As anyone who has seen the film will tell you, Grave Of The Fireflies is sad as hell. Adapted for the screen and directed by the recently deceased Isao Takahata, the story follows two siblings in Japan during World War II who struggle to survive on their own after their home city of Kobe is destroyed by incendiary bombs. It’s the kind of movie you might watch because you’re starting to get into anime and think to yourself, “These Studio Ghibli movies are always pretty fun!” Next thing you know, your soul has been broken in two and you can’t stop crying. Now, on the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, some have discovered that even the film’s poster was darker than we realized.
At first glance, the poster seems to depict the teenage Seita and his younger sister Setsuko playing in a cloud of fireflies. The scene depicted is one of the few moments of happiness the siblings share as they fend off starvation in the Japanese countryside. But, as noted in the tweet above, “when you turn the brightness all the way up, you’ll see a B-29 bombing plane in the sky. What was thought as miracle lights of fireflies were really a rain of explosives.”
As one user on Twitter succinctly put it, “Holy shit.”
Like the film itself, the poster creates a haunting juxtaposition between the innocent playfulness of childhood and the truly unimaginable horrors of war. But, also like the film, the poster isn’t upfront about the fact that this is the kind of movie you’re getting into. The darkness is a bit obscured, which makes it that much more devastating when it all comes crashing down.
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