Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: B+/B-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: Central Park Media
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 88
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Grave of the Fireflies
Grave of the Fireflies
By Meng Vang
February 16, 2002
Release Date: October 06, 1998
A great movie from master animator Isao Takahata (Only Yesterday, Pom Poko and My Neighbor the Yamada), a great colleague of Hayao Miyazaki. The story is seen through the eyes of two Japanese children through the horrible hardships man's pointless game of war. Having lost their parents and the respect of their aunt, both Seita and Setsuko struggle with the "will to live". Turned their faith away from a society where it cannot even help itself, Seita and Setsuko finally settles in an abandoned bomb shelter. From the beginning till the end, we discover the true "grave of the fireflies".
Because the movie was released in 1988 (interesting that it was showed side by side with Miyazaki's "Tonari no Totoro" - My Neighbor Totoro) so don't expect a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. The dvd consists of two language tracks: the original Japanese and English. Both the Japanese and English soundtrack are plain Dolby Digital 2.0 192 kb/s stereo but from what I can hear, the English soundtrack is totally mono. Though I thought that the stereo mix was rather well done with pro-logic surround turned on, especially the final words from Seita which fills the entire room to give it more of a ghostly effect. The English dubbing isn't that bad either but it's sometimes weak. The English voice actor for Seita doesn't sound convincing enough and of course the voice actor for Setsuko is too weak.
The video on the other hand is more complicated. First of all, the master print used was a "secondary print". What I mean by this is that the print is not the original master but a print that was used for theatrical purposes. How this can be told is by the original "reel marks" that pops up every 15-20 minutes or so. In a lot of secondary print, scratches start appearing in these reel mark places but this is not present on this master. Though there are some scratches and grain on the print perhaps due to the age of the film. One thing that I did noticed was that the theatrical mattes were peaking out of the bottom image during 20:25-20:37. An issue that has talked about were the rainbow effects of that on my player, I only noticed these a few times during the movie, especially on paused play but they're not that distracting when viewed further away so don't be scared. The video runs roughly 4-5mbs/s. The non-anamorphic video is letterboxed roughly 1.7-1.75:1.
The dvd comes with a regular amaray with CPM's original ANIMEDVD label. Instead of having some sort of insert, information is printed on the back of the cover label. In order to see the track listings, you'll have to pull out the cover label, which can be a pain.
The menu is especially a pain at the beginning. With each switch of the options, the player would load. It's just too slow for my taste, somewhat like the "Tenchi - In Love" dvd. Other than that, it's very colorful and well built.
About the extras, there's very little. Character background consists of short scenes of the characters and the background information is only a full-page worth. There are some trailers for other CPM's releases.
What are some things that I didn't like about this dvd release? One thing, the original Japanese title was removed and the entire scene dealing with that had it's framerate reduced to be in synch with the music. Also, the original Japanese credits were removed and only sources the English voice actors/actresses + animation crew misc. I would have wished for an alternate angle.
This was my first anime dvd and to tell you the truth, I can only watch it from time to time. It's one of those great movies that can be watched too many times. Also, it made my mother and sister cried at the end of the movie. Though some may think it's not up with the so-called "mainstream" animes, it is worth checking out. If you have a heart for anime, give "Grave of the Fireflies" a try.
Zenith 27' TV, Sony DVD Player 530D, Aiwa D-50 receiver hooked up with Dolby Digital 5.1 & Dolby Pro-Logic Surround (when necessary)