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4.7 out of 5 stars222
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 22 January 2006
I personally have never seen a film quite like this one. Without wanting to sound overly emotional, this is absolutely gut wrenchingly beautiful and will have the watcher in tears of joy and tears of sadness on innumerable occasions from start to finish.
The film itself deals with the facts of war and doesn't get bogged down by any hint of a political agenda; it is about individual, innocent lives effected/caught up in the theatre of war. Quite simply it is a story about a brave young lad (Seita) who is forced (for whatever reason) to care and do the best he can for his enchanting little sister (Setsuko); share with them their losses, hopes, fears and as a previous reviewer put it appreciate the futility of war. The futility of war permeates throughout the movie, quite frankly when I think of this film I feel deep anger and deep sadness and with it a sprinkle of affection towards the two heroes Seita and Setsuko....not many films have been able render these fellings in me quite like 'Grave of the Fireflies'.
Highly recommended.
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on 19 December 2010
If you think all animated films are cartoons, then this will be the film to change your mind, this is a deeply touching movie that happens to be animated, this film is closer to Shindler's list than to any Disney film, also if you are expecting a 'Spirited Away [DVD]' or a 'Kiki's Delivery Service [DVD]' then you will be surprised, this is not a fantastical journey, there are no talking cats, or troublesome witches, this is a serious drama with a real thought provoking message.

I have to say that this has got to be the most emotional film I have EVER seen! Never has a film made me fill up quite this much, not even when I watched Watership down in primary school, when I was eight.

I am at a loss... I was So drained from watching this! This made a 30yo skinhead 'bloke' cry, I had to really force my self to watch the end of this film not because it has any faults in the style or plot, but rather from the outset you know what is going to happen and I realised that the story had drawn me in so deeply and I knew what it was going to do to me...

Glad I did watch to the end, it is rare to find a film of this genre that can move so many people to tears, it is a film that can really tug at your emotional chords with such precision and vigour, I really don't think I will be able to see fruit sweets again without flashbacks!
An absolutely astounding film.

I may suggest that perhaps you rent this title, unless like me you like lending DVD's out, I think a lot of the 5-star reviewers would also agree, that this is not a film I can see me ever watching again, like I said this is one of the greatest films I have ever watched, but it was so good, that the film will always be with me, I will never be able to forget Seito and Sweet Setsuko, the little sister I think we all wished we had... But this is a must see for any fan of cinema, not just Ghibli, this is a master class in cinema, in drawing your audience in, making them empathise with the characters and ultimately making them genuinely feel something.

This film has changed me, I don't know how, but it has, I think it has put a lot in my life in to perspective, and 2 months on from seeing this film I have just shed another tear for it.

This really is a must see/buy, it is dubbed which I know is important to some people, but I think seeing this in its original Japanese added something for me, I think a number of people would disagree with me, but few would say that you shouldn't watch it. Do note though that if I were you I would make sure I had a comedy film to follow this, or at least a more light hearted film, as you do not want to end your night with the emotions that this will draw from you.
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on 26 August 2004
This is a film apart from any other Ghibli film I have seen. Where as Miyazaki films (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) are fantastical, this film is very much grounded in the gritty reality of our resent past. Set at the end of World War II it is the harrowing story of 2 children facing life in a war-ravaged Japan. Make no mistake, this film is not typical Ghibli escapism. The grim realities of war are never sugar coated, this film pulls no punches.
The characters are just as grounded in reality as the setting. There is no idealised hero here. Seita is a boy struggling with responsibilities no child should face, he strives to look after his sister as best he can in a situation beyond his means to control. This film is all the more powerful because of the real characters. The cold reaction of people to the children's misfortune is uncomfortable to watch, but probably more real than we would care to admit.
Even with such a grim subject matter it still manages to be beautiful and even magical in places. I'd be lying if I said this was my favourite Ghibli film, but very few animated films have emotionally affected me as much as Grave of the Fireflies.
Recommended with a sad heart.
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After seeing the 'ghosts' at the beginning of the film, you assume that effectively knowing the end is going to spoil it in some way - but it doesn't. The film fills in the gaps and shows us the very human story of two siblings fighting for survival during the Second World War in Japan.

This isn't a film for very young children as the message would probably get lost, and some of the imagery might be a bit distressing - it's meant to be. This is a film with a simple story, but dealing with complex relationships and politics. You long for young Seita and his sister Setsuko to triumph in a situation beyond desperate, and though many of the scenes are very emotional - it doesn't stop them from being tremendously beautiful.

This is one of only a handful of films I've seen set during a world war where the 'other side' has been shown. It's important to remember that there is suffering on all sides during a war, and that children often suffer the most. The two children at the focus of this film could be of any nationality - and that's what is important.

I had to force myself to watch this through to the end - not because it's a bad film - but because it's so good. It really affected me emotionally and I watched most of the last thirty minutes with tears in my eyes. The little girl really reminded me of my youngest daughter and even now when I think back to the film I start to feel quite emotional. It's not often that a film hits you like this one can - this isn't one of the best films I've seen recently, this is one of the best films I've seen ever. The moment I realised what was in the Fruit Drops tin which was tossed aside as rubbish at the beginning of the film, my heart sank and I burst into tears.

In a nutshell: The waste and futility of war has never been to beautifully told. The horrors of international politics contrast against the innocence of two children who lose their mum and have to fend for themselves in a world with quickly diminishing resources . The sad thing is that this isn't entirely fiction, it is based on an autobiographical account of a young man's experience during the war. Even if it were fiction, it probably sounds the echos of hundreds of individual true stories, each as heart-breaking as this one. This is without doubt an unsung classic cinematic work of the twentieth century that deserves to be watched by everyone.
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on 27 May 2005
I am not an anime expert or anything close to that; I have only watched a couple of series and another couple of movies in this genre. Maybe that is why in my mind I had classified the genre as one that is based mainly on action, usually involving swords or guns and vast amounts of blood. This is one of the main reasons why my curiosity was highly piqued when people recommended this movie to me and I read about its topic. After watching it I was instantly convinced that I had just experienced one of the most successful attempts at conveying the consequences war has on innocent people. In this case the effect is magnified by the fact that the sufferers are children.
In the year 1945, close to the end of World War II, Japan is being bombarded through air raids. A young boy named Senta and his little sister, Setsuko, have to run to the shelter and in the process they get separated from their mother. When they finally find her again she is seriously injured and does not last long in her attempts at survival. Now the kids only have an aunt to support them and guide them through the turmoil. But the grownup performs this task with little enthusiasm, so the children are basically left to survive by themselves. That is when we get to see the power of love between the siblings, and the contrast with the disinterest of the rest of the people in the village regarding the well-being of the kids.
I am sure that this is one of the great masterpieces of the genre, since it presents a whole array of emotions, running from despair to hope without limits, through its excellent script and crafty graphics. In my case it will probably serve as a benchmark to rate all other future anime dramas in the future. If you have never watched any anime and are trying to decide where to start, I guarantee you that there is no better place than right here!
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VINE VOICEon 27 October 2007
"Grave of the Fireflies" is a masterpiece of cinema. You rarely get real actors to portray a story with such emotion letalone an animation.

The story involves two children who become homeless and left to fend for themselves when Japan gets bombed heavily in World War II. Based on the writers on experiences, we follow the them as their plight becomes more and more desperate until it reaches its climax.

Rarely does animation get given such an adult treatment in its content and its a joy to watch. While the animation is not going to match Ghibli's later films, nothing has yet surpassed the feelings the end of the film left me with.

A true masterpiece and a film all war mongers should watch before they set off to war.
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on 29 December 2008
I am so glad that I have read the other reviews written about this film because it has made me realise that there are other people out there who have been as profoundly affected by it as myself. I actually feared for my sanity for the way I felt after I had watched this film, I could not sleep at all that night and just couldn't stop going over and over it in my mind for days, I cannot believe that a simple film could affect anyone the way it does. I feel rather puzzled and sad by the people who do not rate this film, or who are not whole-heartedly moved to the core by it, I feel they are missing the whole sad point. I, like other people who have written the reviews, have now got my copy of this film firmly sitting on my shelf and do not think I can ever watch it again, but I need it to be there in the event that I can bring myself to watch it again. I shall also buy a copy for each of my family and friends when their birthdays come around, as I feel that every single person should watch it, in my opinion it will change your life.
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on 3 September 2004
This is obligatory viewing for anyone who thinks that cartoons are only for children. Based on a real story, the movie could easily have been shot as a standard feature with real actors but the animations add an extra dimension and depth to the feelings that seep through the movie that would be impossible to capture on a camera. It would be like reading the lyrics to a song without listening to the music.

This is the story of the two Japanese children during the period of the Tokyo air raids when the allies were on the counter-offensive and the hardships they face. But there's so much more than that in the film. It is a testament to the horrors of war, to human insanity, fanaticism, cynicism, compassion, hope, spirituality. The last 20 minutes of the film deliver such an emotional punch that it is nearly impossible to hold back the tears. Once the film is finished, go back and watch the first 5 minutes of the introduction again since it is there that the story essentially concludes.

The internet movie database rates this film 8.3/10 putting it in the top #200 films of all time. I gave it a 10/10.
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on 21 January 2006
Grave of the Fireflies was originally released in 1988 in Japan and only recently in the UK. The film was animated by the wonderful Studio Ghibli, who also animated Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.
This film... it is not about the politics of war, or where to lay the blame. Instead, it pays a tribute to the people - especially the children - whose lives were devastated, and lost, by the conflict between the US and Japan in WWII.
The story is unconventional in that it begins at the end, telling the story of a young boy, Seita, and his baby sister Seitsuko. After their mother dies in a raid, he must help them both survive.
If this film doesn't affect you in a profound way, I don't believe you. It's one of the few war films that is in my top list of films, ever.
As a side note - if you're studying, well, really any war in the 1900's, watching this provides an interesting standing point, as, while I'm not saying the curriculum is biased, it tends to focus more on the US' affairs. Watching from the viewpoint of an Asian country might help you with a more rounded-out view of any of the conflicts between the countries in South-East Asia and the US.
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on 3 October 2007
Every now and again in life you find a film that genuinely deserves to be described as "a true work of art". This is one of those films.

I, like a lot of other people who've seen this film, watched it simply because I love Ghibli movies, not really knowing a great deal about the plot and expecting another magical journey into a fantasy world. I certainly wasn't expecting to be reduced to tears by the end of it (I, by the way, am a 24 year old man who hasn't cried watching a movie since I was a small child and Littlefoot's mum died in The Land before time!)

The mark of a truly great movie is that it has a lasting impression on you, it leaves you feeling something, and maybe changes the way you think about things or see the world. Well its been about 3 months since I watched this film, and even now thinking about it too much gives me a lump in my throat. For the first week after watching it it popped into my head atleast once a day.

It's not easy viewing, you probably don't really want to watch something that'll make you cry (and believe me unless you have a stone cold block of ice for a heart you WILL cry), but it's worth doing, it's something that everyone should be made to watch atleast once. its one of those films where you want to make everyone you know watch it too, due to the impact it had on you.

One of the best films I've ever seen? Easily, top 5 for sure. Will I be watching it again any time soon? Not at all, but I WILL watch it again at some point.

Oh, and it should go without saying but I'll say it anyway: watch it in the original japanese with subs!!!
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