Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka)

22 Feb

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”.

Live Action Grave of The Fireflies

NTV in Japan produced a live-action version of Grave of the Fireflies, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The movie aired on November 1, 2005. The movie is approximately 2 hours and 28 minutes long. A different live action version of the film was released in Japan on July 5, 2008.

Seita (Ishida Yohsi)
Setsuko / Seita’s sister (Sasaki Mao)
Seita’s aunt (Nanako Matsushima)
Seita’s cousin (Inoue Mao)

Like the anime, the live-action version of Grave of the Fireflies focuses on two siblings struggling to survive the final days of the war in Kobe, Japan. Unlike the animated version, it tells the story from the point of view their cousin (the aunt’s daughter) . The story, based on a semi-autobiographical novel written by Akiyuki Nosaka, is about a teenage boy named Seita (Ishida Yohsi) and his 5-year-old sister Setsuko (Sasaki Mao). They get separated from their mother (Seiko Matsuda) during an air raid and later find out that she’s been mortally wounded. With their father off fighting in the war as a naval officer Seita and Setsuko are taken in by a distant aunt (Nanako Matsushima) and her family. She’s kind at first, but when rationing causes food to become scarce her attitude toward them grows cold. Unable to bear her anymore, the two kids go out on their own and fend for themselves while living in a nearby cave. Setsuko gets increasingly ill due to malnutrition and Seita is forced to steal food from a farm and rob empty houses during air raids.

Its initial theatrical release in Japan was accompanied by Hayao Miyazaki’s much more lighthearted My Neighbor Totoro as a double feature. In commercial terms, the theatrical release was a failure.[citation needed] While the two movies were marketed toward children and their parents, the extremely depressing nature of Grave of the Fireflies turned away most audiences. However, Totoro merchandise, particularly the stuffed animal of Totoro and Cat bus, sold extremely well after the film and made overall profits for the company to the extent that it stabilized subsequent productions of Studio Ghibli.

Grave of the Fireflies is the only Studio Ghibli film that the Walt Disney Company does not have distribution rights for in the United States, since the film was not produced by parent company Tokuma Shoten, but by Shinchosha, the publisher of the original novel. Grave of the Fireflies was released in the U.S. by Central Park Media in a two-disc set. The first disc contains the uncut film in both an English dub and the original Japanese with English subtitles as well as the film’s storyboards. The second disc contains several extras, including a retrospective on the author of the original book, an interview with Director Isao Takahata, and an interview with well-known critic Roger Ebert, who has expressed his admiration for the film on several occasions.

Following the 2009 bankruptcy and liquidation of Central Park Media, A.D.V. Films acquired the license to Grave of the Fireflies and began releasing it on DVD on July 7, 2009.[5] As of September 1, 2009, the movie is now licensed by ADV’s successor, AEsir Holdings; with distribution from Section23 Films.

English dub cast
Rhoda Chrosite – Setsuko (likely a pseudonym, see Rhodochrosite)
Amy Jones – Aunt
J. Robert Spencer – Seita
Veronica Taylor – Mother
Additional Voices by Shannon Conley, Crispin Freeman, Dan Green, George Leaver, Nick Sullivan

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