Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Grave of the Fireflies also known as “Hotaru No Haka”

Reviewed by: Caleb Thiessen
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Animation War Drama
Length:
1 hr. 28 min.
Year of Release:
1988

Starring: Voices of Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi (English Language Version: J. Robert Spencer, Rhoda Chrosite, Veronica Taylor, Amy Jones) | Directed by: Isao Takahata | Produced by: Tohru Hara | Written by: Isao Takahata, from a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka | Distributor: U.S. Magna Corps/Central Park Media

The body of a fourteen-year-old Japanese boy is slouched against a pillar in a train station. He looks battered and sore .He falls over and whispers the name “Setsuko”, and takes his last breath. His spirit and the spirit of his four-year-old sister will tell you their story…

And so the movie begins. This is a deeply moving tale about a young man named Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, who desperately try to survive the closing of WWII in Kobe, Japan. They finally settle in a bomb shelter and they live off of very, very little.

I was very excited to watch this movie because I thought it would have beautiful Japanese anime without all the sex and violence that pollute most of these films. This movie is very beautiful, full of color and life.

If you watch this movie knowing it was actually based on a semi-autobiography by a man named Akiyuki Nosaka who lost his young sister due to malnutrition, then you will probably have a very hard time keeping back the tears. Make sure you have tissue nearby! I was so horrified to see what these poor little children had to live through.

Keep in mind this is NOT a Disney movie, and it is clearly NOT for children below the age of 13. There are scenes of burn victims in shelters and bodies are burnt and cremated. Seita steals food and clothing. There is some mild swearing too: 1 use each of h*** and d*** as far as I can remember.

You can tell the older brother adores his sister and vice-versa. He is very kind and loving towards her and he does his best to help her survive. There are light-hearted moments too but they are few and far-between; but all the way through their nightmare you can sense a strong bond between them.

I highly recommend this film to any movie-goer. It is not your typical anime. It is full of heart and warmth and definitely a tear-jerker. It is far-and-away my favorite war-time movie.

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