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Grave Of The Fireflies

review by Zach B.


Not Rated

Studio: Central Park Media

Japanese Language adapted and directed by Isao Takahata


Retail Price: 29.95

Features: Character Gallery, Trailers, Historical Background information

Specs: 1.85:1 Widescreen, English Dub, Japanese Language, English Captions, Dolby Digital Stereo, Chapter Search


Most people stereotype Japanese animation with schoolgirls, pornography and those huge eyes which light up. However, not all animé is like that. "Grave of the Fireflies" is a perfect example. Directed and written by famous Japanese visionary Isao Takahata, the other half of the legendary Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro), "Grave of the Fireflies" is an incredibly profound and moving film about the effects of war on the innocence. Based on a true story by a famous Japanese writer, "Grave of the Fireflies" provokes you to think about how cruel war can be.

The film opens with the spirit of a dead fourteen year old boy, Seita, and that he is dead. A janitor, cleaining a train station, notices a candy container and throws it outside. There, we meet Seita, and his four year old little sister, Setsuko, who is also a spirit and dead. We then flashback to a bomb attack on their city, where their mother is killed during an air raid. The only family they have is their cruel aunt, who favors her own family and makes like the two orphans or nothing. Not happy there, Seita and Setsuko find an abandoned bomb shelter in the countryside. Yet with little food, they try their best to live normally, but survival becomes harder and harder...

This film, especially the heartbreaking finale, moved me to tears. Some call this the "Schindler's List" of animation. I couldn't agree more. Though the two movies are in different settings, they take place during World War II and show the hardships people had to face and suffer. Takahata is a very good director, and this put his name on the map. The screenplay is very good, and the haunting score just adds to the sadness of the film. This is a movie which should be in everyone's collection, to remind us of the hardships of war, and how the past should never be forgotten.


A very good, widescreen transfer. This movie has so much visual beauty to marvel at, and you can see it so perfectly and clear, you'll get lost in this world of majestic beauty. The colors are really solid and natural, it's somewhat like a moving painting. I did notice an artifact now and then, but nothing to get into the way. A top notch transfer, which this film really deserves on all accounts.


The film has an English dub, and the original Japanese track, each with subtitles and in Dolby Digital stereo. The dub is a very good dub and seems to remain faithful to the original Japanese, and the mouths match really good. The stereo has some nice, loud sounds, and all dialogue is clear. Nicely done as well, though I wish a 5.1 track could have been created, to bring that haunting score to life.

I was not expecting so much in this area, this being a dub and not from the original studio itself, but there are some nice things. A character gallery, which has character profiles and their characteristics brings you a little more closer to the movie, as well as a Historical Background section, which tells a little about the movie's appearence and about the war. Very informative and well written. To top it off, some trailers for other Central Park Media titles.


A wonderful and moving film, "Grave of the Fireflies" is a must have film for anyone's DVD collection. It really gets you thinking about those who suffer during war. While some storyboards or an interview with Takahata would have been nice, the extras are decent and the video and sound are nice. Very nice presentation for a very good film.

(5/5, NOT included in final score)




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