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95 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Why do fireflies have to die so soon?"
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...
Published on 10 Nov 2008 by @GeekZilla9000

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning this film is seriously sad
This film is beautiful and poignant. It has the usual high quality animation, score and story that come with the Ghibli label, But it will leave you in emotional tatters. Please be warned.
Published 15 months ago by Ross


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95 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Why do fireflies have to die so soon?", 10 Nov 2008
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] (DVD)
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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113 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quietly beautiful, saddening film, 26 Aug 2004
This review is from: Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] (DVD)
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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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appreciate The Futility of War., 22 Jan 2006
This review is from: Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] (DVD)
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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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Why do fireflies have to die so soon?", 27 May 2005
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Emotive Animation I've Seen, 27 Oct 2007
By 
S. Smith "sitorimon" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] (DVD)
"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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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and heartbreaking film, 5 April 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] (DVD)
I watched "Grave of the Fireflies" last night and felt compulsed to write a review (something I rarely do). My knowledge of anime is rather limited with the majority of what I have seen being Miyazaki films. So when I watched this movie I was taken aback to say the least.
I am not going to recount the storyline but it suffices to say that it is a harsh and utterly beleivable one. This is easily the most moving "cartoon" that I have ever seen and in my top five most moving films of all time. NEVER have I cried as much watching a movie...this is powerful stuff. In places in it almost too painful to watch but you persist, tranfixed by the simple beauty of the animation.
This a must see for everyone, not just anime fans. A astounding acheivement that will stay with you for days afterwards. Be warned however this is far from the escapism of Miyazaki and I am not sure if I can face watching this masterpiece a second time.
A beautiful, searing and occasionally magical film which I recommend highly, albeit with a sad heart.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made, 3 Sep 2004
This review is from: Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] (DVD)
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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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad, brutally honest, but beautiful film - A MUST SEE, 7 Mar 2004
Forget this is an animation - this isn't a cheesy cartooon. Instead it's a powerful, profoundly moving, film that will play with your emoptions and is guaranteed to have you in tears by the end. It's based on a true story and presents World War 2 from the perspective of 2 Jaopanese children. Despite what you might expect, there's no anti-American propaganda, but instead it shows the utter futility and pointlessness of war as seen through the innocent eyes of children. The most beautiful film I have ever had the privelige to watch.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 STARS!! THE BEST FILM THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN, 6 July 2004
By 
Carlos Casas Escribano "dj moro" (VALENCIA, SPAIN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
(I'm sorry but my english is not very good.)
I've seen this film 3 days ago, and now i continue thinking about the story of the two children.
I love this film. I think that should be obligatory to view at school.
I felt love, happy, sad and pain when i saw the movie.
I don't want explain many things of the film, because is better than you see it without knows that occurs.
Only i tell you that I have NEVER cried so many like in this movie.
You must to see it!!!!!!!!
pd=I don't understand how this film has taken a long time in coming to EUROPE. It's made in the year 1988. It's unjust!!
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every summer we watch this film on TV in Japan, 16 Sep 2006
This review is from: Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] (DVD)
EVERY summer we watch this film on TV in Japan, adults, students, old folks, kids, everybody, because we do not want to forget the WW2. Every time when I watch this film, I cry, but I feel satisfied that I watched, and make me to think someting deeply, in many ways, each time is different. This film is very sad one, compared to Totoro, and I do not recommend you to watch this film when you are not happy/ready, but at the same time, it is the right time for you to give you some strength. My grandparents, and my mother, who had experienced WW2 in Japan, they say it was worse than the film. To me, it's is still enough! My mother was a little girl so she does not remember most of it, but she remembers she once had lost her mother during an air raid on a city, but luckily they both found each other later. This film is more than anime, surely it gives you something for your life. For adults? yes. For kids, yes, even they don't understand or gets bored, but if you make a time to sit down with your kids to watch the film, and hold their hands, they will catch something from the film, I think, as I did when I was younger. No words needed to them. Then if they ask you questions, and when you are not sure anything about the WW2 in Japan, it is ok, just be honest and tell them, "I don't know, and I'm not sure, but this could have happened anywhere in the world."
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Grave of the Fireflies [DVD]
Grave of the Fireflies [DVD] by Yoshio Mamiya (DVD - 2007)
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