Actor-Shared Background: Invoked. It was the director's intent to have both children voiced by actors from the Kansai region.
Children Voicing Children: Setsuko's Japanese voice actress, Ayano Shiraishi, was five years old when she provided the voice for the character.
Creator Breakdown: The original short story was written by Akiyuki Nosaka as a way to come to grips with his guilt over the real life death of his younger sister, who he had been caring for after their parents died:
My sister's death is an exact match with the novel. It was one week after the end of the war. At the countryside of Fukui prefecture where I was, it was the day the restrictions on lighting were removed. It must have been the 22nd. It was evening, and I was picking up my sister's bones. I was coming home in a daze when I saw the village lit up. There was nothing like my surprise then. My sister died in my side of the world, and the light was coming back in the other.
Defictionalization: Of a sort. Sakuma Fruit Drops have been around since 1908, but every once in a while they're released in a commemorative tin that looks just like the one from the film.
Doing It for the Art: Most of the outlines were done with brown rather than black, in order to give the film a softer feel. This had never been done in an anime before, and was a great challenge to the animators. Brown is harder to animate than black, as it doesn't contrast as well. Black was only used when absolutely necessary.
Dueling Dubs: Has two English dubs. One was made in 1998 by Central Park Media and New York-based Skypilot Entertainment that was used for all VHS and DVD releases as late as 2011.note With Broadway actor J. Robert Spencer as Seita, veteran anime voice actress Corinne Orr as Setsuko, and early work from Crispin Freeman, Veronica Taylor, and Dan Green. A new one was made in 2012 by Houston-based Seraphim Digital for Sentai Filmworks' Blu-ray because the original dub audio couldn't be remastered in HD.note With Adam Gibbs as Seita, Emily Neves as Setsuko, and featuring Shelley Calene-Black, Rob Mungle, and Luci Christian. It didn't help that the original dub always had a mixed reception, and the new one was, at the very least, considered an improvement. The 1998 dub was still included as a bonus feature for its historical significance, and the UK and Australian Blu-rays contain only the 1998 dub.
Enforced Method Acting: Because of how young she was at the time of filming, Ayano Shiraishi, who voiced Setsuko in the original Japanese version, had to have her lines recorded before her scenes were animated. As the animators were not used to having to do this, they tried to avoid angles from where her mouth could be seen.
Jossed: There are two common interpretations of this film, both of which have been denied by Isao Takahata:
Takahata has always maintained that Grave of the Fireflies is not an anti-war film. The reason is that, as a staunch anti-war activist himself, he worries governments might use Seita and Setsuko's plight as propaganda to argue fighting is necessary to prevent greater tragedy, and that showing human suffering without context cannot dissuade typical human behavior.
The other interpretation is that the film was aimed squarely at juvenile delinquents in 1980s Japan, with the message being: "When they were your age, your parents went through hell on Earth, and this is how you repay them?!", and that kids should be grateful to their elders and quit being delinquents. In reality, Takahata hates this interpretation because he is an outspoken critic of Japanese society's traditional demand for conformity.
Screwed by the Lawyers: When GKIDS acquired the license to all the Ghibli films, they weren't able to license Grave of the Fireflies since the film wasn't represented by Studio Ghibli itself.