Grave of the Fireflies is regarded by many as not just one of the best Studio Ghibli movies of all time, but one of the best World War II movies of all time too. Released in 1988 and written and directed by Isao Takahata, Grave of the Fireflies is a shining example of why Studio Ghibli is the master of animated storytelling.
How to Download Grave of the Fireflies
You can download or stream the film from a digital platform. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. Check out also other great Studio Ghibli titles such as Spirited Away, Pom Poko, or Princess Mononoke.
The Movie Review
If you have not seen Grave of the Fireflies I will warn you right away that this is a hard-hitting, depressing, and heartbreaking movie. This is a movie that kind of stays with you for a while once the credits roll. However, despite it being dark and awful, I think that they manage to give this a happy ending, but then you start thinking of the hardships that the two main characters went through and you are back to feeling kind of sad.
Grave of the Fireflies is a very powerful movie and it takes place towards the end of World War II. The city of Kobe has been decimated by war and two children, Seita and his sister Setsuko are left orphaned after their mother dies. Their father is in the Navy and he is out at sea so they are left to go and live with their aunt.
Living with their aunt does not work and the two soon find themselves out in the wild, struggling to survive. Seita tries to do all he can to keep his sister and himself alive and also their spirits up, but it is easier said than done. We have a real fight for survival here and it is just brutal to watch, especially as you truly do care for both Seita and Setsuko and really want them to be safe, happy, and fed!
No spoilers here, but things do not go well for the brother and sister at all, it is pretty damn horrific actually, and one of the harder hitting things to happen in a Studio Ghibli movie. However, they do try and end it on a happier note and I applaud them for that, and for a brief moment you are happy, but as I said, you then remember what these poor kids had to go through!
I have to say that Seita is such a great character, arguably one of the best and most memorable Studio Ghibli characters of all time. The movie has been released in the West twice and I think that the voice acting cast in both movies is good, but for me personally, I prefer the 2012 cast, but I would certainly not argue with someone who prefers the 1998 cast.
Visually, Grave of the Fireflies is a very striking movie and they do a great job of showcasing the horrors of World War II. I think that the frail and dirty look of Seita and Setsuko just hit it home even more how brutal this story is. However, the ending is absolutely beautiful and if you can switch it off and just think of the ending, I guess there is a real beauty to the two finding peace at the very end. I also think there is some real beauty to the scene with the fireflies in the shelter too.
There are some movies that I feel everyone needs to see at least once and I would put Grave of the Fireflies into that category. It is not the kind of movie to watch if you want to see something charming and funny, but if you want a deep, engaging, and thought provoking movie, this is certainly that!
- This is legit a perfect 10 movie in every regard
- The two lead characters make you care for them so much
- While the movie is very hard to watch, the art here is fantastic
- This is up there with the greatest animated movies of all time and not just from Studio Ghibli
- This is one movie I would love to see get the 4K treatment at some point
- This is one of the darkest and most brutal of all the Studio Ghibli movies!