ByRosalyn Lim 林惠美, writer at
I love Moviepilot (*ノ▽ノ) ~★ Review, Quiz & Everything Movie ★ Find me on Google+, Instagram & Facebook ♥
Rosalyn Lim 林惠美

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) at a glance

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is a drama, war-themed animated feature film directed by Isao Takahata. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka, this film has garnered critical acclaim from film critics including the late prominent and influential American film critic Roger Ebert who has said it belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made as well as listed it in his "Great Movies" which not many animated features made it to the list.

Update: Read All Studio Ghibli Movie Review Here!

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Trailer

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Synopsis

This haunting Japanese anime tells the story of two children, 14-year old Seita and his four-year old sister Setsuko, who are struggling to survive in 1940s war-torn Japan where bombings by American warplanes and napalm attacks are an almost daily occurrence. When their mother is killed in an air raid and the fate of their Naval officer father remains unknown, the children are left to fend for themselves.

After a brief and uncomfortable stay with a cold and distant aunt, who makes it clear that she doesn't want to be burdened with them, they left and set up home in an abandoned bomb shelter. For a while they find some happiness living on their own with a field of almost magical fireflies to keep them company. But as the rationing of food grows more unbearable, Seita finds it an increasing struggle to keep himself and Setsuko alive.

[ Follow Rosalyn on Moviepilot ]

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Review

Fireflies in the children's new home.
Fireflies in the children's new home.

Honestly, I do not know how to describe Grave of the Fireflies (1988) in words but this film is so... innocent yet depressing. Although it is a lesser known film from Studio Ghibli and is released as double feature in parallel with My Neighbor Totoro (1988), this film is undeniably beautiful and powerful.


I usually don't write about my favorite character in my Moviepilot reviews but I really love this girl Setsuko and I am saddened by the tragedy upon them. Setsuko is such a sweet, lovely and strong four-years old girl. She is also quite obedient and mature for her age. She wouldn't throw tantrum even though there are things that she never liked or enjoyed but she bears with them instead. It is so heartbreaking to watch this and couldn't do anything at all .... T-T

Seita and Setsuko
Seita and Setsuko

This film can be interpreted in various ways but it certainly is able to leave audiences speechless and/or tear their eyes out. Usually both, though, as this film is one of the saddest films ever made!

Heartbreaking story of a tragedy during wartime.
Heartbreaking story of a tragedy during wartime.

With superb cinematography, brilliantly utilizes colors and depicts simple joy of life as well as tragedy in high precision, Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is truly one of the most heartbreaking films ever made!!

At the farm.
At the farm.

All in all, please, consider watching this tragic film as it has the ability to change you in some ways! It shouts never underestimate the power of story telling through animation and the importance of film making!

PS. This is definitely one of my top favorite animated feature. No further review needed.

Who will like this?

You. Must. Watch. This.

And, this is the only film I rate 10 stars on IMDb.

PS. Check out all my Studio Ghibli movie reviews that are available on Moviepilot! Stay tune for more animated features!

Other Movie Reviews (from the same studio)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Castle in the Sky (1986)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Only Yesterday (1991)
Porco Rosso (1992)
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 (2008)
The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
The Wind Rises (2013)
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)
When Marnie Was There (2014)

Details of the movie

Director: Isao Takahata
Producer: Toru Hara
Story: Akiyuki Nosaka
Screenplay: Isao Takahata
Cinematography: Nobuo Koyama
Music: Michio Mamiya
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Starring: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi
Full Credit: [IMDb]
Distributor: Toho
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genre: Anime Drama War
Running time: 89 mins
Budget: Not sure.
Box office: Not sure.

Official website(s)

Original post from Rosalyn's Blog.
This article is a part of Rosalyn's Animated Movie Marathon.
Rosalyn can be contacted via email and facebook.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Poster


Latest from our Creators