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Grave of the Fireflies
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Genre:Animation - Adult
Length:2h 39mins
Cast:Isao Takahata

In his list entitled "Great Movies: The First 100," film critic Roger Ebert saw fit to name only two anime titles. The first was Hayao Miyazaki's family-friendly fantasy film My Neighbor Totoro. The second was Grave of the Fireflies, an altogether more serious and perhaps ultimately more meaningful affair. This 1988 film, based on a partially autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, follows the heartbreaking story of a prideful teenage boy and his four-year-old sister during World War II, when massive firebombing of the Japanese mainland was a regular occurrence. After both their parents die, the now-homeless pair struggle for basic amenities such as food and shelter during Japan's bleakest era. Quiet, intense, and never emotionally manipulative, Fireflies is a great film for reasons both artistic and otherwise, not the least of which is director Isao Takahata's ability to graft genuine human drama onto a grim chapter of history that is often overshadowed by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two-DVD Collector's Series Edition of Grave of the Fireflies features a wealth of extras, including original storyboards, a number of essays, and interviews with director Takahata, novelist Nosaka, and Ebert himself. Volk Lindsay

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