.

The film also makes good use of its central firefly metaphor for a few very poignant scenes. From what I gathered, the fireflies in the film essential represent those lost to war; they are the silent remnants and glowing reminders of the departed. Keeping this in mind throughout the film gives many scenes an eerie quality. Setsuko and Seita are often seen surrounded by fireflies which essentially feel like harbingers of the death that will eventually befall them both. One scene in particular struck me: the two spend their first night in the converted bomb shelter after running away from their aunt and fill the space with fireflies to keep it lit. It's a beautiful scene on the surface, but with a very dark undertone. At this point, even before their deaths, Setsuko and Seita have left the land of the living and are already taking their place among the dead.

Another particularly powerful scene directly follows. Setsuko reveals that she has been aware that their mother has died for some time now, a detail which Seita thought he had successfully kept secret from her. Upon hearing her speak these words, Seita breaks down into tears and this is the first time we see him truly emotionally react to the death of his mother. Up until this point he had shouldered the role of protector, keeping a straight face and trying to protect Setsuko from the horrors that have befallen them as much as possible. It is at this moment that he realizes how futile that action has been, as the war has already made its irreversible impact on Setsuko. At this moment, I feel he is crying not just for his mother, but also for the innocence that he knows his sister has lost despite his best efforts.

Although it isn't an easy watch by any means, Grave of the Fireflies is a powerful statement on war and its devastating personal and societal impacts. It feels very fitting that Seita goes against the advice to cremate his younger sister in a church, instead opting for an open field. After being denied help and care from so many of his fellow citizens, he has recognized the grave societal change which has taken place and has all but abandoned tradition or custom. He chooses to grieve the loss of his sister (and himself) only among the fireflies.
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on July 11, 2015
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said. The movie is visually provocative and tells a heartbreaking story of the consequences of war. The new English dub is okay, but the little girl sounded too much like an adult trying to sound like a kid instead of an actual child. It is not a dialogue-heavy film, so watching it in Japanese with subtitles is probably your best bet. An amazing film for an older audience - great for fans of the studio who want to experience a much more mature story. There's no fantasy elements in this film like many of the studio's most popular works, but it's arguably their best and at the least one of their top five films. So if you can handle a dark tale of human perseverance, pick up this film - and quick before this great Blu-ray goes out of print.
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on March 7, 2012
There isn't much that i can say that others haven't already said about this film, simply put, it is a masterpiece, it is a film that reaches emotionally jarring heights equal to that of films like Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, and Schindler's List, it is a film that teaches us that in times of war there are no winners only victims, that the only sure outcome of war is human suffering, that we need to shed our hatred for one-another and work together to help each other in times of need and desperation rather than ignoring the injustice acts of misery we ourselves are responsible for inflicting, all in the hopes that the events depicted in this film never happen again.

This new release of Grave of the Fireflies has improved picture and sound quality making it worth owning even if you own any of the previous DVD releases, sadly it doesn't come with any of the special features that are present on the Collector's Edition, thus is the reason i've given this 4 stars.
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on April 12, 2016
Like some have said, this is one of the greatest anime's ever created. On par with most, if not all, non-animated movies in terms of emotional power.

I saw it as part of a college anime group in the 90s and it will always remain one of my favorite movies. Acting, animation (even if it's dated), and dialogue are all top notch and on-point for the story it's trying to tell.

I've had copies of it on VHS, DVD, and now Blu-ray. It should be part of everyone's library but it's not a kid's movie due to its unflinching look at the realities and repercussions of war on civilians (especially children).
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VINE VOICEon January 2, 2011
Grave of the Fireflies of one of the most moving films in the form of Japanese animation that depicts one of the most important parts of the War in the Pacific that greatly evokes a tremendous affect on the emotions. The interesting story behind coming across the film occurred during one class session where I had been teaching the evening's topic of the day, the history of Japan and the interpretation of how war was translated through political cartoons. Having heard several students' suggestions, commentaries, and recommendations about Grave of the Fireflies, they indeed, were extremely correct to say that it falls under the category of being poignant.

Although the film is animated, the storyline and most of all, the history of Japan during this pinnacle part of World War II glares enormously and shows the other side of the war through the eyes of those who did not fight it, but rather the Japanese civilians who had been greatly affected by the war experience within their homeland. The story is based on the autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka and centers upon a brother Seita and his sister Setsuko who become orphans after their village experiences endless destruction. By viewing the opening scenes of the film that take place after the Japanese surrender in the city of Kobe and the moment Seita comes on the screen and the flash of fireflies show a symbolic menagerie of he and his sister, immediately, viewers may get a gut reaction filled with emotions. As one watches each scene, several major themes will arise that deal with survival, suffering, and humanity.

And after viewing the film, one may have more questions to ask or add another perception of how war affects those involved. And like my students, I, too, agree that the film is another form of how history is narrated and told, and is recommended for those who are curious about the War in Asia from this particular perspective that may have been overlooked or not considered.
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on May 11, 2016
What can I say? It wads very beautiful, very emotional tale about two children struggling to survive through the many raids attacking their nation. I almost cried when watching this movie, it was so sad! The dub doesn't manage to capture the exact emotions the characters expressed in the Japanese audio, but it still managed to do a good job. I highly recommend this for any anime fan.
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on September 3, 2017
This is one of the saddest movies ive ever seen. I really appreciate and respect the way it highlights the horrors of war without taking the opportunity they could have to dump on the united states or any other nation involved in the conflict. Its just about the horrors the kids had to endure and could be laid over the back drop of any military conflict and still be just as valid
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on December 15, 2014
As a child, I remember almost every movie and book I saw about WWII, and yet most of them focused on the turmoil in Europe. It wasn’t until I was older and a history major that I started learning more about the impact of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the American fire bomb raids on the port city of Kobe, which is the story that this movie focus on. My history professor actually was the one who showed me this movie, and to this day I am glad he did. Seeing the impact of violence and war through a child’s eyes is extremely powerful, and the animation in this movie is absolutely beautiful.

I am sure most children remember reading Number the Stars and other Holocaust stories but the Asian side of WWII is equally important for children to learn about. I highly recommend this movie.

If you like this movie and are looking for others like it, I recommend Barefoot Gen. It is a bit more graphic and upsetting, but again an extremely powerful story of survival told through the animated voice of a young boy. Highly recommend.
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on October 31, 2015
It is 1945 and Japan is heavily involved in World War II as American planes drop bombs and bullets from the sky. 14 year-old Seita (Adam Gibbs) and his 4 year-old sister Setsuko (Emily Neves) are forced to flee from their home in Kobe after a bombing levels the city. With Japan suffering greatly from the war, Seita and Setsuko attempt to survive any way they can.

This is easily the saddest animated movie I have ever seen. It really reminds the viewer of the kinds of horrors that war causes and how innocent victims are often the result. In this way, it is a good portrayal of how war affects civilians and one of the millions of tragedies caused by the war. The animation and music is done extremely well and it looks and sounds great on this Blu-ray.

The only negative in my opinion is the remastered English dub which I thought was poorly done with some wooden acting.

As bonus features, this disc includes the original storyboards, the original Japanese soundtrack, and the original English dub from 1988.

This is an extremely well-put together film and very touching. I highly recommend this to those that like animation.
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on May 15, 2017
One of the most beautiful accounts of history. My six year old son was put in a room the other night with the movie and I could hear his sweet little self crying big fat tears over this movie. Captures the attention and emotion of little children. I can give ten starts, I would do that.
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