Released on April 16 1988 as a double feature with My Neighbor Totoro and with a length of 88 minutes, director Isao Takahata brought us his most well known film Hotaru no Haka also known as Grave of the Fireflies in the west. To describe a film, words like "great", "moving", "powerful" and "touching" are often used, though this time it’s one of the cases where words like these are most sincerely deserved.
Grave of the Fireflies is based on the partially-autobiographical book of the same title by Akiyuki Nosaka. It takes place in the latter part of World War II and is a somber film about Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, who lose their mother when she dies during a firebombing. Their father is serving in the Japanese navy, so Seita and Setsuko try staying with a distant aunt who soon grows to resent them. Things proportionally deteriorate and they strike out on their own. As we follow Seita and Setsuko doing their best to survive in the Japanese countryside, battling hunger, prejudice, and pride in their own personal battle, the film unintended results into one of the best (anti)war movies ever made. Of course being a classic, you’d expect there to be lots of beautiful Grave of the Fireflies goods. Unfortunately, this is not the case, but following are still some very nice items:
- Grave of the Fireflies Hand-Painted Cel
- Signed Grave of the Fireflies Ekonte
- Original Japanese Grave of the Fireflies Poster
- Grave of the Fireflies DVD Releases
- Archives of Studio Ghibli Vol. II
Grave of the Fireflies Hand-Painted Cel
This original hand-painted cel is part of the Ghibli Museum Art Collection. Not only is the hand-painted quality superb, the fact that it's from one of GhibliWorld.com's favorite movies makes it extra special. If the picture below has increased you curiousity, please note that this cel is a limited edition and that all cels from the Ghibli Museum Art Collection can only be bought at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan.
Signed Grave of the Fireflies Ekonte
The Grave of the Fireflies Ekonte (ISBN 4-19-861379-6) is a storyboard book consisting out of 513 pages. It was released June, 2001 and it’s something for the true collector as most of the Grave of the Fireflies DVD’s already have a storyboard feature. What makes this copy more special is that it was personally signed by director Isao Takahata himself while GhibliWorld.com had a personal interview with him. A normal unsigned copy can be bought for 2,730 Yen at Amazon.co.jp.
Original Japanese Grave of the Fireflies Poster
What would a Studio Ghibli Poster Collection consisting out of over thirty Japanese original full size Studio Ghibli posters be without an original Hotaru no Haka official movie poster? Below is one of the two.
Grave of the Fireflies DVD Releases
Furthermore, what’s a Grave of the Fireflies Collection without a DVD of the film itself? Several DVD editions have been available, but if you want to own the best, then you need to have the Japanese version and while you’re at it you might want to add the R1 Collector’s Edition as well. Here’s why…
The great website DVD Beaver has had a Grave of the Fireflies DVD comparison page for several years now. Please pay it a visit and you’ll see the Japanese version has the sharpest picture. Unfortunately, Studio Ghibli isn’t the one who released this version as Warner Bros. owns the rights for its DVD release and this is probably the reason the Japanese DVD release lacks in terms of extras (it only contains a "Making of Hotaru no Haka" featurette and some trailers). Luckily, the Japanese DVD release is available really cheaply (for example at Yesasia) and as it’s the version with the best picture quality this is the version you need to get first. Though the pictures posted on DVD Beaver are rather small, when watching the film on a regular TV or better… on a 40” LCD Full HD screen the difference is quite amazing.
Of course you’d also like to watch some extra’s and as the Japanese release doesn’t cost that much, you might want to buy the R1 Collector’s Edition as well (for example at Amazon.com. This version doesn’t have the best picture quality, but it does contain superior extras (the UK edition contains the same extra’s). Disc one contains the movie itself, as well as the complete storyboards available as alternate angle track. Disc two comes with a "DVNR restoration presses" featurette (not sure why, as the current Japanese release has a better picture), a "Locations, Then and Now" featurette, a Historical Perspective featurette (a 12-minute interview with historians Theodore and Haruko Taya Cook), an interview with Roger Ebert (12 minutes), an interview director Isao Takahata (18 minutes), 10 deleted scenes (as storyboards), a complete screenplay featurette, a Japanese release promo and 2 theatrical trailers of Grave of the Fireflies.
In case you’re wondering, the left picture above is the Japanese edition together with a can of Shuwa Puccho Hotaru no Haka Fruit Drops. The picture on the right is the R1 Collector’s Edition.
Archives of Studio Ghibli Vol. II
As Tokuma Shoten hasn’t released a version of The Art of Grave of the Fireflies as part of their “The Art of…” series, the best alternative is the book called “Archives of Studio Ghibli Vol. II”. It was first released in August 1996 and with 128 pages in contains info about Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) and Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) such as photos of movie advertisement materials, movie production proposals, production reports, and newspaper review articles. The book can be purchased at a price of 2,940 Yen at Amazon.co.jp (ISBN 4-19-860560-2). Following are some pictures from the book to give you basic idea what it looks like. Pictures from the Totoro part will be posted later on the My Neighbor Totoro page.