Discs Are Rated
Grave Of The Fireflies
review by Zach B.
Studio: Central Park Media
Japanese Language adapted and directed by Isao
Retail Price: 29.95
Features: Character Gallery, Trailers, Historical
Specs: 1.85:1 Widescreen, English Dub, Japanese
Language, English Captions, Dolby Digital Stereo, Chapter
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
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
(3.5/5, NOT an average)