Review: Hotarubi No Mori E

Alternate Title/s: 蛍火の杜へ
The Light of a Firefly Forest
Genre: Drama, Supernatural, Romance
Manga: 1 volume
Author: Midorikawa Yuki
Animated Film: approx. 44 minutes
Director: Omori Takahiro

(Original from AnimeNewsNetwork)
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.

Story: The story of Hotarubi no Morie E is simple yet completely touching. It is short yet it does not fail to convey the development of the characters, their emotions, and the struggle of being unable to touch the person who is dear to them.

But since it is short, the story does lack some background. It leaves you with some questions, such as: Why do the creatures of the forest care so much about Gin? What happened to Hotaru after the end?

However, I do applaud the story for being so touching and sad. Even though, I didn't cry as much as I had with other manga or movies like this one, it is a wonder that I got so teary-eyed when it was only 44 minutes long. It only focuses on their relationship and that's just what the story is all about. No twists and turns, no mysteries. Just plain feelings - pure and strong feelings that will break your heart.

Characters: Gin and Hotaru are more or less the only characters in the story. The others are just mentioned in passing. But they were more than enough.

I love Hotaru's character. As a child, she was strong-willed and brave. I love how her curious nature always gets her in trouble with Gin. She's adventurous and it's so cute that Gin got to see her growing up. I like how she's just like a normal person. Unlike in other manga where female leads are either rich spoiled brats, scarier and stronger than guys, the beauty that's envied by all girls, the arrogant and smart girl, the childish and energetic girl, or the clumsy and idiotic girl.

As for Gin, I love him, too. He's the silent guy who's kind and helpful. He doesn't get attached too easily but considering his situation, that's understandable. Who would want to be so closely attached with so many people when you know you could disappear at any time with a single mistake? But other than that, he's so cute, too! And I love how he handles Hotaru and her silly antics.

Drawing/Animation: The manga's original art was followed in the animated film. However, personally, I prefer the animated version. Aside from sound effects, movements, and voices, there's also the advantage of color and details. I personally like Gin's appearance in the animated version better. It's like he wasn't as handsome in the manga.

I'm not saying that the original manga's drawing is not good. It is good, and there are clear details. I just don't think it's as clean, and as good as what I would have wanted it to be. And the animation gives me just what I am looking for.

Voice Acting: I can't say much about the voice acting, especially Gin's. Since he generally doesn't say much and he's always so composed, I guess Uchiyama Kouki's voicing was well done. As for Sakura Ayane's work on Hotaru, I can say it was good. Not exemplary, but good enough and well-suited.

And so, I didn't pay much attention to the soundtrack and theme music so I can't say anything about those. I might download them someday, but not now. In the end, as I always say, this is my personal review so you may or may not like it as I did. But if you want a heart-warming story that's a short read, or a short film of a beautiful love, then I'd recommend Hotarubi no Mori E to you.

Here is the trailer of the movie so you can peek and know what to expect:

Blog Archive