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Akiyuki Nosaka (1930–2015)

Author of Grave of the Fireflies [1988 film]

16+ Works 523 Members 20 Reviews

About the Author

Image credit: Akiyuki Nosaka (boekomslag)


Works by Akiyuki Nosaka

Associated Works

The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (2018) — Contributor — 329 copies


Common Knowledge



freixas | 7 other reviews | Mar 31, 2023 |
3+ stars
I really wanted to like this book a lot, but it just didn't happen. An outstanding film was made by Studio Ghibli based on one of this author's stories: Grave of the Fireflies. That story is not included here, and I had never read that story. As far as I could tell this present collection of 12 stories is the only available book that has been translated into English excepting for an earlier version that had 7 stories according to info at the back of this book. However, I did find online what appears to be Grave of the Fireflies, translated, here: https://www.gwern.net/docs/anime/1978-nosaka.pdf. I skimmed this and it is very recognizable as the story in the film. Well written, too.

This collection, if you look around, gets almost entirely 4 and 5 star reviews and is heaped with praise. I'm not at a loss, but I just don't think it was that praiseworthy. Events are somewhat repetitive. A couple of these stories are rather weak - either imperfectly translated or poorly written in the first place, or both. I would say these are children's stories and deal with the end of World War II, primarily in Japan and the effect on everything but especially children and animals. Death, starvation, towns and cities razed to nothingness over and over, there is a lot of it. Each story is dated August 15, 1945, the day the story ends. That is the day that Victory over Japan was declared and Emperor Hirohito announced over the radio airwaves that Japan had surrendered. It was the first time the general public had ever heard the Emperor speak. It is an interesting and odd speech of surrender https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiGtQ8mu1qc

But I digress ... these are sad and depressing stories that will tug at you.

I read the first two stories early this year and put the book aside. I re-read them this time along with all the stories.

The 12 stories are:

The Whale That Fell in Love with a Submarine
The Parrot and the Boy
The Mother That Turned Into a Kite
The Old She-Wolf and the Little Girl
The Red Dragonfly and the Cockroach
The Prisoner of War and the Little Girl
The Cake Tree in the Ruins
The Elephant and Its Keeper
A Soldier's Family
My Home Bunker
A Balloon in August
The Soldier and the Horse

I thought "The Old She-Wolf and the Little Girl" was a really good story and possibly my favorite. This one was set in China with the Japanese fleeing at the end of the war as the Soviets attack. Very sad story with a very sad end.

In "The Elephant and Its Keeper", which was first published in 1975 the author writes: "Too many undernourished people and animals appear in these stories, I know, but it was wartime, after all."

"A Balloon in August" was about the Japanese plan to attack the American mainland with fire balloons. Interesting.
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RBeffa | Aug 29, 2022 |
Me dejo helado este punto de vista de los japoneses sobre lo maa crudo de la guerra, bien escrito, con un primer cuento fuerte y un segundo hasta conciliador si se quiere pero con evidencias de la post guerra, lindo libro ire a ver la tumba de las luciernagas de ghibli
Enzokolis | 4 other reviews | Jan 17, 2022 |
Heartbreaking. This is an animation movie about the American bombing of Japan and its aftermath. Not for children. Based on the autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka.
Eurekas | 7 other reviews | Aug 11, 2021 |



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Associated Authors

Yoshifumi Kondō Animation director
Michio Mamiya Composer
Patrick de Vos Translator
Dolf Koning Translator


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