Hotarubi no Mori e – Review

Apparently the creators of animes believe everyone would automatically assume it’s winter as long as there are no cicadas seen on screen… Seriously, why have it to be always the cicadas?! I guess it’s the same with spring and Sakuras, these season-stereotypes are really used far too often.

Hotarubi no Mori e Review – Accidents Can Happen

I wouldn’t wanna call it a Natsume-spinoff but everyone who likes Natsume probably should watch this little movie. It’s only 45 minutes long and I would rather call it longer-than-average OVA than a full-blown movie. It definitely has the feel of a short-story instead of a big story with an epic message. Hotarubi is a rather quiet slice-of-life-movie with a romantic plot. And yeah, it’s good, really good.

Release-Date: 2012
Running Time: 45 minutes
Synopsis: When she was young, Hotaru was once lost when she played in the forest near her uncle’s place that she visits every summer. There, she had a fateful encounter with a spirit, who helped her even though he would disappear if a human being touches him. She began to visit him every summer, even as she grows; while he waits for the summer to come, for their time together to flow again.
– ANN.

In the world of Hotarubi spirits not only copy humans’ appearance and their cultural festivals but also their technology. Spirits truly seem to lack the imagination to have a culture of its own seemingly…

With most of the staff of the Natsume-anime-series behind it and Yuki Midorikawa being the original creator of the story Hotarubi no Mori offers a glimpse of what makes Natsume such a great slice-of-life-series. So basically if you liked Natsume or if you like Slice-of-Life with a bit of romance then you should watch this movie.
Hotarubi is a short movie with only 45 minutes but compared to Princess and Pilot this movie is a far more cohesive experience. It’s about Hotaru who meets as a girl this dude who’s a spirit. They meet each summer as Hotaru gets older. Since it’s slightly romantic she of course falls in love with him but there’s a problem: She can’t touch him because if any human would touch him he would disappear. Now this isn’t Romeo and Juliet where the romantic relationship is the centre of a conflict that needs to be resolved during the movie. Instead the moment of them loving each other but being unable to touch one another is only a moment but everything in this movie is building up towards this one moment. In that regard it’s definitely more a narrative resembling a short story since its focus is so small and limited.
The building-up is done in a very quiet manner and the world of Youkai has this peacefulness that you get to see in Natsume in its friendlier episodes (there are darker ones too in that series but overall it features the same atmosphere as this series). Character-wise you basically only get to see Gin and Hotaru talking to each other and sometimes you hear Hotaru’s thoughts. And this way of telling the story works because there aren’t any unnecessary distractions. All the story cares about is the relationship of the two so that’s all that matters.
You know from the very beginning that they can’t touch each other and it’s really well done how this story-element is used to show the two character’s relationship without being blunt and cheesy like most romance-animes do. Their relationship is basically founded on the development on how they both treat this limitation. Hotaru starts as this naïve child not really understanding the consequences of when she’s unthinkingly tries to touch him but that changes then to her fearing to touch him since she begins to care for him and in the end it closes off with her wanting to touch him since she fell in love with him. It’s also well represented from a directorial standpoint as each time Hotaru touches someone the camera focuses on that while in Gin’s case it’s shown how they avoid touching each other in the same kind of situation. That’s the kind of simple but subtle storytelling I would like to see more often in animes.

Like the ending the entire movie is rather quiet and laid-back in its atmosphere and lacks any real emotional drama. So it largely depends on what you expect this movie’s story to deliver whether you like the ending or not.

The only thing I didn’t like completely was the ending, not because it’s bad or anything but because I think this could’ve been a real movie of roughly ninety minutes long. The potential is there in the story. Also, I think the ending was far too simple and “nice” for the development to ever become truly dramatic instead of being just a little tension unseen under the surface. Naturally the style of the narrative was also far too quiet for this and it would’ve become quite a different experience and that’s why I don’t think it’s a flaw per se that I didn’t like the ending as much as I loved the build-up to it. What I would’ve liked to see would’ve been a more active decision on the part of Hotaru. Because she never had to deal with the problem after Gin confessed his frustration with the situation. And it’s there where the true dramatic final could’ve been found since the question is now: What will Hotaru do? She can give to his and her desire but make him disappear forever or she could grow old alongside him while never touching him. That’s the kind of romantic drama that could’ve made this a truly exceptional story, I think. Instead it’s just a very good little story.

Hotarubi no Mori e is a great little movie which is strongly reminiscent of the Natsume-series in terms of atmosphere and setting. Due to the shortness of the movie the focus rightfully lies on the two main-characters and their developing relationship. Thanks to a good direction and good storytelling this is a rather punctuated experience of a good slice-of-life story.

Rating: 8/10


About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on March 3, 2012, in Anime, Hotarubi no Mori e, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. I enjoy watching this movie a lot – I love the direction, story-telling and character-development. I like how the movie is simple, subtle yet strong enough to strike my emotional chords. I also like its choice of a romantic plot – we don’t see that a lot in the Natsume series.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yup. I cried my face off at the end. 🙂


  3. Do you know where can i watch it with english sub?


  4. Gin remembered me to Natsume, and–really–I cried!


  5. I proudly agree that this movie could be 90 minutes long, the only reason that this wasn’t a huge success was because it’s very short so it doesn’t build up emotional drama.
    AND THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IS THE KISS I mean sure he did an awesome move at putting on the mask and kissing her but … I NEED A REAL KISS DAMMIT! On top of a mountain cliff with the moon shining between them! Not just some random road. Send a report to the mountain god about his spell being suckish and sh**!

    And I haven’t read the 3 other volumes of the series.


    • Hmm, the ending was a bit abrupt with its accident-plottwist but preferable to a cheesy kissing scene, I think. Then again if it would’ve been 90 minutes long there could’ve been decent build-up to make even that scene work. *shrug* I guess for this short movie it’s good enough of an ending to not make the end a total letdown.


  6. I was so sad at the end. I mean he was human but got turned into a spirit and finally finds love with someone and can’t live life with her. It is heart breaking. They should make a series out of that. Maybe the mountain god could bring him back some how. But he would always be bound to the mountain in someway. But I don’t they would do something like that. I really loved this little movie. It was a heart breaker.


  7. Reblogged this on Unfold what's unseen. and commented:
    Literally made me tear up… I wish that stupid kid didn’t show up! </3


  8. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa?

    My site goes over a lot of the same topics as yours and I think we
    could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot me
    an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Wonderful blog by the way!


  9. Like any game, when we stay within the rules, we score,
    and when we play outside the rules there of course is a
    penalty. It should come as no surprise that i
    – Tunes is loaded full of pirate apps for i – Phone, i – Pod Touch, and i – Pad.
    In this addictive puzzle game, catch that damn fly and
    avoid those tricky obstacles.


  10. And indeed Robert has made the paramount sterling effort, guided by his
    mentor, with beads of perspiration on his brow, Robert has brought
    it in to the landing net. The 360 Series from Aqua-Vu is specifically designed with a rugged encasement for ice fishing.
    Garmin Accuracy and Innovation Leads You to the Fish.


  11. Good web site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!


  12. If some one needs expert view regarding blogging then i suggest him/her to go to see this web site, Keep up
    the pleasant work.


  13. My brother suggested I might like this website.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.

    You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent
    for this info! Thanks!


  14. I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this info for my mission.


  15. For most recent news you have to go to see internet and on internet
    I found this site as a best site for most up-to-date updates.


  16. Excellent site you have here.. It’s hard to find good quality
    writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you!
    Take care!!


  17. I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as
    no one else know such detailed about my difficulty.
    You’re wonderful! Thanks!


    • I can assure you that this article has not been written by your cousin. And so I have no idea what you’re talking about with this “difficulty”-thingy.
      Still, I appreciate you calling this review wonderful, I guess.


  18. I do not know whether it’s just me or if everybody else encountering problems
    with your blog. It appears as though some of the text on your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them
    as well? This might be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.



  19. Lovern shane

    Part two please 😦 its very hanging but the movie indeed.. i need part two pretty please 😢 i want to see hotaru and gin wll met again and by that they can touch one another 😉😢 please..part two Mr. / Mrs. Writer..


  20. if you’re going to look carefully at the beginning, Gin was there sitting waiting in the forest before the scene of Hotaru with her Mom. I guess the mountain god brought back Gin to life that’s why Hotaru is happy and excited to go back to that place and see him again.

    Just an opinion.


  1. Pingback: Hibike! Euphonium OVA: Dash, Monaka – Review | auroradownloads

Leave a Reply to Lovern shane Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: