Studio Ghibli fans surprised to find hidden images in Grave of the Fireflies anime poster

The new meanings revealed in this image, thirty years after the film’s release, have anime fans reaching for the tissues.

It’s been a sad month for anime fans after internationally acclaimed anime director and Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata passed away in Tokyo on 5 April, after being hospitalised for heart and health conditions during a long battle with lung cancer.

As tributes poured in for the 82-year-old, Nippon TV paid their respects to the accomplished director by broadcasting one of his most well-known films, Grave of the Fireflies, on national TV on 13 April. Known for its heavy content, depicting the lives of two siblings struggling to survive in the Japanese city of Kobe during World War II, anime fans knew to have the tissues nearby during the televised broadcast, but what they didn’t realise was that there was another heart-wrenching moment on the way for them, waiting to be discovered in one of the promotional posters for the film.

The poster, which has now become a hot topic on chat forums in Japan, appears to show the two main characters of Seita and Setsuko sharing a rare moment of joy while surrounded by a field of fireflies.

Instagram Photo

This particular poster has been around since the film’s release thirty years ago in 1988, so fans wouldn’t normally think twice about looking into the details of the already-familiar image. One Twitter user, however, has now caused a stir online by unveiling a hard-to-see object in the darkness, which gives the poster a whole new meaning and a poignant sadness that many fans are seeing for the very first time.

The lightened image on the right of the tweet clearly shows a warplane in the sky above the children’s heads; a striking detail that’s easy to miss on first glance in the original poster. What’s even more heartbreaking is the implications of the plane on our initial reading of the image, which @comicloverhouse mentions in his accompanying text:

“I just read a theory that the fireflies in the Grave of the Fireflies poster aren’t all insects, so I analysed the image and it’s really true. I never knew about this.”

Given that the movie contains a number of scenes showing Japan being firebombed, it becomes clear that the differently shaped lights glowing in the night sky show not only fireflies but bombs from the air raids as well.

With tens of thousands of likes and retweets for @comicloverhouse‘s tweet, Ghibli fans have been expressing their surprise at the revelation.

“Wow. I’ve seen this picture a hundred times before but never seen these details.”
“So the round lights are fireflies and the longer ones are firebombs? That’s a heartbreaking image.”
“It’s amazing that they could conceal these types of details in a poster.”
“So “fireflies” has a double meaning…”
“Is that why they use the kanji for “fire” and “dangle” to mean “fireflies” in the title?”

It’s true that the movie title in Japanese, “Hotaru no Haka“, is written out as “火垂るの墓“, which uses  (hi), the kanji for fire, and (tareru) which describes something dangling down, like a droplet of water about to fall from a leaf, to make up the word hotaru, which means firefly in Japanese. Ordinaily, hotaru is written out in its own kanji – 蛍 – so the double meaning in the title actually references the incendiary bombs, which appear on the poster.

Instagram Photo

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know how important the firefly motif is, not only to the animated scenes onscreen, but also to the storyline, with the short lives of the insects symbolising the young lives lost during war. While the firefly/firebomb reference is clear to see once it’s been pointed out, its initial subtlety and the understated subtext are great examples of the small details that make Studio Ghibli films stand out in the anime film world.

To uncover some more of the studio’s secret details, don’t forget to check out this video here, which reveals all the Easter eggs hidden inside Ghibli films!

Source: Otakomu
Featured image: Instagram/ryuzi_kobayashi

Anime fan shares ingenious lifehack to hang posters without putting holes in your walls

Cool trick lets you swap posters in seconds, won’t damage the walls of your home or the beautiful anime art.

One of the unique things about being an anime fan is that your hobby tends to have a big effect on your interior decorations. Whether it’s anime figures, plushies, or posters, just about every hard-core fan has a bit of anime-related artwork on display in his or her home.

But while you can simply line figures up on a shelf or plop plushies down on the sofa, posters present a special problem. They need to be hung in order to be appreciated, but that means one of two things. You could use a pin, but do you really want to pierce the poster’s art? Even if you use the pinhead to hold the corner of the poster in place without making a hole in the paper, you’re still putting a hole in the wall behind it. Alternatively, you can use tape, which will spare the wall, but should you ever need to take the poster down and reposition it, odds are you’re going to rip the paper when you try to take the tape off.

But anime fan and Japanese Twitter user @krsm_ttt has an ingenious idea that doesn’t require you to put a hole in anything or attach adhesives of any kind to your posters.

First, take a paper clip, or any other small metal item. Next, use a short length of masking tape to tape the clip to the wall. Once you’ve got four clips in place, place the poster against the wall, with one corner on top of each clip, and put magnets on top of the paper. The magnetic pull will cause the magnets and clips to stick to one another, firmly gripping your poster in between them.

Online commenters were impressed by the simple solution to their poster-hanging woes, and responded with:

“What a great idea.!”
“Thank you so much. Going to go try this right now.”
“I felt so bad for my poster when I stuck a pin through it that I kept telling it ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’”
“Brilliant.”
“Can’t hit that like button enough times to truly show how great this is.”

The only potential drawback that was brought up is that the coils of the paper clips could cause slight creasing in the paper due to their irregular shape. But even if that’s a concern, any small metal object should do the trick, making @krsm_ttt’s idea a great way to cover your walls with anime art without filling them with holes.

Source: Jin
Top image: Twitter/@krsm_ttt

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s wondering where he put his Kimagure Orange Road wall scroll.

Japanese rail company uses ukiyo-e posters to ask commuters to mind their manners on the train

The ever-growing series of traditional artworks is grabbing everyone’s attention for its beauty and humour.

One of the many things we love about Japan is the way that art blends into everyday public life. Whether it’s custom-wrapped trains, plastic food replicas, or Hello Kitty-adorned construction sites, everywhere you look there are eye-catching images that inadvertently grab our attention.

One place that’s particularly well-known for its arty posters and banners is the Japanese rail system. Here, we’ve seen “manner posters” that ask commuters to refrain from things like eating and manspreading, but now there’s a brand new type of manner poster on the rail network that’s got everyone talking.

Inspired by traditional ukiyo-e woodblock prints, the new series from Seibu Railways is called “Denshanai Meiwaku-zue (電車内迷惑図絵), a title in line with traditional ukiyo-e naming conventions, which translates to “Picture of Annoyances Inside the Train”.

▼ The first poster in the collection is “Please let others sit comfortably“.

The second print in the series, called “Please turn down your volume“, features groups of chattering animals, harking back to the style of Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831–1889), an acclaimed caricaturist known for his images of demons and animals.

The third instalment in the series is “Please do not rush onto the trains“. This beautiful sakura-themed print features the star of a well-known ukiyo-e painting from 1794 called “Otani Oniji III in the Role of the Servant Edobei”, which was painted by Tōshūsai Sharaku. The top-knotted gent with the splayed hands has now been inserted into a set of train carriage doors, with his dramatic expression making him an example of what not to do when boarding a train.

▼ The new Edo-era style posters with a “ukiyo-e touch” can be found on banners inside train carriages…

▼ And at train stations on the Seibu rail network.

Seibu Railways have been releasing one new poster in the series seasonally, so we’re looking forward to seeing more of these intriguing new designs in the future. Judging by other Japanese rail etiquette campaigns, we still need to be cautioned about things like wearing backpacks and walking while using smartphones, so we can’t wait to see what that looks like in the world of ukiyo-e!

Source: Artist Database
Featured image: Seibu Group (edited by RocketNews24)

Insert images: Seibu Group