Tear Jerker: Grave of the Fireflies

"Okay, okay, sheesh! I take it all back, Disney! Go ahead and kill all the mommies and daddies you want! Shoot 'em, toss 'em off cliffs, throw 'em to the sharks, let 'em disappear in mysterious and unexplained pre-prologue circumstances! I won't say another word about it! All I ask, and it's a little thing really, no trouble on your part, is to make sure their offspring are plucky and resourceful and SURVIVE to live Happily Ever After. Okay? Please?"
Sue, Mutant Reviewers From Hell review of Grave of the Fireflies

Perhaps the king of all anime Tear Jerkers, Grave of the Fireflies is a film about two children losing their parents to war, then starving to death in the mid-1940s. It was originally shown in a double feature with the completely dissimilar My Neighbor Totoro.

Most of these examples were written when Grave of the Fireflies was its own genre of sad anime on the main Tear Jerker Anime page.

  • Believe it or not, AMV Hell 4 managed to make it worse. How? Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’. ‘If I lay here... If I just lay here... Would you lie with me and just forget the world?’ If you’ve seen the movie, you can probably guess the visuals for this one.
    • Done.
    • Try watching the movie, followed by that AMV, and then hear the song several times throughout the day on Pandora Radio. You will feel very down for the entire day, but strangely unable to skip the song or turn it off.
  • Try watching the film, and then read about the real-life story that inspired it. Then find out that the author of the original book wrote it as an apology to his sister.
  • When the cleaner who finds Seita’s body finds the box with Setsuko’s ashes, he throws it away. After licking it.
  • The lines ‘Why do fireflies have to die so soon?’ and She never woke up strike many hard.
    • Especially the last line, never has four simple words kicked you so hard and made you cry so much, particularly the very blunt way Seita delivers it.
  • Hand-in-hand with the above is the Really Dead Montage that follows soon afterward, which had the added Mood Dissonance with the family returning to find all of their possessions intact, while the pair we’d been following throughout the movie had lost everything.
    • Especially with Amelita Galli-Curci’s Home Sweet Home playing in the background.
  • A Tearjerking and Heartwarming scene comes right near the end, when Seita asks Setsuko what she would like to eat, not long before his visit to the bank, prompting this exchange:
    Setsuko: Tempura... Sashimi... Sour Jelly...
    Seita: Anything more?
    Setsuko: Ice cream... And I want to eat drops again.
    Seita: Drops, huh? Alright! I’ll go withdraw all the savings. I’ll bring back all that you wanted to eat.
    Setsuko: (Clings to Seita) I don't want anything. Just stay here, big brother. Don’t go. Don’t go. Please don’t go.
  • Setsuko’s funeral. To see Seita sit there all night watching the fire with that music, sniff.
    • Said music? Here you go.
    • Try watching that scene as an older sibling. Imagine having to cremate your little brother or sister. Imagine feeling absolutely helpless. Imagine failing someone you hold so close to you, someone you have sworn to protect and nurture and being able to do nothing but sit and watch their body burn.
      • And possibly worse: holding your kid-sister’s corpse for an entire night.
  • Moments where Seita's spirit watches the past. While he's reunited with his sister, he still has to live with the past. Note that the final scene involves him looking rather sadly out at the city of Kobe.
    • As he witness the memory of Sesuko's trying to take back her late mother's clothing, she screams shrilly as Seita holds her back. The ghost of Seita turns away and covers his ears.
  • The moments when Seita and Setsuko were still living in the house, and their aunt crushes their camaraderie, from when she interrupts them singing together to tell Seita to enlist, to her lack of sympathy when Setsuko's hunger makes her cry at night. It's ambiguous whether she feels any guilt watching them leave, but it's awful seeing an adult do nothing while children put themselves in harm's way.
  • The whole sequence where they find the body of their mother, wrapped in bandages. Near the start of the movie. The. Start.
  • After reading about the author's real life experience for the book, Seita's death is even more depressing. The sheer amount of guilt...