Synopsis: When Seita and Setsuko lose their mother during an American air raid, they are forced to fend for themselves amidst the harsh reality of war. With their father out on the battlefield, they live day-to-day as wandering orphans. Hunger, sickness, and pain... all are experienced first-hand by the two children with nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
Review: Throughout history, Japan is considered as one of the main antagonists in World War II. Grave of the Fireflies is an eye-opening look at the effects of WWII on innocent Japanese citizens. Set amidst air raids and bombings, the degree of realism is very high plot-wise and animation-wise.
Grave of the Fireflies unfolds from the first person point of view, and is effectively narrated by the main character, Seita. Seita's mother dies after an air raid on their village, and he and his sister. Seita's father is in the military, and he has no idea where he is or how to get in touch with him. Brother and sister are sent off to a relative, but things don't go so well and the two ultimately have to try and survive by themselves. The story is emotionally involving. I felt both enlightened and a bit depressed after watching it. It shows us how no one really wins in a war, and how much innocent people suffer in the middle of it. There are also a lot of life lessons to be learned for both the young and old.
The art and animation are excellent. Extremely detailed and fluid visuals exude a very realistic feel. The English dubbing is done well, although I still prefer the Japanese voices. Hailed by critics worldwide, Grave of the Fireflies is a worthwhile addition to any anime or video library. I think history classes should show this to students, and it's something that I'd like to show my kids someday.
Miscellanies: Grave of the Fireflies is semi-autobiographical.