Everyone, whether they’d like to admit it or not, is a sucker for a good romance like Hotarubi no Mori e. And when I say good romance, I don’t mean some mushy and overly dramatic plot. I mean a pure and honest love story. One with a narrative that gets even the most cold-hearted of people to say, “Ah, goddamnit. Just let them have it.” If you’re having one of those sentimental afternoons, or are just in the mood for something light and quick, then give Hotarubi no Mori e 45 minutes of your undivided attention.
Hotarubi no Mori e follows a six-year-old Hotaru Takegawa as she loses her way in a forest inhabited by spirits. Legend has it that any human who gets lost in the forest will be eaten by the creatures that live in it. Yet, Hotaru is rescued by a human-looking spirit named Gin. Over the years, Hotaru returns every summer to her uncle’s house to visit the mask-wearing spirit. Although they grow closer, even more so when the age gap narrows, their friendship is threatened by Gin’s inability to survive physical human contact.
Why You Should Watch It
A true coming of age story, Hotarubi no Mori e exposes us to Hotaru’s end of innocence. As an adolescent, she becomes aware of how the peculiarities of their relationship can threaten its longevity. For this reason, she tells Gin, “Time might separate us some day. But, even still, until then, let’s stay together.” This is precisely the beauty of this 45-minute movie, based on Yuki Midorikawa’s manga of the same name. It’s a celebration of life’s happy coincidences, even if we’re doomed to lose it all in the end.
After watching, I kept thinking of one section from Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being:
“Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short.”