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. Pretty heavy story for a film with only a 45 minute running time. Still, the circumstances of them not being able to touch could have very easily been played into some overwrought drama, but the story avoids that and it is often played for laughs. Hotaru is funny and adorable at the beginning and she later grows up into someone level-headed without becoming boring. While she is the narrator, we see her growing over the years the same as Gin.
I felt that the film effectively opened him up to the audience at a good pace. In the end you’ll find yourself hoping for a happy ending because the characters are so likable and pure-hearted, unique in the world of loud protagonists driven by righteous passions. Forbidden romance is usually marked as tragic and fated for a bad end due to conflict stemming from outside the relationship’s power. In this case, the story was about so much more than a simple romantic relationship. That’s the kind of simple but subtle storytelling I would like to see more often in animes. There are no set expectations or desires and it allows the story to unfold unfiltered.
The few flaws are difficult to ignore. The ending was a bit tricky but it was still within your expectation if you know how a human and youkai’s relationship works in Natsume Yuujinchou but even so, the ending was a bit sudden because, as you watched it, you had been tricked by the positive flow of the events and that a key plot development at the end is brought about by arbitrary means. Fans of Natsume, however, have likely already made their plans to view the film based solely on its similarities to their beloved show, and the end result is the film should fall within expectations. Maybe not the best but still solid animation, fairytale characters and a nice story make this anime more than worth watching.
In The Forest Of The Fireflies Light is a perfect exemplar why I like Japanese animation so much. Forest and it’s spiritual surrounding represent an important part of Japanese culture, whereas this symbol can be found in many anime originated from Japan, but also in other Asian productions and traditions. An interesting and touching story is told without fireworks and big splashes. Some might think that 40 minutes isn’t all that long, but in this case, it was more than enough to tell a tale. Remember that the story of Hotarubi was written nearly a decade ago, and taking that into account makes the film even more remarkable.