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Tear Jerker / Grave of the Fireflies

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"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
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Perhaps the king of all anime movie Tear Jerkers, Grave of the Fireflies is a film about two children losing their parents to war, then starving to death in 1945. It was originally shown as a double feature with the completely dissimilar My Neighbor Totoro.

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

Warning!: All spoilers for Tear Jerker pages are unmarked.


  • 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.
  • 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 have 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 afterwards, which had the added Mood Dissonance with a family returning to find all of their possessions intact, while the pair we’d been following throughout the movie had lost everything.
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    • 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.
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    • As he witness the memory of Setsuko'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 belittle them, to her lack of sympathy when Setsuko's grief for her recently deceased mother 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. Keep in mind that this scene is one of the first things we see in the movie!
  • Seita's Fatal Flaw of pride results in him being Too Dumb to Live to properly care for his sister. He's fourteen years old, his mother died because his country is on the losing side of a war, and he is desperately overwhelmed trying to take care of Setsuko. The adults are all telling him to go back to his aunt and apologize to her so they can be properly cared for, but he's not old enough to understand that sometimes you have to forgo Honor Before Reason just to survive, even if it means that you have to go back to an Abusive Parent.
  • According to a YouTube commenter, the version they saw never included the Wham Line "Setsuko never woke up."
    That made it even worse, because I had hope that she was saved. Then you see flashback images of her playing and you fear the worst—right up until she gets put in a box. And then it’s like the world has ended and you forget who you are for 10 minutes.
  • One of Setsuko's last acts was to make Seita some "rice balls". Onigiri are simple Japanese comfort food. It evokes home, family, and food handmade with love - things the siblings had and lost.

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