Hotaru no Haka – Grave of the Fireflies

This post is about two movies based on the same semi autobiographical novel. One live action the other one animated. The novel was first published in 1967 and was written by Akiyuki Nosaka who wrote it for his sister which died of malnutrition in 1945. The story revolves around two siblings near the end of World War 2 in Kobe, Japan. The father is away serving with the Imperial Navy and after loosing their mother during an air raid by US bombers they end up alone. The older brother struggles hard to get himself and his little sister through the miserable times of the final phase of World War 2 in Japan. The story is very sad and heartbreaking, no glorification of war to be seen, no blatant “good” country vs “bad” country, just the struggle of ordinary people and how many of them are corrupted by the incredibly hardships they have to face.

The live action  feature film directed by Taro Hyugaji was released in 2008 and the animated movie by Isao Takahata was released in 1988. Animation work for the Anime was done by cult animation company “Studio Ghibli”. As you probably know “Anime” are huge in Japan, not just for kids. It is incredible how touching an animated movie can be, it left a lasting impression on me when i first saw it. I liked it a lot more than the 2008 version. The 2008 movie is OK but in no way on the same level as the animated movie. While the Anime ranks among the finest anti war movies ever made, i would consider the 2008 production mediocre.  There is a made for TV live action film from 2005 as well, it was released in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2.

The “Sakuma drops” which are an important motif especially in the animated version are still available today (they have been since the Meiji period!). Here is a “Hotaru no Haka” special edition released from time to time, seems the Japanese are second to none when it comes to merchandising 🙂 :

~ by m1pencil on November 3, 2010.

One Response to “Hotaru no Haka – Grave of the Fireflies”

  1. I never seen the live action one, but I believe what you said about anime version being superior. I consider myself a somewhat tough guy but the anime movie got me crying my eyes out.

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