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Longing and Waiting: Hotarubi no Mori e Review

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It has been a while since my last post on this blog, but I am back. And besides, I can’t let Leaveit2Me do all the work. Then again, his name does indicate how reliable he is.

Anyways, I am going to review an anime movie that I recently watched while I was away, Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light). The 44 minute film is an adaptation of a shoujo one-shot series of the same name created by Yuki Midorikawa.

The film is told in the perspective of Hotaru Takegawa. At the tender age of six, Hotaru gets lost in the forest that is inhabited by the mountain spirit (yamagami), and other ghostly apparitions and spirits (yokai). Alone and scared in the woods, Hotaru is discovered by Gin, a human-like being wearing a mask. Gin informs Hotaru that he will help her get out of the forest, but she must never touch him because if he gets touched by a human, he will disappear forever. Gin leads Hotaru out of the forest, and she promises him that she will come back to the mountain to play with him again. During that summer, Hotaru and Gin become close friends despite the limitations.

Hotarubi no Mori e 2
© Brain’s Base

Soon after, summer ends. Hotaru explains to Gin that she has to go back home since the school year is about to start, but she promises to visit him every summer. As time goes by, Hotaru grows more mature and becomes a lovely young girl that is near Gin’s age. Hotaru and Gin mutually love each other, but are worried about their future together. When Hotaru begins high school, Gin takes her on a date at a festival held by spirits. Gin accidentally touches a human boy, and he starts to disappear. For the first and last time, Hotaru and Gin embrace and confess their love for each other as Gin’s body dissipates into fireflies.


The plot is simple, but compelling. It is a tragic romance between “an entity” and a human girl. Even though they cannot hold hands, it doesn’t stop them from forming a deep connection. They share some sweet moments together that can make any viewer go, “Aww!”

© Brain’s Base


Although this film is only 44 minutes long, the characters are well-developed to the extent that viewers are able to express compassion towards them. The longing for each other and the circumstances that their relationship is built upon makes you feel sympathetic and hope for a future for them.

Music & Art:

The music and art are beautiful. One of my favorite scenes is when Gin disappears into fireflies. There is something mesmerizing about it, all the lights going up and guiding him to the stars and heavens. You feel sad, but at the same time you feel happy that he finally gets peace.

Hotarubi no Mori e part 10
© Brain’s Base

Unique Factors:

  • This story is a tragedy from the start. When Gin was a baby, his parents abandoned him in the forest of spirits. His parents were unable to care for him; thus, they offered him to the spirits. One could assume that the baby will die since he cannot survive in the forest on his own. However, the spirits took him in as their own and raise him. This brings into question, whether the spirits raising him is a blessing in disguise or an unfortunate circumstance. Gin is able to live, but he cannot interact with humans through touch for the rest of his life. In my opinion, Gin’s situation is a double-edged sword.
  • Love transcends from physical intimacy to words and communication. Even though they don’t embrace each other until the very end, we can see how much they care for each other as they hangout every day.
  • The red string is a form of binding someone to another. The red string is one of my favorite metaphors in any East Asian drama or anime. Even though they cannot hold hands, they tie around a white cloth to their wrists or hold the opposite sides of an object. It may seem like a wall or barrier between them, but it is actually connecting them as if it is a red string of fate. They are bonded together forever, which seems pretty romantic to think about.
Hotarubi no Mori e part 5
© Brain’s Base


You should consider watching it. It is a dramatic romance. You will definitely feel some sort of sadness in the end. If you don’t, you must have a cold heart, just kidding. 🙂

© Brain’s Base

Final Review: 8.5/10

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