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.
Dueling Dubs: Has two English dubs. One was made in 1998 by Central Park Media and New York-based Skypilot Entertainment 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 that was used for all VHS and DVD releases as late as 2011. A new one was made in 2012 by Houston-based Seraphim Digital note with Adam Gibbs as Seita, Emily Neves as Setsuko, and featuring Shelley Calene-Black, Rob Mungle, and Luci Christian for Sentai Filmworks' Blu-ray because the original dub audio couldn't be remastered in HD. 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 it's historical significance, and the UK and Australian Blu-rays contain only the 1998 dub.
Enforced Method Acting: In Japan, Setsuko's voice actress really was four years old, and her lines had to be recorded before her scenes were animated. Because 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 Takahata.
First and foremost, Takahata has always maintained that it is not an antiwar film. The reason is that, as a staunch antiwar 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 behaviour.
The other interpretation – common to Japanese critics of the time and repeated by anime fans and Tropers who know about Takahata's Jossing of the above bullet-point but not his later comments – is that the film was aimed squarely at juvenile delinquents in 1980's 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 hated this interpretation even more than the first one because he is also an outspoken critic of Japanese society's traditional demand for conformity.