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Grave of the Fireflies

Released in 1988, the same year as My Neighbour Totoro, Grave Of The Fireflies is widely considered the finest and most emotionally devastating of Studio Ghibli's beautifully crafted animations. In September 1945, a janitor rifles through the possessions of a recently deceased boy and throws out some ashes and bones from a tin. These remnants spark to life as the spirits of 14-year-old Seita (voiced by Tsutomu Tatsumi) and his younger sister Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi), who were caught in the devastating attacks on the city of Kobe during the final months of the Second World War. In flashback, we witness the anguish of Seita and Setsuko as American bombers blitz Kobe, transforming the city into a flaming hell, which ultimately claims the life of the children's mother (Yoshiko Shinohara). Orphaned in a war zone, the siblings seeks sanctuary with an aunt (Akemi Yamaguchi) but are eventually left to fend for themselves, releasing fireflies into a makeshift shelter for light as they scramble through the rubble for food and water.