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Grave of the Fireflies  opens with a statement that shocked and haunted viewers, “September 21, 1945  that was the day I died” with the image of starving corpses, that tragic scene is also the context. throughout the movie. Japan in World War II appeared in the scene where planes were dancing overhead, artillery shells dropped like fire on the rooftops, people running riotously in the rain of bombs, screams, crying like merging Bang. Among them was a boy carrying a small baby on his back, rushing to find shelter. It’s Seita and Setsuko. 

After that, with no other choice, Seita took her sister to depend on her distant relatives. The selfish aunt welcomes the two children just for the valuables on their stroller. Seita and Setsuko struggle to survive between famine on the one hand and merciless indifference on the other. surrounding people.

After a period of time when the two brothers live in scolding, discrimination and restraint, the boy Seita is faced with the choice of either staying with his selfish aunt, working and dealing with face the truth. Or run away to get the freedom. Although it will be difficult and needy, the two brothers will do what they like. And then in the end the two brothers decided to find shelter for themselves, which is the abandoned bomb shelter. The boy tried to steal things to survive. Seita had to steal the farmers’ food and food to overcome the hunger of him and his baby. Once he was caught and beaten.


Ironically, once his sister got sick, the doctor said that due to lack of food, Seita decided to go to the bank to withdraw all the money, he happily brought back rice, eggs and thought of his sister’s smile when eating, Setsuko is gone forever. At the last minute, she smiled to Seita “Thank you”, and went to eternal sleep. You are like an obedient, innocent, cheerful angel, a pure smile that warms people’s hearts. Seita’s recollection of her sister running and jumping around the simple, gentle abandoned house took away tears from the audience. She held her breath and opened her arms to catch the fireflies, She hid here, ran there like a puppy, She ran around in a towel around the lake, happily and innocently … All of a sudden, nostalgic. For Seita, that moment his sky collapsed, the light for him to move on was gone, all turned to ash and Setsuko’s cremating flames on the hill.



The meaning of the title

In the original Japanese title (火 垂 る の 墓) the word “hotaru” (firefly) is not written as usual with one kanji (蛍) but with two kanji (火 – “hi”, fire and 垂 – “tareru) ”, Drooping) which means a drop of water is about to fall from the leaf.

We can see images of fireflies throughout the movie. Immediately after the evening when the two brothers caught fireflies to light up that dark cellar – the evening when the two of us sank into dreams of hopes for a different world, the fireflies died. The next morning, Setsuko silently digs graves for fireflies. The short life of the fireflies is a metaphor of the fragility of life . In the world war many innocent children go forever . They are like fireflies,very beautiful, but cant’t live long.

Setsuko’s little hands full of fireflies is heartbreaking. It is the embodiment of dreams, beautiful things disappear quickly. Setsuko is still naive, but still painful. Setsuko says I already know, I make the grave just like her mother’s grave, she is dead. Seita, who had seen her mother in critical condition, bandaged all over her body, saw her mother’s death, was thrown into a mass crematorium, at that time, without restraint, he burst into pain. Setsuko is his only relative, the person he loves most, someone he doesn’t want to suffer. Now that Setsuko knows that he has lost his mother, his efforts have become meaningless, whether he can still make his sister as innocent as before.

The good things disappears quickly

There is a saying that I have noticed, which is a saying of the seller of straw and coal to cremate “Today is beautiful, but no one noticed”

This sentence is a statement that creates a contradiction for the audience to look back at the film. At that time, Seita just discovered her father died, knowing that Japan had surrendered unconditionally, all beliefs in him had collapsed. Setsuko also dies, dying from starvation and fever. The money he brings back, the food he cooks also has no meaning. But “today is a fine day”, because today there are no aircraft wings in the sky, no bomb shelter announcements.

Evening came, the two brothers went to the garden and watched the fireflies. They went out into the sea, playing in the sunlight, when the salt makers looked at them puzzledly. The two brothers sang together by the piano in the house, but the aunt scolded because it was war, “you don’t realize it”. Seita feels like the king, feels good about stealing someone else’s stuff in dangerous circumstances while the enemy plane is bombing, because he knows that it will make his brother happy.

For them, war cannot affect their childlike joy, or Seita cannot let war obscure Setsuko’s innocence.For them, “today was also a fine day (though the bombs fell), but no one noticed.”

The meaning of the movie

Graves Of Fireflies is one of the most successful animated films by late director Isao Takahata. In addition to the message of war and family affection, the film also does a good job of depicting post-war images. The devastating and frightening consequences followed by the collapse of the Japanese economy and a terrible, long-lasting famine.

Fireflies, joys, beautiful things, They’re all things that can’t last long. The audience, when watching the movie, has short moments of joy of the two brothers, then sinks into tears when reality suffers again, like fireflies. War has never been so painful when referring directly to war in the bare minimum.

The film contains a lot of drawings and very moving depictions of the terrible consequences of war on society and individuals among them, many critics have considered the Grave of the Fireflies as an anti-war film. . The film also gives viewers an inside look at Japanese culture as it focuses on depicting human tragedy by war rather than seeking to praise heroic deeds.

The hallucinations in the movie, the image of the train are what anchors a bit of the film’s belief. Seita doesn’t cremate her brother at the temple, as the straw vendor tells Setsuko to rest. Seita knew that he was going to die, or after all, he didn’t want to live. Seita knew when he died, he wouldn’t rest in peace. He doesn’t want his brother to rest and be alone, he doesn’t want him to die and stay in the world without Setsuko.


General conclusions

With 89 minutes of movie viewing we will find that it is too quiet. However, taking us through many different levels of emotions, Setsuko’s death makes us deposition in a silent film, evoking thoughts about family relationships. Or to say further, humanity in war. War changes people. The aunt character represents the painful and obnoxious reality of war. I think if this is the peacetime, and the siblings’ mother dies in an accident, the aunt will be much less harsh. The aunt is not to blame, the farmer is not to blame Seita, the war is what must be responsible.

Watching “Grave of the Fireflies “, I suddenly realized, happiness is really simple. Even if you don’t eat enough, you can still laugh, just be together, even in an abandoned house, you can sparkle with fireflies. Despite the sad ending, what lingers in me is not only the pain but above all, the beautiful love between the two children. That love will forever shine like fireflies flying up to the brilliant sky, reminding us of our dream of living in peace …

If you have a day off, I advise you not to start with this movie, you do not want the rest of the time to wipe your tears. I think this movie is best suited when you are bored and feeling hesitant, let’s see how lucky we are and get back to work.

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