Hotarubi no Mori e

Alt titles: To the Forest of Firefly Lights


Howlorihara's avatar By on Jul 9, 2012

The story is simple, yet beautiful.  A young girl named Hotaru comes across a spirit named Gin while lost in the forest.  Every summer, she comes to visit him and their relationship develops, complicated by the fact that Gin will disappear if he ever touches a human.  I wish I could rate the story higher.  The simplicity of the story is so charming but I don't believe it was drawn to a proper conclusion in 40 minutes.  There are so many parts to their relationship that I wanted to see explored.  The concept of age is brought up a lot, for good reason.  Hotaru is growing from a child into a young woman while Gin doesn't age from being a teenager.  I felt like this could have been utilized more.  For instance, I wanted to know what would happen to their relationship when Hotaru became an old woman and would someday die.  I wanted to see what would happen in another ending.  The possibilities were endless and I felt like the ending chosen was not the most interesting one.  I feel like a lot of development was sacrificed for the sake of the 40 minute time span.  However, in spite of this, I feel like the finished product was still heart wrenching and beautiful.  I definitely got a bit weepy near the end.
The animation for this show is very pretty.  It isn't the smoothest animation I've seen, nor is it the most unique.  Yet, the atmosphere set up was soft and soothing.  It really set up a forest that made me, as the audience, feel at peace.  The color pallet was light and natural.  I could obviously see that this show was not done to be the most beautiful anime in the world but it wasn't particularly flawed either.  The only part that bothered me was the hair.  The lines in the hair were sometimes overlapping in a way that is physically impossible for hair to accomplish.  However, if that is my main complaint with the animation, I can safely say that they did a good job.

I didn't really notice the sound to any great extent.  However, in this case it may not have been a flaw.  In every scene I was relaxed and completely immerced in these characters and the setting.  The music was soft and sweet.  It didn't call attention away from the characters and I believe that was the best approach they could have taken.

For this story being only 40 minutes, I found myself caring for these characters more than I did for animes that last for 50 or 100 episodes.  It didn't take much.  I so enjoyed Gin.  He was so forlorn but also took great appreciation in the girl that brightened his life, Hotaru.  There are parts of Hotaru's character that I don't entirely buy.  Firstly, since she is only able to see Gin during the summer, she has a majority of the year where she doesn't see him.  However, whenever the audience sees her away from Gin, she is pining for him.  I know that great love does make you desire to be with your loved one, however, she didn't really seem to have much of a life away from him.  People can be desperately in love and have jobs and hobbies.  I suppose, in a way, she was sort of stuck in time with Gin emotionally, but I don't think that the climax of the story really brought that theme out to the fullest.  I felt like more could have been done with Hotaru, but I am not disappointed for what was accomplished within the time frame.

This anime was so lovely to watch.  I wish I could have watched it longer but, for the short time I spent with this anime, I thank its creators for something lovely and emotional. 

8/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
Zutto's avatar By on Apr 10, 2012

I loved it, i loved it. But why is it so short! GOD WHY?!

The simpleness of this anime makes it so strong. Though why an ending like that.... It's pure torture.

I don't have much to say about it further, but if you are planning to watch it, then definitely do it.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
wildtygra221's avatar By on Nov 30, 2012

Without a doubt, "Hotarubi no Mori E" has become one of my favorite anime short in recent years. It stands on its own as its own entity and brings forth messages of frienship and appreciation of life that are not subtle, but illustrated beautifully in the backdrop of rural Japan.

The story is a simple one in which we have a glimpse of the friendship between Hotaru and the mysterious Gin as seasons pass. As they do so, it brings the elements of a blossoming love and how certain events of time stand out from others. I don't want to reveal too much because much like the stories that are depicted throughout Hotaru's life are experiences, watching "Hotarubi no Mori E" is in of itself an experience. The animation is gorgeous and has a simplistic quality. The use of light colors for spring contrast nicely with the brights used in the winter scenes. The lighting amplifies the quality of both the characters and the world they inhabit, especially during the festival scene.

One major point that stood out for me was the characters. The short has a running time of about 45 minutes and there are only two major characters in the piece. Before watching it, I wasn't sure how I was going to care enough about these characters in the time I was given. Boy, was I wrong. "Hotarubi no Mori E" gives the characters just enough depth for the viewers to care and grants both of them dynamic arcs that gradually unfold like the blossoming of a flower. It also granted the grace of me loving these characters in 1 episode and in 45 minutes, which is quite an accomplishment compared to most anime series. Over the course of 12 or 26 episodes, I have never found myself loving or caring about a character, let alone a relationship certain characters have that quickly. Granted, I can see how some wish that the piece was longer in providing different scenarios (ie. what happens during the time Hotaru doesn't meet Gin) or feel that the pacing was rushed. Honestly, I didn't have any of those problems and felt that "Hotarubi"'s focus was on the developing relationship between Hotaru and Gin and they definitely hit the mark. 

As for the sound, the music doesn't distract the viewer from the dialogue. I also enjoyed how they also used nature, which further strengthens the forest Gin lives as a place of home and as an invitation for Hotaru to Gin's world. The voice actors for both Gin and Hotaru are sublime: not hard on the ears and providing enough emotion for the emotional scenes. The balance between this and the humorous scenes are spot-on.

"Hotarubi no Mori E" provides an illustration of life itself in that it is a rare title that has made me experience its wide range of emotions. It's a must see for everyone and I also highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed "Mushi-Shi" or "Natsume Yujinchou."

10/10 story
10/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
KAWAIISWEET's avatar By on Sep 28, 2014

I really Love this Movie. 

The story was so moving and I acctually cried some times. The way the main charakter was close to eatch other yet so far away was just amazing. 

I hoped that the movie was longer because the endning was like "it cant end here" even tho the ending made this movie so great. I really recommend this move but be prepared to cry 

Thank you ror reading! 

10/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
PlatapusSpasmAK47's avatar By on May 20, 2012


The wonderful aspect of this story is the simplicity of it. In the short 45 minutes the story is fully developed, and since it is so simple, it is wonderfully paced. It isn't drawn out, but it has enough time to accomplish what it sets out to do. It has a predictable ending, but that doesn't take away from the plot at all, in fact, I actually appreciated the predictablilty. It didn't take any unecessary twists so the simplicity was preserved, and therefore the impact of the story hit harder.

The story actually almost feels like a long episode of Natsume Yujincho, which isn't all that surprising when you look at the staff behind this movie. But because of that it has a wonderful tranquil atmosphere that completely immerses you into the world and the story of the film.


It was gorgeous. I have seen better animation, but for all purposes, for the tranquil atmosphere of this movie, it fit wonderfully. The slightly washed out colors, the gorgeous landscape, it was all animated perfectly. And since most of the story is spent in a forest, the landscape is consistantly beautiful and consistant.


While no individual tracks made me gasp in awe, it set out to do what it needed. The soft piano music definitely helped established the calm atmosphere of the movie, and it was enjoyable to listen to as a whole.


This was the most enjoyable aspect of the movie. Within the 45 minutes, there is a lot of character development. As a girl, the main character is adorable, and manages to be cute without falling into a common archetype. She is delightfully inquisitive, and adorably absent minded. You see through the flash back of how her relationships buds with the youkai, and it is done subtly. Nothing is forced into your face, the incredible acting portrays everything you need to know without being directly said. The chemistry between the main characters is awesome. Their interactions feel completely natural, and because the show is slow paced, not forced at all.


Though the plot is simple, the show is executed very well. Despite its length the film undergoes all it needs to; character development, believable story. It's simplicity is actually what makes it so enjoyable, and it's slow pace further contributes to a peaceful atmosphere that entices its viewers. 

8/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
10/10 characters
8.5/10 overall