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Japanese Movie Review : Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)

Japanese Movie Review : Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)


This movie tells the story of a girl named Hotaru Takegawa. Just like every summer, Hotaru spend her time at her grandfather’s country home. Near her grandfather’s house, there was a forest that she liked to go to whenever she visited. 

One day, the six years-old Hotaru was walking around the forest, mesmerized by the scenery before her. And before she know it, she was lost and desperately trying to find her way out of the forest. After hours of walking around and trying to find a way out to no avail, she met Gin. 

Gin was one of the mountain spirits who was living in the forest. The forest was said to be the home to the mountain spirits or yamagami as they call it in Japanese, as well as yoka. Mountain spirits could not be touched by humans, if they were to be touched, they will disappear into thin air. And with that knowledge in mind, Gin and Hotaru started to become friends. The two find themselves enjoying each other’s company and agreed to see each other again every summer despite the risk Hotaru brings into his life. 

A Sneak Peek Into The Story : 


The main character is a young girl named Hotaru Takegawa, who recounts her first meeting with Gin, a mountain spirit that guided her to safety when she was lost in the forest. Hotaru is a very curious and lively child. And when summer arrives, she will always go to the village to visit her grandfather. Hotaru always go around the village and explore new places when she was there. That is how one day, she found herself lost in the forest. Being all alone and worrying about the repercussions for wandering by herself into the forest, Hotaru start to panic as she continuously try to find her way out of the forest.

Short Movie Review : Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)


That is where she meet Gin. Gin is a mountain spirit, and a mountain spirit should never touch a human and vice versa because if they do, they will disappear into thin air. Gin is a very calm and level headed character, which mix well with Hotaru’s loud and overly excited personality. Hotaru and Gin eventually become very good friends and since that day on, Hotaru would spend almost everyday of the summer going to the forest to spend time with Gin.

They would talk about the forest and the creatures that live in there, Hotaru even get to meet other spirit creatures in the forest – which scared the hell out of her. They play hide and seek in the forest, fly a kite together, go fishing, all summer long they spend it by having fun together. And as time goes by, they start to become closer and closer. With that, she promise Gin that she will visit every summer and ask Gin to wait for her.


Short Movie Review : Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)
Japanese Movie Review : Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)


As time goes on and their friendship progress, she start to realize things about Gin that she didn’t realize before. Such as the fact that Gin stays the same while Hotaru grows older and older with every passing summer. Despite how much Hotaru look forward to summer, she also dread it because whenever they meet, she will be a year older. And eventually, if this continues, she dread the time when she is unable to go and visit Gin in the forest anymore. Which each and every passing summer, and as they spend more time together, Hotaru realizes that her feelings for Gin has developed into something more than friends. She realizes that she might just inevitably be in love with Gin.


Short Movie Review : Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)

Review : 

I think, the core idea of this movie is the exploration of the relationship between a mortal human and a timeless spirit. How Gin and Hotaru’s relationship is limited by the inability to touch, yet they are able to make it work. 
One of the most attractive features of this movie lies in it’s simplicity. By keeping things subdued, it lets the story evolve and unfold without set expectations or desires. In my opinion, that is also one of the reasons why it connects so well with the viewers. The relationship between Gin and Hotaru is both endearing and refreshing as things are just so simple and pure between them. And even with such short time, you can see that there are some development in their relationship, going from friendship to romance.

Their interactions are underlined with a bittersweet melancholy and I somehow feel like there is always so much left unsaid between these two, from their smile to their laugh and the way they look at each other. It is a shame that this movie is only 45 minutes long, that I feel like they didn’t get the chance to fully explore the storyline and let the characters evolve. Because what they have going on in this movie is definitely something that they can delve deeper into and make it a 90 minutes movie.

“Hotarubi no Mori e” is definitely a straightforward and effortless movie. They don’t add things to try and over complicate the movie. The wonderful animation and music definitely helps set the mood but for me it’s beauty lies in it’s ability to tell the story as it is.

For such a short film, Hotarubi no Mori e definitely give a powerful effect on it’s viewers. I actually have heard this movie being recommended by my friends a lot, and this movie, being only 45 minutes long is such a simple and straightforward movie. I think those qualities are what attracts viewers to come to love the characters. Personally, I had hoped that they would have made it longer and explore it more because the ending was a little bit too anticlimactic for me. But altogether, the storyline was great and I have glad to have watched this movie.

Short Movie Review : Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)



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