It’s not every day an anime film reaches to a 97% on the Rotten Tomatoes charts, and to say that this film doesn’t earn it would be a complete and utter lie.
Isao Takahata completely outdid himself in this fantastic look at what war can do to those not directly involved; to those that have no say and to those that can do nothing about it. Released in 1988, this is one of those few movies that are good in any day and age, the message remaining relevant even today.
Grave of the Fireflies : Award Winning Masterpiece
Along with winning a Blue Ribbon Award in 1989, this animated classic has also won two others at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 1994, five years after the initial release.
Winning the Rights of the Child Award and the Animation Jury Award, it’s nothing to scoff at in terms of acclaim. Roger Ebert has even been quoted stating:
…an emotional experience so powerful it forces a rethinking of animation. It belongs on any list of greatest war films ever made.
To get a 4/4 star acclaim from one of the greatest film critics to have lived is no easy task, showing this film has earned its marks rightfully.
Grave of the Fireflies : Adapted from a Novel
Written as a semi-autobiographical novel by the Japanese novelist Akiyuki Nosaka in 1967, it is 21 years older than the anime adaptation.
It was first published in Japan in a monthly literature magazine named Ōru Yomimono, under the publishing company Bungei Shunju and went on to win the Naoki Prize for best popular literature.
Nosaka stated he originally wrote the novel as a personal apology to his deceased younger sister Keiko, who died in Fukui due to malnutrition.
Grave of the Fireflies : The Story
The story itself is more than worth a mention when giving reasons to watch this film. Set during the bombings of Kobe and thereafter in the point of view of 14 year old Seita and his sister Setsuko. Without giving too much away, this is one of those movies that hit home in the heart, ensuring you walk away from it questioning what war truly means for the population of the world.
I can say that it begins in 1945, shortly after the end of WWII as a young boy is seen sitting against a pillar in Sannomiya Station dying of starvation. Later that night, the janitor comes by and looks through his possessions, finding a candy tin containing ashes and some bone he throws the tin into a field where two spirits rise up with the shine of the fireflies.
Absolutely an incredible opening scene for an incredible movie, there’s really no adjective I can use that does this story justice.
Grave of the Fireflies : The Animation
Even for being released in 1988 the animation is beautiful, seemingly flawless. A completely amazing animation team working together on a single project, so trust me you can expect nothing less than this absurdly well done film.
Featuring work from Yoshiji Kigami (Akira, Air), Hideaki Anno (Evangelion, FLCL), Yasuomi Umetsu (Beelzebub, Elfen Lied) and many more than that!
From the firebombing, to the fireflies dancing in the air and the entire atmosphere created by this team, you just have to see it to believe it.
Grave of the Fireflies : The Sounds
From the music, to the voice acting and sound effects, the overall sound of the movie is simply a pleasure for your ears. Michihiro Ito worked the sound effects; whom has also worked in Kanon, One Piece, xxxHOLiC and many, many more.
Yasuo Uragami was the overall Sound Director and worked in Detective Conan, Code Geass, City Hunter, Lupin III and even Gundam Wing (plus way too many more to mention). I have to hand it to Uragami, he definitely put together an A-Grade sounds team!
It’s been said before that if you don’t like this movie, it’s because you have no soul. Not by me, but by a random person who left a review for the movie online.
That isn’t to say I don’t agree with them, it’s a highly moving film.
If you haven’t the desire to check it out yet, then there’s something wrong! You can find it on Amazon and or most local retailers today!