Grave of the Fireflies

Viewed – 30 July 2013  Blu-ray

In my on going quest to view as many Studio Ghibli movies as take my interest, this recently released HD version of one of their classic titles caught my interest.  This tells the tale of young Seita and his little sister Setsuko during war time Japan, who following the death of their mother during a devastating air raid, are forced to survive against the elements, scavenging for food and shelter in their quest to survive.


This 1988 feature in many ways reminded me of the much underrated Steven Spielberg movie Empire of the Sun, and to a large extent, British animation When The Wind Blows, with a snap shot of the war shown through the eyes of two children and the impact such a conflict can have on innocent lives.  For a Ghibli movie it’s tone is much more serious and dark, not shying away from some powerful imagery, and as the movie drew to a close, I found it very moving indeed.  Slow in parts, as this is more about a brother and sister than showing the actual conflict, so no battle sequences etc … and mundane moments of cooking, playing, bonding etc dragged on for a bit.  The animation too is of a lesser quality compared to recent Ghibli fair but retains all the character and attention to detail the studio is famous for.  Artistically this is often a very beautiful movie despite the scenes of destroyed villages and death, and finds moments of tranquility and charm (such as the fireflies moments, the seaside sequence) that really captivate.

Tugs at the heart strings and will leave you thinking long after the credits role.  Recommended.

The Blu-ray from Studio Canal is very nice.  The animation and colors are all presented in good detail and look very sharp.  The soundtrack whilst only in 2.0 stereo is presented in both the original Japanese with subtitles or very good English dub.  Extras consist of an interview with director Isao Takahata as well as archive featurettes, trailers, and several  story boards.  We also get an interview with renowned critic Roger Ebert to round out a pretty good package.


(the movie) 4 /5

(the Blu-ray) 4 /5

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