Hotaru no Haka
(Grave of the Fireflies)
|Reviews & Articles|
1). The New York Times
August 27, 1993, Friday, Late Edition - Final
HEADLINE: For Children
By Dulcie Leimbach
' Grave of the Fireflies' Recommended ages: 8 and up
Toward the beginning of this elegiac and riveting video, Seita, who is 14, and his 4-year-old sister, Setsuko, sift through the rubble of Kobe, Japan, left heavily damaged by American firebombs. " Grave of the Fireflies, " a 1988 Japanese video with English subtitles, was recently released in the United States. The animated story, about two children orphaned at the end of World War II, is not for every child. Based on an autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, the video, with its muted, delicate colors, almost like a Japanese brush painting, softens the ugly reality the children face. After their mother dies (as she dies, she is shown wrapped in bloody bandages), they eventually settle in an abandoned bomb shelter.
From there, they scavenge food, which is scarce for nearly everyone. At one point, Seita steals tomatoes from a farm and is beaten. Setsuko becomes delirious from starvation, and in the last scenes her brother tries to sustain her.
The 88-minute video is indeed sad, but it also shows the siblings' determination and love. One young viewer was fascinated by the war and by the scenes showing the children eating with chopsticks, sitting on folded legs at a low table. This young viewer also had a lot of questions afterward, as his mind worked to grasp what he had seen.
The video is distributed by Central Park Media at a suggested retail price of $39.95. It is available at most major video stores.
2). The Washington Post
July 26, 1995, Wednesday, Final Edition
The Next Big Japanese Import: Animation
By Michael O'Connell
Faced with fewer cultural and social restrictions than their American counterparts, Japanese animators frequently tackle more sophisticated and controversial topics. But a few high-profile works, like the series Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend and the film Wicked City, have created the impression that anime is mostly a forum for sex and violence. Nadelman contends that these works constitute only a small portion of anime produced. "This is a widely varying style of art and it encompasses many different ages and personal tastes," he says. But "Japanese animation doesn't sugarcoat things. When they want to, they can be pretty damned dramatic."
The epitome of drama may be Isao Takahata's 1988 film Grave of the Fireflies. Based on a novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, the film follows the struggles of two orphans during the American firebombing at the end of World War II. The story is gritty, horrific, at times magical. "For the people who say that Japanese animation is all sex and violence, have them watch Grave of the Fireflies, " Nadelman says. "It's a wonderful little story."
3). The Sun (Baltimore)
April 14, 1996, Sunday, FINAL EDITION
Toon in Tomorrow; Japanimation:
Anime can be as cinematic as any Hollywood blockbuster and sells bigger in its native land. The cartoon form is deep, sexy and drawing a bead on the American market.
BYLINE: J.D. Considine, SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC
Because anime isn't watered down for children, it can take on a wide range of themes and topics. For instance, there's an anime version of the literary classic "Tale of Genji" that's as smart as any "Masterpiece Theatre" adaptation. " Grave of the Fireflies" is a story of two young orphans at the end of World War II that's heartbreaking enough to leave any viewer in tears. The romantic sitcom "Maison Ikkoku," by contrast, is as well-written and addictive as a prime-time hit.
4). Video Week
November 7, 1994
SECTION: OF SPECIAL INTEREST, Vol. 15, No. 41 Pg. 5
Central Park Media won 2 top awards at Chicago International Children's Film Festival last month for Grave of the Fireflies. Japanese animated film won first prize in Rights of the Child category, awarded to title that best represents U.N. Declaration to the Rights of the Child. Also, Festival's adult animation jury awarded film first place in Best Animated Feature Film category.
5). October 7, 1994 Friday, NORTH SPORTS FINAL EDITION
CHILDREN'S FILM FESTIVAL SEEKS A BALANCE
By Nancy Maes. Special to the Tribune.
The 11th annual Chicago International Children's Film Festival is actually two events in one because it has a jury of grownups and a jury of youngsters.
"The festival includes choices made by adults in the profession who select films that have good entertainment value but also have some thematic depth and represent basic human values," says May Pietz Behrend, director of the children's jury for the festival. "There are educational values to these films just as there are in fairy tales and in the lessons of life itself."
Films at the festival will also differ considerably from the violent shows and movies that are part of the media landscape. "There is violence in children's lives and it would be foolish to pretend that it doesn't exist," says Behrend, "but we are looking for films about human relationships and how people resolve difficulties and we reject gratuitous violence."
As an example, she points out a film called "Another Story," an allegorical tale of discrimination that parallels the history of the Holocaust. "You look for films that show that exploitation can be recognized and fought and often overcome," she explains.
Young echos those thoughts in talking about an animated film called " Grave of the Fireflies, " about the wartime bombing of Japan told from a child's point of view. "It does have some violence," says Young, "but it goes with the story, which is very sensitive and moving, and the film is beautifully animated with almost photo-realistic-type imagery.
Compiled by Ryoko Toyama