10 More Historical and Family-Driven Narratives!
Where My Neighbor Totoro feels like Miyazaki on a good day, Grave of the Fireflies is him on a terrible one. This anime gives viewers strong depictions of war in Japan and the horrors that stem from it. It follows two siblings named Setsuko and Seita who’ve lost everything from their parents to their home. They wander Japan hoping to meet peaceful people who’ll take them in. Unfortunately, things don’t turn out as bright for them as you’d like.
Fear not if you’re having trouble finding anime similar to Grave of the Fireflies! We’ve discovered 10 alternate shows that’ll give you a similar experience as Grave of the Fireflies.
Additionally, for each anime we’ve reviewed, we’ve included a link that allows you to view our full thoughts about the series to see if it’s worth your time.
So without further ado, we present 10 TV shows that should whet your appetite when you’ve finished streaming Grave of the Fireflies!
In This Corner of the World
Similarities – Historical War Films
In This Corner of the World is another anime that features horrid depictions of war. While it features lighthearted themes of family, love, and hope it transitions to its serious topics naturally. Grave of the Fireflies carries a darker tone than this anime and has more scenes that elicit a tear-jerking response from audiences.
Nonetheless, both anime contain marvelous casts and handle their war-like themes sufficiently. In This Corner of the World follows Suzu, who enjoys helping her grandmother with business matters. When she reaches the right age, Suzu leaves and marries Houjou. She finds it challenging to adjust to her husband’s household.
As the war effort starts affecting Suzu’s newfound livelihood, viewers will get to see how she reacts to her newfound dilemma. With its incredible drama, historical themes, and alluring characters, In This Corner of the World is an excellent modern anime to watch.
Similarities – Story, Tone, Historical
Barefoot Gen is an unknown work cherished by retro anime fans. This anime delves into the horrors of war and has its protagonist encounter nightmarish scenarios that’ll hit close to home with several viewers. This anime takes place during the peak of WWII and Japan’s in a horrid, miserable state.
At the center is our child protagonist Gen. He’s a lively boy who lives in Hiroshima. Despite their struggle to maintain resources and cope with the war effort, Gen and his family are hopeful that the conflict will conclude. Unfortunately, they’ll soon discover that their fate’s already been determined when a U.S. atomic bomb drops, murdering everyone in sight.
This film’s heartbreaking and relentless with its nightmarish imagery. You’ll feel devastated by the visuals that appear on screen as people plea for their lives to go unscathed. It’s a horrifying film that captures the real issues people faced during this saddening time. If you’re up to getting your heart torn apart by this emotionally numbing anime, check it out.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Similarities – Story & Characters
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is another work that’ll tug at your heart. This anime features sibling protagonists who hope the escape the catastrophe’s taking place in their home environment. It presents many heartbreaking obstacles for our characters to triumph over and many scenes that’ll elicit a strong emotional response from you.
This story follows Mirai, a girl whose fed up with her family’s situation and wishes everything was destroyed. Moments later, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake appears to fulfill Mirai’s wishes. Fortunately for Mirai and her little brother Yuuki, they travel to Odaiba to attend a robot exhibition. They witness the earthquake shake the Kanto region and destroy everything from the streets and buildings.
Along the way, Mirai and Yuuki meet Mari, who’s set on returning them to their families. We watch their bond develop over time and witness the catastrophe brought upon by this earthquake. If you’re in search of another series that evokes a strong sense of realism, fear, and anguish, check out Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.
Rainbow: Criminal Seven of Compound Two Cell Six
Similarities – Atmosphere & Themes
Rainbow: Criminal Seven of Compound Two Cell Six (Rainbow) is a character-driven work at its core. It evokes strong themes of brotherhood and sacrifice. Despite our characters coming from differing backgrounds, this anime knows how to build upon our cast’s relationship as they strive to escape their imprisonment.
This anime follows six teenagers who’ve been sent to a reform school because of their crimes. At the school, they’ll establish a bond with a former boxer named Rokurouta. With his guidance, they hope to escape their hopeless situation. This anime features some lighthearted comedy and inspirational dialogue that’ll move you.
Rainbow also tackles war from a mature angle. Viewers can expect harsh depictions of war in this work like with Grave of the Fireflies. If you’re looking for an entertaining war-like anime with an incredible cast, check this one out.
Now and Then, Here and There
Similarities – Emotional Roller Coasters
Now and Then, Here and There is a fantastic fantasy series. This anime enjoys toying with viewers’ heads and emotions. It’ll leave you reflecting on what you’ve watched, questioning the ideals it conveys with its dialogue and gloomy environments. From its melancholy soundtrack to its well-developed cast, this is an ancient gem worth watching.
Like Setsuko and Seita, Now and Then, Here and There’s protagonist Shum, feels like a victim in this fantasy world. Despite being an isekai anime, this one features strong depth and drama akin to what you’d find in Grave of the Fireflies. Although Shuu wishes to fill this land’s people with hope, he’ll only wind up feeling more depressed in the long term.
If you’re looking for a heartbreaking isekai anime that goes against what you know of the genre today, check this one out.
Similarities – Story, Characters, Drama
This is another anime with horrifying depictions of war. Giovanni’s Island slowly gets its viewers prepared for its heartbreaking material, unlike Grave of the Fireflies. Instead of starting off with bombs dropping or guns blazing, it begins with a bright sky, indicating how peaceful life is for our characters.
Like Grave of the Fireflies, our characters aren’t ready for the danger looming over them. This is a heartbreaking tale about two children who form a cross-cultural relationship during a lethal war. Although they’re filled with immense determination and hope, they’ll succumb to many horrid outcomes throughout their journey that’ll test them mentally and physically.
With some incredible drama, suspense, and painful visuals, you’re guaranteed to get choked up while watching Giovanni’s Island.
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
Similarities – Drama & Atmosphere
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (Anohana) is a gut-wrenching anime. It will make you cry, laugh, and smile. It’s a tale about friendship and letting go of the past. It handles these concepts well and paints a beautiful narrative worth following from beginning to end. In it, we follow Jinta, a boy whose not living the best life.
Instead of attending school or meeting friends, he spends his life wallowing away in his room. This is due to his friend Menma passing away when they were kids. However, when Menma’s ghost appears, Jinta decides to forgo his shut-in lifestyle and make peace with his former companions. With their help, he hopes to help Menma’s ghost ascend into heaven.
Those who’ve experienced loss or heartbreak will form a spiritual connection with this world. With its powerful drama, emotional atmosphere, and breathtaking visuals, Anohana promises to impress you.
Who’s Left Behind
Similarities – Historical Dramas
Who’s Left Behind offers more war-like drama told from a child’s perspective. This anime contains strong historical themes and features captivating drama that’ll make you tense. The art style shares striking similarities with Grave of the Fireflies as many may question if this is a spin-off of it.
This anime follows a young girl named Kayoko. She’s a young girl, cherished for her innocence, and lives with her three older brothers and pregnant mother. The war effort’s growing rapidly at this time, so Kayoko makes subtle contributions to it despite her age. However, when she grows older and realizes the detrimental effect it had on her life, Kayoko grows weary of it.
This anime’s based on the real-life experiences of its author, Kayoko Ebina. Our characters experience realistic struggles during the war effort that’ll hit home with others who’ve been through a similar time. If you’re looking for another war anime with authentic depictions of war, give Who’s Left Behind a watch.
Similarities – Themes
Wolf Children is a great family anime. It features impressive visuals, stellar animation, and strong life messages. Despite feeling more cheery than Grave of the Fireflies at times, this anime’s not afraid to get serious and realistic. Its protagonist, Hana, struggles a lot to keep her children happy and pleased with their new lifestyle.
She must monitor, care for, and treat them without her husband in her life. This will hit home with many folks who grew up in single-parent households. While the problems Hana’s faces aren’t as severe as the ones Setsuko and Seita endure, Hana’s dilemmas will strike at your core. On the flip side, fans can expect a pleasant ending from Wolf Children.
If you’re in need of a more joyful anime series revolving around a strong family, check out Wolf Children.
Similarities – Mature & Emotional Storytelling
Don’t let this anime’s cover photo fool you. While it looks child-friendly, Ringing Bell can get deep and depressing. It feels like a grittier version of Bambi if he grew up to become a deranged murderous mammal. This anime tackles themes of revenge, maturity, and determination well and follows a likable protagonist named Chirin.
Chirin is a newborn lamb who loves frolicking in the meadow with his mom. One day, a wolf named Wor murders Chirin’s mother in front of other lambs and their offspring. To avenge his mother, Chirin travels to Wor’s hideout to become his apprentice. Hoping to become strong enough to make Wor pay, Chirin will abandon his joyful lamb life to become a cold-hearted murderer.
This anime contains strong violence and tackles tragedy from a respectable angle. If you’re looking for a mature work featuring an animal-only cast, check out Ringing Bell.
So there we have it, our 10 anime/TV show alternatives to watch when you’ve caught up with Grave of the Fireflies!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!