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Hotaru no Haka
(Grave of the Fireflies)


Akiyuki Nosaka, 1987 interview
From the Main FAQ by Ryoko Toyama

Interview originally from the June 1987 issue of Animage. Excerpt taken from the English translation published in Animerica Vol. 2, No. 11, 1994.
My sister's death is an exact match with the novel. It was one week after the end of the war. At the countryside of Fukui prefecture where I was, it was the day the restrictions on lighting were removed. It must have been the 22nd. It was evening, and I was picking up my sister's bones. I was coming home in a daze when I saw the village lit up. There was nothing like my surprise then. My sister died in my side of the world, and the light was coming back in the other.
Honestly speaking, there was also relief that she died and my burden was gone. No one would wake me up in the night like she did with her crying, and I wouldn't have to wander around with a child on my back any more. I'm very sorry to say this about my sister, but I did have those feelings too. That's why I haven't gone back to my novel (Grave of the Fireflies, published in 1967) to re-read it, since I hate that. It's so hypocritical. It must be absolutely true that Seita must have thought of his sister as a burden too. He must have thought that he could have escaped better if it weren't for her.
There are many things that I just couldn't get myself to write into the story. During composition, the older brother got increasingly transformed into a better human being. I was trying to compensate for everything I couldn't do myself. I always thought I wanted to perform these generous acts in my head, but I couldn't do so. I always thought I wouldn't eat and would give the food to my little sister, but when I actually had the piece of food in my hand, I was hungry after all, so I'd eat it. And there was nothing like the deliciousness of eating in a situation like that. And the pain that followed was just as big. I'd think there is no one more hopeless in the world than me. I didn't put anything about this in the novel.

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