Title: Hotaru no Haka
Jap. Kanji: 火垂るの墓
English: Grave of the Fireflies
Genre: Drama, Ghibli, Historical
Companies: Studio Ghibli
-A movie by Hayao Miyazaki-
It's World War II and Japan is under attack.
"Grave of the fireflies" details the sudden transition of two children from being loved and cared for, to two orphans without a family or family comforts.
The movie presents us two characters we really do grow to engage with, and to present to audiences a valid experience of the second world war in the eyes of the Japanese.
Forget about Pearl Harbour for the meantime, and think about the Nuclear Bombings in Japan- Seita (main boy character) and Setsuko (his little sister) just make you wonder how many other Seitas and Setuskos were out there.
Just like most war stories, you always start off with the happy (or at least seemingly peaceful) surroundings. Seita and Setsuko are loved by their mother, and everything seems to go well for them.
Unfortunately the lifestyle dramatically changes when their home is bombed, thus killing their mother. The two siblings have no choice but to move to their aunt's place to at least have some sort of parental guidance.
Things prove to be tough when their aunt is not as pleasant as they thought she would be, since she cheats them of their money, underfeeds Seita and Setsuko, whilst treating her own daughter like royalty. Eventually she forces them out and tells them to go find other family members to stay with.
Seita and Setsuko find a little place (which actually isn't hygienic) to hide from the terrors of war. There, they have some of the best moments: throughout the film there are cuts to the peaceful moments catching fireflies and burying them into the soil.
Setsuko eventually falls sick (from lice and other skin and gastrointestinal problems from unclean water) and Seita is forced to withdraw all the money from the bank (left by their loving mother) to cure his little sister.
The characters were done so well- so typically Miyazaki (if you count that as an adjective). To be fair though, some people don't like Setsuko, or they don't like Seita. It might just personal preferences but I think that they were both structured very well so that you could at least hate or like them throughout the movie and understand them to an extent.
The aunt was terrible- and reminiscent of Cinderella's stepmother. Overall, the character selection was well done to enhance/support the plot.
I've never really been a fan of the style of Miyazaki's animations, but it is high quality nonetheless. The usual round Miyazaki eyes, chubby faces and all other things trademark of Miyazaki are present in this movie.
If you are a fan of the reigning Miyazaki animation, you'd probably rate this higher.
Voice acting, music (7/10)
Unfortunately I had to watch this movie within the evil clasps of English dubbing (yes, I know) so I can't really comment on that without being biased.
The music was pretty good though. There were instances when the silences and only humming of flies mimicked a spooky reality, and at other times, the use of sound really did bring tears brimming to my eyes.
I'm not a fan of depressing movies, but I really have to say that this movie was exceptional to me. The cinematography, the setting, the sounds, and even the sequence of events really did touch me and I really did empaphise with these characters on screen.
It really is quite an enjoyable film. Some people have said things like "Grave of the Fireflies isn't *THAT* sad. I didn't even cry" - it's not about whether or not you cry; it's more whether or not you are touched.
I know I was