Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Such a heart wrenching tale of two siblings that are possibly innocent victims of the world war. When Setsuko was on her deathbed, I had to look away because even though this is an animated film produced in the 1980s, the visuals are exceptionally stunning. The colour palette consisted of various colours that depicted the glorious evening sky, gloomy subway stations, ruins of a war zone and many more.


But what awed me the most was not the beauty of the film, but, how emotionally invested I was in the two main characters. Like I mentioned before, I could not bear to watch when Setsuko was breathing her last breath in the cave. I feel so attached to her from the start as the film spent some time showing us how the two siblings played together and enjoyed each others’ company despite being in the middle of a war.


I also partly feel annoyed at Seita for not being able to swallow his pride. His stubbornness and ego made Setsuko a victim of malnutrition. It is almost funny how even though GotF is a war film, but what killed the innocent girl was neither bullets nor bombs. It was simply her brother’s pride.


It was refreshing to see an account of the second world war from a different perspective. Growing up, the history textbooks exposed me to how Singapore and other smaller countries were the victims and how Japan was the conqueror – taking countries little by little. It is different in GotF, the film shows a different side of Japan – a side where the ugliness in humanity gets revealed. The sibling’s aunt welcomed them with open arms initially but when put under pressure through the limited rations, her attitude changed, eventually causing Seita and Setsuko to move out. As important as families are in Asian cultures, war does not stop the aunt from truly revealing her true feelings. Perhaps it is each person for himself in times of difficulty.



One thought on “Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

  1. It is really interesting to see how people are so affected by this heart-wrenching story even though this film was animated. I agree with how beautiful it looked – almost like a watercolor painting! The paragraph where you mentioned how the two siblings managed to find a moment of bliss by playing with each other was incredibly sad – for a moment they were just at peace in each other’s company, not bothered by the violent atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed the insight you provided on how Setsuko was killed by malnutrition and not by any bullets or bombs. Even though, this was supposedly a ‘war’ film, I think Grave of the Fireflies did a great job in showing the devastating consequences of war.

    Liked by 1 person

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