Intrigued by the tale of a mountain god, six-year-old Hotaru Takegawa loses her way in the ancient forest while visiting her uncle. Exhausted and desperate for help, Hotaru is thrilled to find a masked forest spirit named Gin. She learns the hard way that she should not touch the boy, or he would disappear. In spite of this, Gin leads Hotaru out of the forest and warns her never to return when she promises to come again with a gift.
Paying no heed to his cautionary words, and despite being separated by both distance and planes of existence, Hotaru and Gin become close friends as she visits him every summer. However, their relationship and resolve are put to the test, when romantic feelings conflict with the one and only rule.
Based on Yuki Midorikawa's manga of the same name, Hotarubi no Mori e is a tale of friendship and compromise of two people who should never have crossed paths, as their lives become hopelessly intertwined.
"It is sad not to love, but it is much sadder not to be able to love." The words uttered by Miguel de Unamuno become unusually symbolic when we think of them in the context of Hotarubi no Mori e. The romance genre has grown stiff over the centuries - and some may even imply that any originality in that peculiar type of works has depleted, that nothing fresh and original can be created when basically everything is a cliché these days. Well then, I'm truly glad I can say that whoever sports that belief is in the wrong. The evidence: Hotarubi no Mori e.
How much emotion and feelings can be put into a small vessel? As Shakespeare and his cycle of sonnets taught us - you don't need much space (or time) to deliver a powerful blast of vivid emotions. And this film needed circa forty minutes to revive within me certain emotions, which I believed I had managed to cast aside long time ago. In our era, the concept of love seems to be incomplete and - I dare to say - a bit off the mark. Love is now an emotion which is the theme for a vast majority of pop songs - those pseudo-deep lyrics of them, even when combined in a single entity, still won't tell you nearly as much as Hotarubi no Mori e in several lines of dialogue and 40 minutes of animation. It's not overly deep or anything, it doesn't require your utmost attention to get a general gist, no - that's not the case here. It's a simple, effective, well-thought story with a warm sensation lurking behind it; a slow-paced story of love in its truest, platonic form. And now let us take a more detailed view on the whole.
Images are a powerful means of conveying information--and feelings as well. And no major issues can be found in this regard - on the contrary, the visual aspect of this film is praiseworthy, and a few things need to be pointed out. First of all - a genuinely perfect playing with scenery. It refers a tad to the script - but still, presenting the two (Gin and Hotaru) all alone in a forest was a glimpse of genius. The motif is neatly exposed - they are alone with each other, there's no one around them... and yet they're not together. Because touching someone is like confirming their existence - and even that much is not allowed to them. But not to sway of the topic too much - the exceptional words of admiration should be directed at the background scenery. Rich in details, properly animated, not breaking the decorum of the entirety. But only a little less can be said about the character design - rich in expressions, not overly static, presenting the character quite well... to sum it all up, I'll just say that I wasn't left speechless - but what speech was left to me--it was the praising alone.
Sounds are as important as images - if not more - so we should pay a close attention to this aspect of the film as well. Voicing was done fairly well, though there's nothing to cry tears of delight over, so let's just say that it was perfectly fine. But what really caught my attention was music. And goodness me, my ears still are in awe of what they heard an hour ago. Due to the limited time of the film, it's perfectly obvious and natural that the number of songs wouldn't be very impressive. But what matters is their quality - which in this case wouldn't be paid a proper recognition if I didn't call it top-notch. Those few instrumental pieces were enough to build up a desired setting, and reflected what was happening on the screen in a truly illustrative way. Especially the theme of the festival deserves my utmost recognition - it sure did manage to deliver a number of various emotions. All in all, both music and voices in this film aced the test.
Characters are inseparably connected with plot in this very case, so I think that they shouldn't... no, mustn't be regarded as two different aspects. To give a brief summary of events - a young girl meets a boy, who is in fact a spirit dwelling in the forest. The boy, however, mustn't be touched by a human, for it would result in him disappearing for all eternity. They spend the summer days with each other, and when the girl must return to home from her vacation, she promises to visit him again next summer. And that's eactly what she does - for the next few years. During that time she grows up, and her age is slowly getting closer to the age of the boy (who due to being a spirit doesn't age or ages very slowly). And then, one summer, comes the grande finale - he invites her to a spirit festival, during which he touches a human kid who tripped himself and was about to fall. Then, for as much as a few seconds, the two people who loved each other are able to touch, sense, confirm the object of their love. And after what seemed to be a blink of an eye... he's gone. He's not there - his mask left behind as the only proof of his existence. To love, yet not to be able to.
The story itself isn't something unique, or exceptional - as I have already mentioned, everything comes down to emotions. I was also surprised at the existence of a modified hamartia - just by the existence of the flaw, we can reason that there's no happy ending, and the inevitable must happen (unless we would get to see some Deus Ex Machina coming and saving the day).
I'm about to say something seemingly irrelevant, but in fact it will be the most important thing of all what I've said thus far. Whenever the question "why do you watch anime" arises, people and their answers can be divided into 2 groups. Those who claim to watch anime for cute girls doing cute things in a cute way, and those who claim to watch anime for plot. To truly notice the value of Hotarubi no Mori e, you must - like me - belong to neither of them. I watch anime to notice, to perceive, to experience - to get to feel that what I watch is worthwhile. To feel those emotions oozing from a series. And no - it's not the same as watching for plot - there exists a division called "4 levels of meaning". Plot per se, is the first - literal - level, so you could say that albeit important, it doesn't play the main role. And in fact - what matters is emotions, and feelings hidden behind the curtain. And with Hotarubi no Mori e, you are able to tore down the curtain completely, and observe how those emotions start to have an influence on you. It's a beautiful thing, and it alone is of a great value. Because - to quote a recurring sentence from Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru, "without love, it cannot be seen."read more
"Time might separate us some day. But, even still, until then, let's stay together." -Hotaru Takegawa
Time is cruel. Time is responsible for the summers that come and go, for the leaves in autumn that shrivel and fall to the ground at the mercy of the next toddler looking to create satisfying crunching sounds, for the long and cold winters.
You come to love the smell of rain in the spring or the cool breeze of a summer night and then poof. It's gone.
Much like a fleeting summer's day, the main characters in Hotarubi no Mori e are bound by the chains of time. He cannot leave the forest for fear of being touched by a human and she cannot see him until three seasons have passed and summer comes again. And so, the two spend time together when they can, and as she grows up with him she realizes there will come a day when time will yet again become their enemy.
Their time together is short, meaningful and ultimately bittersweet. Much like the anime itself.
Hotarubi no Mori e is a beautiful movie that takes the idea of forbidden love, a topic that has been overly done and worn out by bad soap-opera themed dramas, and remakes the idea in an elegant, refreshing manner. Much of the brilliance in this anime can be accredited to the captivating character and background designs as well as the honesty that shines through in the writing. The anime pulls us viewers in with dramatic music and writing while keeping everything light and down-to-earth. And it does all of this in a mere 45 minutes.
Forbidden love, playful love, intense love, a love that is not love. With all of these takes on love, can we really be sure of what love is? Simply put, love is a universal... well, for lack of a better word, thing.
Nobody really knows what love is but everyone has their own interpretation of the word. Plato once said, "at the touch of love, everyone is a poet". And it's true. The concept of love is incredibly popular and you can probably find more pieces of literature or entertainment that center around love than any other genre. This anime specifically has taken the idea of a physical love and completely thrown it out of the window, all the while proving with gusto that love doesn't have to be physical to be just as emotionally impacting.
You see, the anime focuses on the more important ideas about love that maybe we've all kind of forgotten.
Like the happiness you feel when you're near them.
Like the first time you saw them laugh.
Like when it's suffocating to be with them because you don't know what to do or say.
Hotarubi no mori e gracefully weaves these elements into a heartbreaking tale of a first love. Sure, it's lighthearted and even a little fun, but a love founded on emotions is the heaviest burden you can imagine.
As stated before, the art this anime is nothing short of breath-taking. The designers definitely knew what they were doing when it came to setting the mood with soft pastel colors or adding bursts of colors to enhance a scene. Although it wasn't exactly memorable, the art did help to add an extra element of beauty. Similarly, the soundtrack to this anime was also very fitting and nice. Especially the ending song, "Natsu wo Miteita" (I saw summer) which had the feel of summer that is longed for but will never return. The art and sound really worked together well with what was happening on screen. Everything fit together perfectly like puzzle pieces.
To end this review, I will rebound back to the very beginning and touch upon the subject of love again with our two main characters Hotaru and Gin. What makes this anime so special, what makes it stand out from all of the others that claim to give you the true meaning of love is that it's believable and honest, despite having the supernatural theme of spirits. Despite their wishes, the two are bound by circumstances that are out of their control.
They cannot touch.
They cannot see each other outside of the forest.
They are reunited in the summer and are separated in the fall, over and over again.
And against all odds, they try their best to maintain the connection they've built through years of playing in the grassy fields, spending time by the lake on a warm summer night talking in hushed voices or confiding in one another under the light of the fireflies -- a connection stronger than any kind of physical love can ever provide.
The ending may come as a shock to you. Having read the premise, and a few other stories with similar plots, it didn't come as a shock to me. And although I knew it was coming, I couldn't stop myself from crying when it did. This anime was touching and nostalgic. I know it was good because I was left with an empty feeling after watching it -- like the feeling of longing after something that time has already taken away.
Like the ever-changing seasons, this anime will pull you in, get you attached to the characters, make you love it and then...poof. It'll end.
I am not great at writing reviews, but I am trying to get better so please bare with me on this one. Hope you like my review though ^^ ok so lets get on with it.
I started to watch this because it was written by Yuki Midorikawa. I loved her previous work "Natsume Yuuchinjou" and I was hoping this would be another good anime to pass my time on. I was not wrong.
I am sure that on this movie there are many reviewers who has retold the summary of this story in their own review which I am going to skip over because I am pretty sure you get the gist of it.
The whole plot was well put together. Even though the movie was only 40 mins. long, it did not seem rushed at all. Every scene flowed well into place.
BEWARE: READ ANY FURTHER AND THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS!!
The characters were well played and none of them annoyed me, which is a plus point for me. It was really heartbreaking to see both Gin and Hotaru growing up to be good friends and eventually falling in love. Seeing them both struggling to hold each other and feel each other's warmth did make my eyes water.
Whenever I watch any anime, I am really careful about the ending because even though an anime could be great, the ending could really kill the whole story for me. But the ending on this movie was too good. Though it would be better if they could get together, but that did not happen...it was still beautiful though!
I definitely recommend this!! Can't wait to see what Yuki Midorikawa comes up with next! ^^read more
For something with a pretty basic romantic storyline, Hotarubi no Mori e pulled it off pretty well.
It's easy to follow; a young girl gets lost in an enchanted forest, she meets a spirit, they become friends, they grow up together every summer, they fall in love, and then their love ends. Pretty basic, huh? That's what I loved about it. It was a comfortable watch, you didn't have to think about it too much, but all the emotion is still there.
The script is well written, interspersed with the right amount of humour, with natural conversation flowing between the two main characters. It seems like a typical shoujo anime, heck it probably is your typical shoujo anime, but in the 45 minute runtime, you really see a relationship develop, with no unnecessary drama, following the two mains as they grow together and fall in love together.
Really, I think that's what makes it so damn sad at the end.
You watch it, accustomed with Hotaru and Gin being by each other's sides for most of the screentime. For the times when Hotaru is back at home for school, her longing for the summer and of Gin is heart-wrenching and a reminder of the feeling of falling in love slowly, with someone you've known your entire life. The development behind the characters themselves, Gin slowly becoming more open in the face of a human, when before he was guarded and distrusting of them, and Hotaru, maturing from a hyperactive young girl into a young woman who continues on without the being that she loved, is incredible, and again, one of the best parts of this film is watching the characters grow.
However, the film does not forget its subtle, but noticeable baseline that this good thing will end. From the beginning, you know that it will end in tragedy, with Gin's condition of being 'alive' as such dependent on a lack of physical human contact. This condition hangs like the sword of Damocles throughout the entire film, but when it finally falls, you don't expect it, and it's a real stab to the heart.
Again, the script remains triumphant through all of this. Romantic lines between Hotaru and Gin don't feel forced, nor do their actions and interactions. Hotaru's small monologue at the end was beautifully written, and the voice acting was brilliant; Ayane Sakura captures Hotaru's grief, but also her strength in knowing that she was loved, and she is forced to move on.
The animation is spot on, with the forest coming alive in vibrant greens and golds from the sunlight streaming through the leaves. When watching this, appreciate the background, because despite the beautiful character designs, the forest setting comes to life and draws you into the film and away from reality. The festival itself at the end is beautiful and vibrant, full of life and detail, whilst not overpowering what is the main focus of its scene; Hotaru and Gin's romance.
I loved it. I cried a lot. It was sort of bittersweet, and even though it was a simple story, a basic romance story, it was still hard-hitting at the end. The best thing about this film is its ability to connect you with the characters, and to experience what they are feeling as well.
Give this a watch, you won't regret it. But make sure you have a box of tissues at the ready, it's a real tearjerker.