Grave of the Fireflies (synopsis - Page 8)

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Synopsis - Chapter Eight: Fireflies


This gives Seita an idea. They'll catch fireflies to light up their shelter. He catches some in his hand and takes them inside the shelter. He opens his hand slowly, and it's as if he's holding a green fire in his hand.

The fireflies fly slow slowly out of his hands, lighting up their faces. One lands in Setsuko's hair and looks like a hair clip, then flies off onto the mosquito net.

They catch more in a bucket and bring them inside. Seita takes off the lid, and the fireflies fly out like little fairies, their green lights fading in and out. Hanging on the mosquito net, they look like stars. It reminds Seita of his father's naval review (a display of ships in formation) that he went to before his sister was born. He imagines the ships, speckled with lights, sailing into the harbor with fireworks exploding in the air.


Seita sings a war chant, "Might fortresses floating on the seas, defending our homeland from invaders near and far." He pretends to be a gunner shooting at aircraft, and he loses the image of the ships and becomes sad when all he sees are the fireflies. Setsuko's already fallen asleep, so he lies down, humming the song. He rolls over to Setsuko and hugs her tightly. She wakes up and kicks his shin, then rolls away. He rolls away, too. The fireflies begin to die, falling off the mosquito net one by one.

The next morning, Seita finds Setsuko burying the fireflies in a mass grave. She says that their aunt told her that their mother was in a grave, too, and this makes Seita cry for the first time during the movie. He cries very quietly, then wipes off the tears. He kneels beside his sister and tells her that they'll visit her grave someday, which he says is under a big camphor tree in the graveyard near Nunobiki. Setsuko interrupts him, saying, "Why do fireflies have to die so soon?"

Two eerily red fireflies are still left in the shelter, floating around together near the now-eerily red box with the ashes of Seita's mother. Soon they disappear into the darkness.


Sometime later, a group of boys going fishing come upon the shelter while Seita and Setsuko are away. They think some crazy hermit who lives there, until they notice the swing. One of the boys bows down at the grave of the fireflies and mockingly prays to it. He picks up the offering, hoping that it's real food, but it's just a bunch of dirt balls. Another boy finds dried frogs and ground soybeans, and they all wonder who in the world would want to live like this. "And I thought the food I got was bad!" then one of the boys runs out of the shelter, shouting about a ghost, and they all run off to play somewhere else.

Seita and Setsuko are visiting a farmer, the same one who sold them the food before. Seita tells him that he has nothing left to trade, but that he will gladly pay cash for the rice. The farmer, who is eating a rice ball lunch in front of them, says that he hasn't got any extra to be able to sell. He tells Seita to swallow his pride and go back to his aunt's place, since he can't contact any other relatives. "Everything's rationed now. You can't live outside the system." Seita tells him that he'll just ask somebody else.

Strafing Fighter

On the way back, an American fighter strafes the strip of road they are on. Seita dives with his sister into a tomato field, barely escaping being hit. He looks up, and a tomato is right there in his face. He takes it and bites into it, then gets another for Setsuko. She asks him if they really should be doing that, and Seita nods yes. He then grabs more for later.

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