Grave of the Fireflies - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: A
  • 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 Brian Chen     February 16, 2002
Release Date: October 06, 1998



The Review!
*This review contains some major spoilers. You have been warned.*
I just wanna state that I didn't cry once in this movie. Not once. Nor did my eyes get the least bit watery. Perhaps this is just my own stone-cold fault, as many people have cried during the film.

Grave of the Fireflies is, originally, an autobiographical book called Hotaru no Haka, written by Akiyuki Nosaka, that was later made into a movie. Directed by Isao Takahata, Grave of the Fireflies is a powerful, elegiac movie that displays the destruction of innocence.

Taking place in Kobe, 1945, Grave of the Fireflies is an animated film that tells the story of orphans Seita (fourteen) and Setsuko (four) who must struggle to survive in the harsh World War II. Their father is in the Japanese Navy, and their mother is a victim of a bomb raid by the Americans; Seita stares at her burned body in a hospital. With no place to call home, Seita and Setsuko must live with their cruel aunt who cannot sympathize with their loss. Eventually, they both leave to live in a cave on their own.

Grave of the Fireflies is a strong, intelligent film that displays the effects of war honestly and unbiased. It is a simple story of survival. Though I wish I could say I wrote this myself, Roger Ebert stated in a review that "Their story is told not as melodrama, but simply, directly, in the neorealist tradition. And there is time for silence in it. One of the film's greatest gifts is its patience; shots are held so we can think about them, characters are glimpsed in private moments, atmosphere and nature are given time to establish themselves."

Though not boasting the most vibrant colors, the animation in Grave of the Fireflies is spectacular. The animators purposely used shades of brown, rather than black. My only complaint is that Central Park Media used a VHS source, rather than a pure digital source.

The music, composed by Yoshio Mamiya, is classical and beautiful. However, since Tamahata didn't want any background music to divert attention from the dialogue. Since this was made in 1988, you can't expect much out of your stereo. It only has a 2.0 Digital mix, but it still sounds crisp.

The main menus work flawlessly, with an overall dark theme throughout most of them. I just hate how the cursor responds slowly to the user's input.

There are many scenes in Grave of the Fireflies that can either make you smile or cry. One is when the orphans catch fireflies and light the cave behind a mosquito net. That particular scene made me personally smile, because it is a rare moment when you can actually witness Setsuko being happy in a time of great depression. A scene I thought was very moving is the ending shot where the ghosts of Seita and Setsuko are shown sitting on a bench, overseeing a modern Japan. The scene slowly zooms out and finally goes into credits.

In an interview with Nosaka, critic Dennis H. Fukushima, Jr. quotes, "Having been the sole survivor, he [Nosaka] felt guilty for the death of his sister. While scrounging for food, he had often fed himself first, and his sister second. Her undeniable cause of death was hunger, and it was a sad fact that would haunt Nosaka for years. It prompted him to write about the experience, in hopes of purging the demons tormenting him."

There is no doubt that some will be turned-off by the fact that this is an animation. Yet, if you can keep an open mind, you might be able to learn a lesson or two. Remember, this isn't an animation that happened to be dramatic. It's a drama that happened to be an animation.



Review Equipment
Panasonic DVD-RV65 Player, JBL Speakers, Sony 52" Projection TV

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