Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
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Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies)
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 mother dies from burns suffered during an American fire-bombing raid, a distant aunt takes them… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"...a well-made and heartfelt drama that's just not as engrossing as it should be."
‑ David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
"We're so used to seeing the human spirit triumph. Here, we're allowed to understand how it might fail."
‑ Charlotte O'Sullivan, This is London
"Isao Takahata's powerful anti-war movie is all the more harrowing for the care we invest in its beautifully drawn children."
‑ Jamie Russell, Total Film
"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."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"An emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"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."
‑ Brian Gibson, Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
"There are magical moments of natural beauty and childish delight, too - which only make the tragedy even more harrowing."
‑ Steve Rose, Guardian
"Japanimation WWII tragedy the saddest. Cartoon. Ever."
‑ Charles Cassady, Common Sense Media
"The wonderful lasting mark of a true artist."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"Isao Takahata's masterpiece is one of the most profound anti-war statements ever brought to cinema"
‑ Christopher Runyon, Movie Mezzanine
"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."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"The idea that "War is Hell" has almost become something of a climatic clichť, but Takahata's film explores this well-worn slogan from new, exciting and harrowing angles."
‑ David Jenkins, Little White Lies
"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."
‑ Freda Freiberg, Senses of Cinema
"Takahata's alternately sweeping and intimate animated feature is a moving depiction of the fates of cast-off children who become casualties of war."
‑ Robert Pardi, TV Guide's Movie Guide
More reviews for Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) on Rotten Tomatoes

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