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Encyclopedia > Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies
Directed by Isao Takahata
Produced by Toru Hara
Written by Novel:
Akiyuki Nosaka
Isao Takahata
Starring Tsutomu Tatumi
Ayano Shiraishi
Yoshiko Shinohara
Akemi Yamaguchi
Music by Michio Mamiya
Cinematography Nobuo Koyama
Editing by Takeshi Seyama
Distributed by Toho
Release date(s) Japan April 16, 1988
South Korea April 5, 1989
Running time 88 min.
Language Japanese
Budget Unknown
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓 Hotaru no Haka?) is a 1988 anime movie written and directed by Isao Takahata for Shinchosha.[1] This is the first film produced by Shinchosha, who hired Studio Ghibli to do the animation production work. It is an adaptation of the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka, intended as a personal apology to the author's own sister. Image File history File links Grave_of_the_Fireflies_DVDcover. ... Isao Takahata , born October 29, 1935) is one of the most famous directors of anime, or Japanese animated films. ... History Akiyuki Nosaka was born on 10 October 1930 in Kanagawa. ... Isao Takahata , born October 29, 1935) is one of the most famous directors of anime, or Japanese animated films. ... The English-language version of Tohos famous logo, used from the early 1960s to the late 1990s. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Japan. ... is the 106th day of the year (107th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... Image File history File links Flag_of_South_Korea. ... is the 95th day of the year (96th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays 1989 Gregorian calendar). ... A Grave of Fireflies ) is a 1967 semi-autobiographical novel by Japanese novelist Akiyuki Nosaka. ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... “Animé” redirects here. ... “Moving picture” redirects here. ... The film director, on the right, gives last minute direction to the cast and crew, whilst filming a costume drama on location in London. ... Isao Takahata , born October 29, 1935) is one of the most famous directors of anime, or Japanese animated films. ... Shinchosha headquarters. ... Studio Ghibli, Inc. ... A biological adaptation is an anatomical structure, physiological process or behavioral trait of an organism that has evolved over a period of time by the process of natural selection such that it increases the expected long-term reproductive success of the organism. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... History Akiyuki Nosaka was born on 10 October 1930 in Kanagawa. ...

Some critics—most notably Roger Ebert—consider it to be one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made. Animation historian Ernest Rister compares the film to Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and says, "it is the most profoundly human animated film I've ever seen."[2] Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. ... Roger Joseph Ebert (born June 18, 1942) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic. ... Anti war protest in Melbourne, Australia, 2003 Anti_war is a name that is widely adopted by any social movement or person that seeks to end or oppose a future or current war. ... Steven Allan Spielberg KBE (born December 18, 1946)[1] is an American film director and producer. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...



Taking place toward the end of World War II in Japan, Grave of the Fireflies is the poignant tale of the relationship between two orphaned children, Seita (清太) and his younger sister Setsuko (節子). The children lose their mother in the firebombing of Kobe, and their father in service to the Imperial Japanese Navy, and as a result they are forced to try to survive amidst widespread famine and the callous indifference of their countrymen (some of whom are their own extended family members). Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... On March 17th, 1945, three hundred and thirty-one American B-29 bombers launched a firebombing attack against the city of Kobe, Japan. ... The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) (: 大日本帝國海軍 Shinjitai: 大日本帝国海軍   or 日本海軍 Nippon Kaigun), officially Navy of Empire of Greater Japan, also known as the Japanese Navy or Combined Fleet was the Navy of Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japans constitutional renunciation of the use of force... A famine is a social and economic crisis that is commonly accompanied by widespread malnutrition, starvation, epidemic and increased mortality. ...

Story origin and interpretations

The story is based on the semi-autobiographic novel by the same name, whose author, Nosaka, lost his sister due to malnutrition in 1945 wartime Japan. He blamed himself for her death and wrote the story so as to make amends to her and help him accept the tragedy.

Due to the graphic and truly emotional depiction of the negative consequences of war on society and the individuals therein, some critics have viewed Grave of the Fireflies as an anti-war film. The film does provide an insight into Japanese culture by focusing its attention almost entirely on the personal tragedies that wars give rise to, rather than seeking to glamorize it as a heroic struggle between competing ideologies. Conversely, some critics have cited the film's narrow focus on suffering by solely Japanese characters as a classic example of Japanese myopia toward the root causes of World War II and the failure of Japan to address its own grave responsibilities for aggressive acts of war and war crimes dating to the 1930s. [3] Japanese culture and language Japans isolation until the arrival of the Black Ships and the Meiji era produced a culture distinctively different from any other, and echoes of this uniqueness persist today. ... For other uses, see War (disambiguation). ...

An alternative interpretation is that Grave of the Fireflies illustrates the danger of pride over reason. This view is expressed by the director Takahata in his interview on the 2-disc 2002 release, who expresses surprise that audiences sympathize with Seita, instead of recognizing that his actions cause his and his sister's death. This view holds that Nosaka's alter ego, Seita, must face a crucial decision (on two occasions: when he leaves the aunt's house and when the man in the field rejects him), either stay with the wicked aunt, work, earn money and face reality, or run away. Ultimately, Seita chooses pride over reason, and his fate and that of Setsuko is the result of his own decision to leave the aunt's house. Had they stayed, they would have most likely survived. Moreover, some have argued that if the film is in fact true to the book (which is a personal apology to the author's own sister), such a premise in and of itself hardly demonstrates an intent to make the film a strident anti-war treatise.

More broadly, as Seita's wounds are self-inflicted, and also kill his sister, it can be read as a criticism of Japan's involvement in World War II: Japanese pride caused great damage to the nation.

In fact, to some, the war is itself only the initial cause of the events. Following the B-29 raid, there are only brief references to the loss of the Imperial Fleet (and thus the children's father, aboard the heavy cruiser Maya) and the end of the war, both in the first half of the film. The story is one of personal trial in the midst of a society which has no resources to help two orphans out of many, and the choices made by a boy who is in over his head. The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was a four-engine heavy bomber propeller aircraft flown by the United States Army Air Forces in World War II and other military organizations afterwards. ... Maya (Japanese: まや Kanji: 摩耶) was one of four Takao-class heavy cruisers, designed to be an improvement over the previous Myōkō-class design. ...

About the title

Japanese nouns do not change to form plurals, so hotaru can refer to one firefly or many. Seita and Setsuko catch fireflies and use them to illuminate the bomb shelter in which they live. The next day, Setsuko digs a grave for all of the dead insects, and asks "Why do fireflies die so young?", so the title might serve to heighten the symbolic and thematic significance of the incident. Genera Curtos Cyphonocerus Drilaster Ellychnia Hotaria Lampyris Lucidina Lucidota Luciola - Japanese fireflies Phausis Photinus - common eastern firefly Photuris Pristolycus Pyractomena Pyrocoelia Stenocladius many others Wikispecies has information related to: Lampyridae Lampyridae is a family in the beetle order Coleoptera, members of which are commonly called fireflies, lightning bugs, or glow...

Alternatively, it may be that Setsuko is the "firefly" of the title, herself dying young. If so, the title can be interpreted as A Grave for a Firefly. Or to maintain the lack of distinction over plurals, The Firefly Grave could also be used.

In the Japanese title of the movie the word hotaru (firefly) is written not with its usual kanji 蛍 but with the two kanji 火 (hi, fire) and 垂 (tareru, to dangle down, as a droplet of water about to fall from a leaf). This can evoke images of fireflies as droplets of fire. Some consider that this evokes senkō hanabi, a fire droplet firework (a sparkler firework which is held upside down). This is particularly poignant in this respect because it must be held very still or the fire will drop and die, which represents the fragility of life. Senkō hanabi also evoke images of family, because it is a summer tradition in Japan for families to enjoy fireworks together. Fireworks, in general, are considered to be another symbol of the ephemerality of life. Watching fireflies is another summer family tradition. Together, the references evoke the bond between Seita and Setsuko, but at the same time emphasize their isolation due to the absence of their parents. Japanese writing Kanji Kana Hiragana Katakana Hentaigana Manyōgana Uses Furigana Okurigana Rōmaji   ) are the Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese logographic writing system along with hiragana (平仮名), katakana (片仮名), and the Arabic numerals. ...

Alternatively, pairing the two kanji for "fire" and "dangle down" may also be a metaphor for the experience of aerial bombing using incendiary weapons. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Japanese during the war sometimes referred to falling and exploding incendiary bomblets as "fireflies." hey hey you no i rock at soccer cuz no i made the school team!! yay me aka katelyn ♥ Incendiary devices or incendiary bombs are bombs designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using materials such as napalm, thermite, chlorine trifluoride, or white phosphorus. ...

Firefly symbolism

Particular firefly symbolism in the movie:

  • Actual fireflies (who die and are buried by Setsuko)
  • The children themselves, especially Setsuko, who die young
  • Kamikaze planes and pilots: Setsuko observes that a passing kamikaze plane looks like a firefly
  • Incendiary bomblets (as in the title kanji)

Mature fireflies which emit light have extremely short life spans of two to three weeks and are traditionally regarded as a symbol of impermanence, which resonates with much of classical Japanese tradition (as with cherry blossoms). Fireflies are also symbolic of the human soul ("Hitodama"), which is depicted as a floating, flickering fireball. ("Heike Hotaru", a species of firefly that exist in the Western region of Japan, is so-called because people considered their lights, hovering near rivers and lakes, to be the souls of the Heike family, all of whose members perished in a famous historic naval engagement - the Battle of Dan-no-ura.) USS Bunker Hill was hit by Ogawa (see picture left) and another kamikaze near KyÅ«shÅ« on May 11, 1945. ... “Cherry Blossom” redirects here. ... Hitodama (人魂) is the term for a ghost-like creature in Japanese mythology. ... Taira (å¹³) is a Japanese surname. ... The Battle of Dan-no-ura, more commonly known as Dan-no-ura no Tatakai (壇ノ浦の戦い), was a major sea battle of the Genpei War, occurring at Dan_no_ura, in the Shimonoseki Strait off the southern tip of Honshu. ...

A particularly ironic moment(sardonic, even) occurs at the end of the film when we see the phonograph record that is put on the machine to play. It is a Victor record, and it is playing "Home Sweet Home."


Appropriately aged children were cast in the roles of Seita and Setsuko, however at first, producers felt the five-year-old girl portraying Setsuko was too young. Because of her age, instead of completing the animation first and recording her voice to run parallel with the animation as with other characters in the film, they recorded her dialogue first and completed the animation afterward. The animators were not used to this way of working, which is why her lips are hardly seen.

Live-action version

Live-action version of Grave of the Fireflies.
Live-action version of Grave of the Fireflies.

NTV in Japan produced a live-action version of Grave of the Fireflies, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The movie aired on November 1, 2005. Like the anime, the live-action version of Grave of the Fireflies focuses on two siblings struggling to survive the final days of the war in Kobe, Japan. Unlike the animated version, it tells the story from the point of view of their aunt and deals with the issue of how the war-time environment could change a kind lady to a cold-blooded demon. It stars Japanese celebrity and actress Nanako Matsushima as the aunt. The movie is approximately 2 hours and 28 minutes long. Image File history File linksMetadata Livefireflies. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Livefireflies. ... Nippon Television Tower (headquarters) in Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan Nippon Television Network Corporation ) (TYO: 9404 ) is a television network in Shiodome area of Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan owned by the Yomiuri Shimbun. ... is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Port Tower at night Kōbe (Japanese: 神戸市; -shi) is a city in Japan, located on the island of Honshu. ... Nanako Matsushima Matsushima Nanako) (born October 13, 1973) is a Japanese actress and model. ...


Its initial theatrical release in Japan was accompanied by Hayao Miyazaki's much more lighthearted My Neighbor Totoro as a double feature. In commercial terms, the theatrical release was a failure. While the two movie were marketed toward children and their parents, the extremely depressing nature of Grave of the Fireflies turned away most audiences. The release of the film in South Korea was delayed indefinitely because authorities feared it would be thought of as justification for Japan's role in World War II. Hayao Miyazaki ) (born January 5, 1941 in Tokyo, Japan) is the prominent director of many popular animated feature films. ... My Neighbor Totoro ), or My Neighbour Totoro on UK DVD box titles, is a 1988 film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. ...

Grave of the Fireflies was released in the U.S. by Central Park Media in a two-disc set. The first disc contains the film uncut in both an English dub and the original Japanese with English subtitles as well as the film's storyboards. The second disc contains several extras, including a retrospective on the author of the original book, an interview with Director Isao Takahata, and an interview of well-known critic Roger Ebert, who has expressed his admiration for the film on several occasions. Central Park Media is a distributor of East Asian cinema, television, and comics. ... Roger Joseph Ebert (born June 18, 1942) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic. ...

English cast

A pseudonym (Greek: , pseudo + -onym: false name) is an artificial, fictitious name, also known as an alias, used by an individual as an alternative to a persons legal name. ... Rhodochrosite from Sweet Home Mine, Alma, Colorado, USA Pink is the most common color of Rhodochrosite. ... Veronica Taylor (born April 9, 1978) is an American voice actress. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Dan Green (born February 7, 1975 in San Rafael, California, USA), also credited as Jay Snyder, is an American voice actor who provided the voices of many characters in multiple cartoons and anime shows such as Pokémon and the Yu-Gi-Oh! second series anime (Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel...

See also

  • Sakuma drops, the hard candy eaten by the children in the movie, are still sold in Japan. Setsuko is occasionally featured on the front of the tin.

A tin can of Sakuma drops (reproduction) Sakuma drops ) are a hard candy from Japan. ...


  1. ^ Grave of the Fireflies (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia. Accessed 2007-06-20.
  2. ^ Roger Ebert (March 19, 2000). Grave of the Fireflies (1988). rogerebert.com. Retrieved on December 26, 2006.
  3. ^ Daniel Etherington. Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru No Haka). Channel 4 (UK). Retrieved on August 24, 2007.

This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 171st day of the year (172nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, and video games. ... The Japanese Movie Database ), commonly referred to as JMDB, is an online database of information about Japanese movies, actors, and production crew personnel. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 200th day of the year (201st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

 v  d  e 
Studio Ghibli films
Pre Ghibli films

Hols: Prince of the Sun (1968) • Panda! Go, Panda! (1972) • Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro (1979) • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) Studio Ghibli, Inc. ... Panda! Go Panda! is a 1972 Japanese anime written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Isao Takahata, predating Studio Ghibli. ... Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro ) is a 1979 anime film co-written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki; it is one of the master thief Lupin III movies. ... Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind ) is a 1984 film by Japanese writer, illustrator, and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, based on his manga of the same name. ...

Ghibli films

Castle in the Sky (1986) • My Neighbor Totoro (1988) • Grave of the Fireflies (1988) • Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) • Only Yesterday (1991) • Porco Rosso (1992) • I Can Hear the Sea (1993) • Pom Poko (1994) • Whisper of the Heart (1995) • Princess Mononoke (1997) • My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999) • Spirited Away (2001) • The Cat Returns (2002) • Howl's Moving Castle (2004) • Tales from Earthsea (2006) • Ponyo on a Cliff (2008)
Laputa: Castle in the Sky ) (re-titled Castle in the Sky for release in the United States) is a film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, released in 1986. ... My Neighbor Totoro ), or My Neighbour Totoro on UK DVD box titles, is a 1988 film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. ... Kikis Delivery Service (, Witchs Delivery Service) is a 1989 anime film, produced, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki . ... Only Yesterday , meaning Memories Like Falling Teardrops (more literally, Memories Like Falling Rain Drops) is sixth film by critically acclaimed director Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) and produced by Studio Ghibli. ... Porco Rosso , lit. ... I Can Hear the Sea, also known (offically) as Ocean Waves, is a Television Movie Anime made by Studio Ghibli. ... Pom Poko (平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ; Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko, Heisei-era Raccoon Dog War Pom Poko) (1994) is an anime (Japanese animation) film written and directed by Takahata Isao at Studio Ghibli. ... Whisper of the Heart , literally If You Listen Closely) is the ninth anime feature film produced by Studio Ghibli, and a manga by Aoi Hiiragi on which it was based. ... Princess Mononoke ) is a Japanese animated film by Hayao Miyazaki that was first released in Japan on July 12, 1997 and in the United States on October 29, 1999 in select cities and on November 26, 1999. ... My Neighbors the Yamadas was directed by Isao Takahata and was released by Studio Ghibli in 1999. ... Spirited Away, originally known in Japan as Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi ), is an Academy Award winning 2001 film by the Japanese anime studio Studio Ghibli, written and directed by famed animator Hayao Miyazaki. ... The Cat Returns , lit. ... Howls Moving Castle ) is an Academy Award-nominated Japanese animated fantasy film, based on Diana Wynne Jones novel of the same name, and directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. ... Tales from Earthsea , loosely Geds War Chronicles) is a feature anime film from Studio Ghibli, released in Japan on July 29, 2006,[1] to be distributed in the USA by Walt Disney Pictures and in Australia by Madman Entertainment. ... This article or section seems to describe future events as if they have already occurred. ...

Studio Ghibli shorts

Nandarou (1992) • On Your Mark (1995) • Ghiblies (2000) • Ghiblies Episode II (2002) • Mei and the Kittenbus (2003) • The Night of Taneyamagahara (2006) • Mizugumo Monmon (2006) • Iblard Jikan (2007) • The two policemen drive the winged girl to safety. ... Mei and the Kittenbus ) is a short sequel to the 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro from Studio Ghibli. ... Cover of Taneyamagahara no Yoru DVD. The Night of Taneyamagahara ) is an anime short film directed by Kazuo Oga and released by Studio Ghibli. ... Mizugumo Monmon (or Water Spider Monmon) is a short animated film produced by the famed animé studio Studio Ghibli. ... Iblard Jikan ) is a Japanese animation by Studio Ghibli, released in Japan on DVD and Blu-ray disc on July 4, 2007 as part of the Ghibli ga Ippai Collection. ...

See also

Ghibli Museum Ghibli Museum, Mitaka A life-size model of a robot from the animation Castle in the Sky on top of the Ghibli Museum Ghibli Museum is a commercial museum showing off the Japanese anime work of Studio Ghibli. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Hong Kong Cinema - Grave of Fireflies (1988) DVD - Studio Ghibli (657 words)
Grave of Fireflies is also remarkable as it refuses to indulge itself in the violence and terror of actual wartime conflict.
Grave of Fireflies is not about the horror of conflict or a condemnation of US behaviour, but rather a tragic account of the civilain ordeal that war inflicts on a nation.
Grave of Fireflies, is a peerless animation that goes where few have dared to tread.
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