One day, a wee little girl was having lots of fun during her vacation in her uncle’s place and amidst all of her “having fun”, she got lost in the forest. However, a spirit (or to be called Yokai) helped her and guided her out of the forest. After that incident, they ended-up growing closer and developed a bond and they decided to visit each other every summer when the girl, Takegawa Hotaru will be going on a vacation there again.
One of the simplest anime movies out there that you can go and watch. The movie is also pretty short, it is only running for 48 minutes compared to other movies like Kimi no Nawa and I Want to Eat Your Pancreas with the same running time (1 hr 47 mins) Speaking of short movies, despite this being a 48 minutes movie, it’s still quite an impressive one and Brain’s Base definitely checked the box for a quite enjoyable short movie. All the most basic aspects of a movie are done quite nicely. There is however, a flaw regarding the plot that will be discussed down the line but first let’s start with the animation and visual presentation.
Visual presentation is good. Of course, it’s not as insane as UFOTABLE, KyoAni or CloverWorks but it gets the job done in a good manner – props to the scenery artists, it’s really stunning. A flaw worth mentioning is that, at the very first scene, Hotaru’s movements were a little off and didn’t seem natural but that’s about it for graphic flaws. For the rest of the runtime, visual is definitely not a problem so a blind eye can be turned for this one – it’s not the end of the world.
Another aspect worth reviewing is the music. Since this is a short, fantasy romantic drama, music plays an important part here to bring everything together and provide audible cues as to when a scene should be sad and so on. Well, I must say that the audio is more dominant than the visual aspect of the anime and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It brings the whole fictive world to live and is thus very immersive for viewers. Crisp sounds make for another extra point regarding audio.
A fun fact is that Ayaneru (Sakura Ayane) voiced Hotaru when she was still 17 and in highschool – pure talent right there.
Now, onto probably the most memorable part for a group of viewers, myself included – the plot and pacing. The plot, as mentioned previously is really simple and straightforward and the pacing is very quick. The main issue here is that the plot lacks build up, especially in a short movie here.
The ending was not well executed and really rushed therefore it lacks that emotional factor especially for the veteran anime watchers out there. A different story might be told by new anime watchers since they haven’t had much experience with watching anime therefore this might be an okay ending.
Regarding this, I wish they extended the duration for just enough to include a proper buildup arc for the ending to be more impactful emotionally.
Overall though, this movie shouldn’t be a waste of time for the simple, short fantasy romance. Despite the plot flaws, let’s still take a moment to appreciate the well-executed graphics and sensational audio – they might as well salvage the apparent flaw in the plot.
Score – 7/10
Title: Hotarubi no Mori e
Studio: Brain’s Base
Director: Oomori Takahiro
Voice Actors: Uchiyama Kouki, Sakura Ayane