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Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies)

Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) (1988)



Average Rating: 9/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 1

An achingly sad anti-war film, Grave of the Fireflies is one of Studio Ghibli's most profoundly beautiful, haunting works.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 0

An achingly sad anti-war film, Grave of the Fireflies is one of Studio Ghibli's most profoundly beautiful, haunting works.



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Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 65,648

My Rating

Movie Info

Grave of the Fireflies opens on an evening in 1945, after Japan's surrender at the end of World War II; and in a train station, the young Seita dies alone. The rest of the movie tells us, in flashback, how things have come to this. Seita and Setsuko are two young Japanese children growing up in the waning days of World War II. Much to Seita's pride, their father is in the Japanese navy, and they live fairly content lives in Kobe despite rationing and the other privations of war. When their

Oct 6, 1998

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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (1) | DVD (17)

Writer-director Isao Takahata, a frequent collaborator of Miyazaki's at Studio Ghibli, adapted a partly autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, and his handling of the tragic story is masterfully understated.

July 14, 2002 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (2)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Isao Takahata's masterpiece is one of the most profound anti-war statements ever brought to cinema

February 20, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

...a well-made and heartfelt drama that's just not as engrossing as it should be.

November 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Such odd hopefulness, flitting around a child, mixed with the overwhelmingly sad, pervades Isao Takahata's film. And all around Seita and Setsuko, nature, in the face of human destruction and tragedy, persists in its beauty.

July 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

The stylised images suit the simplicity and gravity of a grim story of love, sacrifice and survival in the face of adult indifference and cruelty.

May 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

We're so used to seeing the human spirit triumph. Here, we're allowed to understand how it might fail.

May 24, 2013 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

There are magical moments of natural beauty and childish delight, too - which only make the tragedy even more harrowing.

May 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

The idea that "War is Hell" has almost become something of a climatic cliché, but Takahata's film explores this well-worn slogan from new, exciting and harrowing angles.

May 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Isao Takahata's powerful anti-war movie is all the more harrowing for the care we invest in its beautifully drawn children.

May 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Japanimation WWII tragedy the saddest. Cartoon. Ever.

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

The ephemeral fireflies, which fascinate the children and accompany them everywhere, become a potent and lyrical symbol of the fragility, brevity and beauty of life.

July 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Senses of Cinema
Senses of Cinema

Quivers with every kind of wracking emotion: rage, sorrow, despair, fatigue, and in the end, a tiny measure of hope that perhaps there's something better than this in the next world.

May 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The wonderful lasting mark of a true artist.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Takahata's alternately sweeping and intimate animated feature is a moving depiction of the fates of cast-off children who become casualties of war.

September 3, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Even though it's not exactly easy to watch the protracted deaths of two children, this is not only one of the greatest anime ever, but also an important (anti-) war film. A moving masterpiece.

September 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Very simply the gentlest and most touching war-related film I've ever seen.

April 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Um retrato sem concessões do horror da guerra e de suas conseqüências não apenas sobre a sociedade, mas sobre indivíduos comuns. Emocionalmente devastador.

July 9, 2006
Cinema em Cena

... a beautiful lament and a moving tribute to the people we rarely consider when we think about World War 2: those Japanese who suffered for the crimes of their leaders.

January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

Incredibly moving. The ultimate tear-jerker.

March 12, 2004
Juicy Cerebellum

A very moving, but depressing movie.

January 28, 2004 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

One of the most devastating anti-war films ever made, animated or otherwise.

October 15, 2003 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies)

A devastating animation that never holds back in its haunting depiction of the horrors of war and the people whose lives are destroyed by it, and the result simply ranks among one of the most powerful anti-war films to be ever experienced - animated or not.
October 27, 2013

Super Reviewer

One of the saddest films of all time and one of the greatest anti-war films ever created (even if it wasn't director Isao Takahata's exact intentions but that is a different discussion entirely and is irrelevant to this review). A harrowing tale of innocent children caught up in the terribly indifferent effects of wartime. This is no heroic tale of differing ideologies and factions, this is a very emotionally-taxing tale set in the waning days of WWII that will leave you feeling depressed as a brother and sister are physically and emotionally worn-away by the cold world that deprived them of their parents. Be sure to have plenty of tissues upon viewing this tear-jerking masterpiece. Can't believe this was released together with 'My Neighbor Totoro' (practically the happiest movie ever made). Talk about a bi-polar double-bill.
July 20, 2013
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

without question one of the saddest films i have ever seen. its films like this that have contributed so much to my near pacifism. the world is so dark, and life is so fragile, and often times its the most innocent among us that suffer the most. incredibly moving.
December 28, 2012
danny d

Super Reviewer

Saying that its sad is such a broad term; a better way to describe the movie is emotional and overbearing at times.The story takes large dark turns that it could be compared to dramas by Haneke and Von Trier. The ending strikes a nerve at the end and will leave you feeling empty for a while. It builds up hope and slowly crushes it until the end. A great achievement in animation!
September 5, 2012
paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

    1. Setsuko: I've been having diarrhea.
    – Submitted by Kevin R (2 years ago)
    1. Seita: [about Setsuko] She never woke up again.
    – Submitted by Shashwat D (3 years ago)
    1. Setsuko: Why must firefiles die so young?
    – Submitted by alicia n (3 years ago)
    1. Setsuko: Why must fireflies die so young?
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Seita: September 21, 1945... that was the night I died.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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