Blu-ray Review: GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (1988)

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Review: Grave of the Fireflies / Cert: 12 / Director: Isao Takahata / Screenplay: Isao Takahata / Starring: J. Robert Spencer, Rhoda Chrosite / Release Date: July 1st

Thirteen years before the incredible Spirited Away, Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli were already churning out classics such as Grave of the Fireflies, a wartime film based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka. It follows a teenage boy called Seita as he looks after his four-year-old sister Setsuko in the midst of World War II Japan.

After the death of their mother, Seita and Setsuko go to live with their aunt who becomes increasingly resentful towards them as the war and food supplies worsen. Seita tries his best to stay positive and shield Setsuko from the tragedy surrounding them. While Seita waits for his father to write back from his navy post, he and Setsuko move to a disused bomb shelter where they happily discover the fireflies from the movie’s title. Too proud to return to their aunt and struggling to find food, Seita dangerously tries to ignore the cold reality of war as he devotes himself to his increasingly ailing sister.

The animation in Grave of the Fireflies is incredible, from the bomb-ravaged city of Kobe to the glowing bioluminescence of the fireflies. The story is heartbreaking and something that haunts you long after watching it, and is deservedly considered one of the best films of all time, not just in the genres of animation or war.

Extras: Interview with director Isao Takahata / Japanese Release Promo (ft. Interview with Isao Takahata and Akiyuki Nosaka) / Deleted scenes storyboards / Interview with Roger Ebert / Historical perspective directory / Trailers

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