Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light) is a short OVA based on a one-shot manga by Yuki Midorikawa. Though the manga was published in 2002, the OVA was not made and released until 2011.
Hotarubi no Mori e is about the unique friendship between a human girl, Hotaru, and a spirit-like boy, Gin. The story is told as a flashback by 16-year-old Hotaru, while on her way to her uncle’s house for the summer.
While staying at her uncle’s house one summer, 6-year-old Hotaru gets lost one day in the forest of a mysterious temple. Gin, a boy in a fox-like mask appears to her and helps her find her way out of the forest. Hotaru returns the next day, and after spending the day together, they become fast friends. They spend their summer days together, playing in the forest, until Hotaru has to return to the city and back to school. They say their goodbyes and promise to meet again next summer. Hotaru returns to her uncle’s house, and to the forest to meet Gin the following year, and the years after, up to the present.
The story and art is simple, yet heart-warming and beautiful. If Hotarubi reminds you a little bit of Natsume Yujin-cho, that is because it’s by the same creator, Yuki Midorikawa. In fact, Hotarubi may have inspired Yuki Midorikawa to start her Natsume Yujin-cho series, released in 2005. Hotarubi gives off the same sad, but touching vibe that is so characteristic of the Natsume Yujin-cho series.
The only thing I really didn’t like about this OVA was that it was too short. The plot was too simple and could have been developed a bit more to make the story longer.
Hotarubi no Mori e
One-shot manga (2002) – Yuki Midorikawa
Personal rating: 4.5/5