Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)

I only picked this movie because it is ranked 59 in  MAL. I read the synopsis and I knew that this movie is about war. Considering what had happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in world war 2, I expected to find a lot of gore and corpses, portraying the horror of the war. I was surprised to see that this movie isn’t about showing us the horror of the war. It is about two kids trying to live ‘normally’ in the middle of all the chaos.


At the beginning of the movie, we see a boy dying. His spirit meets with his little sister and together they go back and watch everything that had happened to them during their lives. The boy’s name is Seita and his sister’s name is Setsuko.

Seita's death

Seita’s death

They lose their mother during a bombing and had to live at their aunt’s home. She didn’t treat them well and it is understandable. She didn’t like taking care of two more kids when the food was so scarce. So she was always yelling at them and trying to find fault with what they did. She didn’t even feed them the same way she fed her family. Tired, Seita and Setsuko leave her and start living in an abandoned house.

Their aunt's family

Their aunt’s family

Of course, they couldn’t do it for long. All the food they bought was soon consumed and Seita started stealing food from other people. He got caught while he was stealing from a farm. The owner beat him up and took him to the cops. The cop was a nice guy who didn’t think that stealing food when you’re hungry is a big crime. He let Seita go.

He was very badly beaten

He was very badly beaten

Setsuko had some sort of infection. Her back was covered with pink scars and she bled. Seita took her to the hospital but the doctor told him that she just needed more nutritious food. For Seita, it was the hardest thing to do.He didn’t have enough money. And eventually Setsuko died. Seita gave up on his life after her death.He later died of starvation at a train station.

Setsuko's death

Setsuko’s death

At first, I thought it was a bad idea, showing us that Seita and Setsuko are going to die at the very beginning of the movie.Usually when you are watching an anime or a movie and when you already know that a particular character is going to die, you would be ready for it. However in this movie it made all the difference. Whenever you see these two kids playing around, you can’t help but think about how these two happy children are going to be crushed by the war.


This movie makes us feel the pain of war even though they didn’t show many corpses and bombings It is easy to imagine two kids who were left on their own during a war.The characters looked real, especially Setsuko. She was just a little kid who didn’t really know anything. She couldn’t understand what war was or how grave their condition was. Even so she lost her mom, she was forced to run from the bombings and it was the war that took her life. It was hard to stomach.


It is needless to say that I liked this movie. So do I recommend this movie to you? I don’t know. It is up to you. It is not the kind of movie you can enjoy. If you are bad with tragic endings, it is better to avoid this movie. But if you are okay with tragedies, give this movie a try.


See you next time ^^/


8 thoughts on “Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)

  1. I didn’t expect you to write about this movie O.o I’m glad you did, even if I’ve seen it I don’t think I would have been up to the task. People often say that this is the most depressing and sad anime movie ever made. And it does sound very sad, from what you said about it. I haven’t seen any realistic anime about WWII yet, and definitely should.

    Also, do you think this movie is similar to other Ghibli movies (Princess Mononoke, or any other ones you’ve seen)?

    • I’ve watched this movie a while ago but I kept postponing the task of making a post about it -. – I wasn’t sure I would be able to do a good job ^^’
      Give this movie a shot when you find time :3

      I’ve watched Princess Mononoke and Laputa:Castle in the sky. While these two movies are really good, they are very different from Grave of the Fireflies. It is hard to explain. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the movie =)

      • I really like how you wrote the post, I guess you didn’t have to worry :P
        I will =) I wanna find a couple of free evenings to watch all the OVAs and movies that you reviewed.

        Yeah, I expect they are. Not only in a sense that those other films don’t show you kids starving to death. Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke are Miyazaki movies, and Hotaru no Haka is done by Isao Takahata. And I am sure they both have put their personalities in their cartoons, that is another reason why I want to look at Grave of the Fireflies

  2. I’ve been meaning to watch this since I read part of the book it’s based on for a class a few years ago. I guess I now know what I’ll be watching tonight.

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