Ok, enough is enough. I've read way too many posts, reviews, and whatnot about Hotarubi no Mori e. Meaning, I'm here to simply rant, based on whatever I know and whatever I felt after watching the short; I'm not here to bash anyone, despite how rough I might seem in the general tone of this post.
Why do people focus on the human element in that short? It is not about growing up, coming of age, goodbye-childhood; I don't think Midorikawa-sama wanted to emphasize the human, the common element. Ever read Noh plays? Ever read Zeami's Noh plays with yokai? Well that's what I'm talking about. I think we have witnessed a kind of evolution of yugen, or rather, an adaptation of yugen to present days (well this 'adaptation' has been noticed a long time ago, starting with probably Kurosawa and his Ikiru movie; it's just that it's the first time I actually sense yugen in an anime). Noh plays are not written anymore, but the manga and anime phenomena continue to bloom despite their so to say, age. So, why not apply to those what Zeami created hundreds of years ago? Why not create something with enough yugen that would even make Zeami himself take his hat off?
What I'm saying is that, Hotarubi no Mori e is a short about yokai. About how human the yokais can be. And that is exactly what Zeami wanted to show in his plays: he did not want to create yokai void of any human feelings, scary and powerful; he emphasized the suffering, the longing, the melancholic part of the yokais. He called that yugen. A beautiful woman is beautiful. But a beautiful woman bathing in the moonlight somehere on a shore, longing for her lover is beyond beautiful, it is yugen. A scary yokai somewhere in a forest, hunting and scaring people away is ok, frightening. But a yokai longing for human touch, when they cannot be touched, that my friend, is yugen.
Noble court ladies are gracefully beautiful in
themselves, but they would be even more lovely when they suffer
under some strange power beyond their control, under some
mysterious force hidden in the universe. (Ueda Akinari, Literary and Art Theories in Japan)
What I admired and loved about this short is not how Hotaru evolves, nor her suffering when she loses Gin. The hell with that. What I loved about it is how Gin becomes more human with each day that passes; his surprise when Hotaru inquires about his name, his surprise at his own feelings; and not the least, his happiness when his wish comes true.
The reason I admire Midorikawa-sama so much is because she is very skillfull at creating a world filled with so much yugen, it overflows. A yokai that longs for human touch. A human boy that longs for the yokai world. That is like reading Noh plays over and over again.
Now wait a minute, that does not mean that I'm comparing a mere anime to Noh theatre, don't get me wrong. The reason I chose Noh theatre is because I think the yugen expressed in it is the same as the one present in Hotarubi no Mori e. As in, it has the same elements and structure. Now, I'm not some naive chick who does not know her grounds (at all); I am aware (of some) of the flaws Hotarubi no Mori e posesses, but my conclusion is that the message (or whatever you want to call it) it delivers is so strong, the 'commercial' dimension is simply thrown away. Its simplicity comes so natural, because it is natural. Still, this naturalness comes with a certain baggage. Take a forest, for example: how do you see a forest? Trees grow, they bloom, they spread seeds, they lose their leaves. But if you analyze it, there are chemical processes involved which make things so much more complicated. Summed up, the short would be: one day a yokai meets a girl and then he disappears. It's natural, like trees losing their leaves. But the 'processes' involved makes it so powerful, it actually manages to move you.(in my mind, yugen is hidden in the naturalness of the short; the whole situation is yugen, but I think that the deeper yugen is under that mask, Gin's existence in itself is yugen)
What is the whole point of this rant? No idea. I was simply enraged at how little some people understood sensed about the short, it made me want to explain why I find it so charming. Heck, I just wanted to rant and there, I found a good enough reason to. Does this rant scarcely make any point? Yes, but I still wanted to ...rant. Is it awkward to find yugen in an anime/manga? Yes it it, and it is also enraging for some. But I found it fascinating. Therefore, this post.