Fireflies 1


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Fireflies 1

  1. 1. { Krystal Nguyen, Jonathan Huteson, Daniel Davis • Directed by Isao Takakhata • Written by Akiyuki Nosaka (Novel) and Isao Takahata
  2. 2. Krystal Nguyen • Overview • Introduction • Theme • Symbolism • Japanese Culture Daniel Davis • Setting • History • Video Clip • Presentation Jonathan Huteson • Characters • Animation/Style/Film Type • Discussion Questions
  3. 3. How did it end? While the basic purpose of most children animation is to entertain, Grave of The Fireflies bears many devastating events and a tragic ending that evoke strong emotions and add to the impact of the film.
  4. 4.  Because these sad endings are the last moments of a film that the audience sees, they often leave lasting impressions.  Unlike stories with happy endings, sad endings are usually more memorable, meaningful, captivating, educational, and resonate with people for a longer period of time.
  5. 5.  These reactions often encourage people to evaluate their dreams, needs, values, and morals in their own lives.  When people are sad, they try to alter these unpleasant feelings through understanding, self- analysis, and evaluation, often followed by changes in attitudes or actions.
  6. 6.  From the opening scene of the animated film Grave of the Fireflies, it is clear that this movie is going to end tragically. The remainder of the movie depicts one tragedy after another.
  7. 7.  Many of the sad moments during the film were drawn-out with silence, allowing the audience the time to further analyze the effects of each tragedy suffered.
  8. 8.  Many who watch this film will not only be emotionally captivated from the first scene to the last, but also long afterwards.  Sad stories such as Grave of the Fireflies inspire people to search for a greater meaning in their own lives.
  9. 9.  Grave of the Fireflies (1988) is a Japanese animated film written and directed by Isao Takahata. The Japanese title is Hotaru no Haka (火垂るの墓).  The film is based on the semi- autobiographical novel also called Hotaru no Haka written by Akiyuki Nosaka.
  10. 10.  It is not an entirely true autobiography because while it is based on a part of his life, it does not portray all the events accurately.  However, Nosaka and his sister did live in Kobe, Japan, during the World War II air raids.
  11. 11.  His sister died during that time from malnutrition and the author blamed himself for her death.  Throughout his life, the author has suffered from a deep guilt for his sister’s death. He would often eat first leaving his sister without enough food for herself, resulting in his survival and her death.
  12. 12.  Akiyuki Nosaka wrote this story as an apology to his sister.
  13. 13. Video Clip Start at 5:22 Watch 5 minutes The video shows the beginning of the movie as the city of Kobe is bombed by the US.
  14. 14.  Grave of the Fireflies is set in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan during WWII in 1945  At the time Kobe was the sixth largest city in Japan with about 1 million residents  Kobe was Japan’s largest port and thus an important city for business and transportation  An active part of the war effort
  15. 15.  In 1945 Japan’s war industry was centered mostly in six cities: Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe  The United States planned to bomb all six cities with precision bombs over the span of a few weeks, later adding incendiary bombs  Kobe was firebombed using 331 US B- 29s on the night of March 16 Two B-29 bombers dropping their deadly payload
  16. 16.  8,841 Kobe residents killed in the raid and resulting firestorms  650,000 lost their homes  21% of Kobe’s urban area destroyed Aftermath The City of Kobe after the March 16 air raid
  17. 17.  Seita and Setsuko's mother is a middle age women with dark eyes and dark long hair made into a bun behind her head. She has short bangs that hang in strands and fall half way down her forehead. You can only see the bangs in the close up shots of her. She has a heart condition and she has to consume medication for it.  She appears to be genuinely concerned for the well being of her children. While Seita is burying the food supplies to save them from the air attack his mother finishes dressing Setsuko. She tells her to be a good girl and be patient. Setsuko quickly runs towards her brother and her mother reaches out towards her looking sad and scared. She announces that she is leaving for the bomb shelter but takes the time to give a few words of advice to both her children. She is probably leaving to the bomb shelter before her children because she is weak from her heart condition and needs more time. She tells Seita to be careful and get to the shelter as soon as possible and she tells Setsuko once again to be a good girl adding that she needed to listen to her brother. Seita tells her not to worry about him and his sister and reminds her to leave to the shelter so she does.  On her way to the shelter she was badly wounded and burned all over her body from the fire bombings. Seita hears that his mother is being kept in a school with other wounded. When he finds her the top half of her body is covered with bandages including her face. She is unconscious and when Seita speaks to her she does not respond. The next time Seita visits his mother she is dead. Her body is crawling with maggots and flies. Two men remove her body and take her to be burned with the other dead. Seita watches the burning of his mother and the other victims of war.
  18. 18.  Seita is the 14 year old brother of Setsuko. He has short dark hair and dark eyes. He displays slightly misguided parental behavior towards his sister throughout the film. He is proud and can be stubborn. His father is away with the navy and he has assumed responsibility for taking care of his mom and sister. When his village is attacked by fire bombings the family home is destroyed and his mother is injured badly. Seita takes his sister to live with there aunt out of necessity. Early during the siblings stay with there aunt, Seita goes to visit his injured mother only to find she has recently died. He watches her corpse burned with a number of other casualties. When he returns to his aunts he fails to inform his sister or aunt of his mothers passing.  Seita is treated badly by his aunt. She scorns him for not having a job or going to school even though his school has been destroyed and work does not exist. Setsuko decides that he and his sister should move to a cave/bomb shelter that is located by the ocean. He borrows a cart and moves all there stuff to the shelter. During the siblings stay in the cave Seita frequently leaves in search of food. He finds stealing to be the only way to find food and is one time badly beaten by a angry farmer.  When his sister develops a nasty rash, Seita takes her to the doctor and discovers it is from malnutrition. She continues getting more sick for the rest of the film. Finally after finding his sister weak and delirious Seita withdraws money from his fathers account to buy the girl much needed food. At the bank he hears his father has died along with the rest of the naval forces. His spirit is crushed but he hurries back to prepare food for his sister. He finds his way to the shelter and begins cooking but by the time he is completed his sister has already passed away.  Seita buys charcoal and burns his sisters dead body as a ritual. In a short period of time Seita has witnessed the deaths of both his mom and sister as well as learning that his father has died. He never returned to the shelter. He died homeless living in the underground train station shortly after. His death was probably caused by malnutrition.
  19. 19.  Setsuko is the four year old sister of Seita. She has shortish dark hair and dark eyes. The young girl is curious and lacks understanding of the world around her. Setsuko regulary throws crying fits. She is fond of multicolored candy drops that are contained in a rectangular metal tin. Seita brought them for her when he retrieved the food he stashed before the bombing. It almost always brings Setsuko joy and calm when she sucks on a candy drop.  Early in the film Setsuko is upset that she has been separated from her mother. Her and her brother go to live with there aunt because there mom is dead, there father is at war, and there home is destroyed. Sieta withholds the information of there mothers death from Setsuko. Her aunt later informs her that her mother has died but it is only later in the film that Setsuko lets her brother know that she is aware of the passing.  The children are treated poorly by there aunt. Setsuko is very upset when there aunt forces the siblings to sell there mothers clothing. The continued abuse leads Seita to move him and Setsuko into a cave/bomb shelter located by a body of water. It is at this place that things go completely downhill for Setsuko. The lack of food her brother is able to get for her causes Setsuko to suffer from extreme malnutrition. She develops a rash and starts hallucinating. She is left alone for long periods at a time while her brother searches for food.  Her condition worsens until one day her brother returns to find her unconscious on the ground outside the cave. Setsuko begs her brother not to leave again but he convinces her to let him so he can bring her much needed food. He leaves to drain his fathers bank account and buy food for his dying sister. When he returns with food he finds Setsuko hallucinating badly. She is sucking on what she thinks is a candy drop but it is actually a small stone. She acts very calm and positive despite her condition. Seite goes outside the shelter to cook Setsuko food. By the time he has finished the food for Setsuko she is already dead. Seita burns her body on a hill.
  20. 20.  After Seita and Setsuko's mother is injured they go to live with there Aunt and her family. Their aunt is a middle aged women with brown eyes and long brown hair made into a bun behind her head. From the beginning she has little to no sympathy for the siblings. When the children bring the food Seita had stashed at there now destroyed house to there aunt she shows jealousy towards them because food of that quality was hard to come by unless you were a military family.  She forces Seita to allow her to sell his mothers clothing so she can buy rice and then only gives Seita a small portion and refuses to share any of her other food with the boy and his sister. The Aunt scorns Seita for not going to school or working even though his school has been destroyed and there is no work available. When she finds out that the children's mother is dead she hardly seems affected and once again gives no sympathy to Sieta and Setsuko. When the children decide to cook for themselves the aunt is relieved that she will not have to share with them anymore. When Seita decides that he and his sister should leave to live on there own she does nothing to stop them and even slightly encourages the behavior. Even though Seita is encouraged to move back with his aunt he refuses because he is to proud to move back into the abusive situation that his aunt created for him and his sister.
  21. 21.  The movie theme covers important social issues: war, orphans and hunger.  The film takes place during World War II. All the events occurring in the film are the product of the air raids on Kobe, Japan. There are many scenes showing the cities in fire, kamikaze planes dropping bombs and people running away trying to reach the bomb shelters.
  22. 22.  The chaos gives a live action feeling of what it would be like to be living in war zone, as well as the pain of losing both parents to war.  The mother dies from bombing injury and the father sacrifices his life to fight for the country. The children are then left orphaned with no one in the community able to take care of them.
  23. 23.  After the children become orphaned, hunger comes into play.  The issue begins with the two children being forced to sell their mothers clothing for rice. Then they try living off the isolated land with lake water and frogs. When everything is sold and hunger starts to take control over common sense, the older sibling begins to steal food and brings troubles to himself.
  24. 24.  From this part onwards, the film expends its focus on not only the children, but also the harsh reality of humanity during war time.  Their aunt eventually gives up on them, the villagers refuse to spare food, and finally the doctor refuses to give the malnutritioned sister treatment.  When the children are living off near to nothing, the film ends with both children dying from lack of nutrition.
  25. 25. Many viewers have considered the film an anti-war film. However, director Takahata repeatedly denied, and, in his own words, explained that the film intended to reflect the failed life of the siblings due to isolation from society, in order to provoke sympathy from people who are particularly in their teens and twenties to strengthen up and respect their elders for the suffering they have experienced during the darkest point in Japanese history.
  26. 26. Train Station Grave of the Fireflies, set in Kobe in 1945, begins with the image of a young teen boy dying from starvation in a busy train station. A man finds a tin on his body which contains ashes and bones inside. He throws the tin away and the spirits of Seita, the boy, and his younger sister Seksuko come from the tin.
  27. 27. Firebombing The story then flashes back to earlier in the year. Seita and his sister Setsuko here air raid sirens and prepare their house for the raid while their mother goes to the bomb shelter. The air raid starts before they are able to reach the shelter as hundred of incendiary bombs begin to rain down and light the town on fire. While Seita and Setsuko escape unharmed, their mother is horribly burned. She dies soon after the siblings see her for the last time in a makeshift clinic.
  28. 28. Death in the Family The siblings, with their father away at war and their mother dead, go to live with their aunt. She convinces Seita to sell his mother’s kimonos for rice. Seita does so reluctantly. He digs up supplies that he buried before the raid and gives them to his aunt, save for a small tin of fruit drops. As their food rations begin to dwindle, the aunt become increasingly and openly resentful toward Seita and Setsuko. Seita decides to move out with Setsuko and they go to live on their own in the underground bomb shelter. They collect and free fireflies in the shelter for light, but the next morning they have all died. Upset, Setsuko digs them a grave and asks her brother, “why must fireflies die so young?” She also asks why her mother had to die.
  29. 29. Malnutrition As their food supply begins to run low, the siblings start to become sick from malnutrition. In desperation as Setsuko becomes increasingly sick, Seita steals food from local farmers during air raids. He takes his now seriously malnourished sister to a doctor who informs him that she will die from starvation. Seita hastily withdraws all the money from his mother’s bank account and buys food. He overhears that Japan has surrendered to the Allied forces and all of Japan’s navy has been destroyed. This means his father, a Captain in the Navy, is almost certainly dead. When Seita returns to Setsuko with food she is minutes from death and dies soon after. Seita cremates her body and places the ashes in the fruit drop tin. He dies weeks later in the train station.
  30. 30. Fireflies In the final scene we see Seita and Setsuko, sitting happy and healthy, surrounded by fireflies, looking down on the city of Kobe.
  31. 31.  Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 Japanese animated film. It was written and directed by Isao Takahata. The film was animated by Studio Ghibli. Grave of the Fireflies is based on a 1967 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka.  The illustration outlines for grave of the fireflies were done in brown. Most illustration outlines in Japanese animation are done in black. The films color coordinator Michiya Hoda said in a interview with Animerica magazine that '' The reason it was done in brown was to give a softer feeling to the screen. It was a technique unused in anime at that time and it was done as a challenge.'' Brown is difficult to use as an outline color because it does not contrast as well as black. Black was used sparingly in the outline process when it was absolutely necessary.
  32. 32.  The fruit drops symbolizes hope and helps preserve Setsuko’s and Seita’s childhood by giving them moments of sweetness in the harsh world they lived in.
  33. 33.  The Kamikaze planes passing by and the bombs reminds Setsuko of fireflies as they fell through the sky.
  34. 34.  The short life spans of fireflies resembles the untimely deaths of Seita, Setsuko and their mother.
  35. 35.  Since the 8th century, fireflies have been favored in Japanese literature as a metaphor for impassioned love. In this film, they are seen as the souls of whom have died in war.  The human soul was represented through the floating and illuminating fireflies.
  36. 36.  The film portraits family structure true to Japanese culture. Older siblings are expected to have part of the parenting responsibility, while the younger ones assist in housework.  Seita shows the role of caretaker as he struggles to put food on the table and Setsuko shows herself as a supportive sister (saving up coins).  Through hardship, the siblings still naturally settle into these expected norms of their culture.
  37. 37.  Sakuma drops is a famous Japanese candy sold in iconic tin cans that have been around since 1908.  The candies became very popular after they were featured in Grave of the Fireflies and were such an important emblem throughout the film.
  38. 38.  The film inspired Sakuma Candy Co. to make their own special edition featuring Setsuko on the cover and are sold worldwide for about $5.
  39. 39. Burrell, Robert S. "Breaking the Cycle of Iwo Jima Mythology: A Strategic Study of Operation Detachment.” The Journal of Military History 68.4 (2004): 1143-186. JSTOR. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. <>. “Film and Video Programs.” MoMA 2.7 (September, 1999): 15-30. Grave of the Fireflies, Dir. Isao Takahata. Perf. Tsutomu Tatsumi and Ayano Shiraishi. Studio Ghibli, 1988. DVD. Greenberg, Raz. “The Animated Text: Definition.” Journal of Film and Video 63.2 (Summer, 2011): 3-10. Hotaru no Haka, dir. Takahata Isao (1988); translated as Grave of the Fireflies, subtitled DVD (Central Park Media, 2002). Imamura, Taihei. “Japanese Art and the Animated Cartoon.” The Quarterly of Film, Radio and Television 7.3 (Spring, 1953): 217-222. Newitz, Annalee. “Magical Girls and Atomic Bomb Sperm: Japanese Animation in America.” Film Quarterly 49.1 (Autumn, 1995): 2-15. Nosaka Akiyuki, “A Grave of Fireflies,” translated by James R. Abrams, Japan Quarterly 25, no. 4 (1978).Brian McVeigh, Wearing Ideology (New York: Oxford, 2000), 86–87. Roger Ebert on why anime was an effective choice for the film version of Grave of the Fireflies: Searle, Thomas R. ""It Made a Lot of Sense to Kill Skilled Workers": The Firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945." The Journal of Military History 66.1 (2002): 103-33. JSTOR. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. <>. Wendy Goldberg. “Transcending the Victim’s History: Takahata Isao’s Grave of the Fireflies”. 2009 Mechademia Vol 4 Project MUSE