Hotarubi no Mori e (Movie)
Hotarubi no Mori e (poster)
Kanji Title 蛍火の杜へ
Romaji Title Hotarubi no Mori E
Air Date September 17, 2011
Director Takahiro Omori
Producer Shuko Yokoyama
Music by Makoto Yoshimori
Studio Brain's Base
Runtime 44 minutes
Episode Gallery

'Hotarubi no Mori e (蛍火の杜へ, Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light) is a one-shot shoujo manga written by Yuki Midorikawa. It was published in the July 2002 issue of LaLa DX in Japan, and in July 2003 it was reprinted in a tankōbon short story collection of the same name, which included four romantic one-shot stories written by MidorikawaHotarubi no Mori e tells the story of a young girl named Hotaru and her friendship with Gin, a strange young man wearing a mask, whom she meets at the age of six in a mountain forest near her grandfather's country home. Hotaru learns that her friend is supernatural and that touching Gin will cause him to disappear forever. Hotaru returns every summer to spend time with Gin, and their relationship matures as both struggle with its limitations. The inspiration to write the story came suddenly to Midorikawa, who immediately drew the manga—a process that went smoothly despite some initial conflicting elements. Hotarubi no Mori e is considered a starting point for Midorikawa's best known work, Natsume's Book of Friends.

A 44-minute anime film with the same title was produced in 2011 at the anime studio Brain's Base and directed by Takahiro Omori. The film starred Japanese voice actors Ayane Sakura and Kōki Uchiyama, and its soundtrack included music by Makoto Yoshimori. The film maintained a strong following for months in Japan after its opening on September 17, 2011. The European premiere of Hotarubi no Mori e was on October 8, 2011 at the Scotland Loves Animation festival, where it won the Jury Prize. It was screened at the Leeds International Film Festival, Anime Contents Expo and Anime Expo convention, and also won the Animation Film Award at the 66th Annual Mainichi Film Awards.

The anime was released on Blu-ray Disc (BD) and DVD in Japan on February 22, 2012. An additional story related to the original manga and anime film, titled Hotarubi no Mori e Tokubetsuhen (蛍火の杜へ 特別編?), was released in a keepsake edition of the manga 12 days prior to the release of the anime. Both the keepsake edition manga and the limited edition BD ranked No. 13 on Japan's Oricon sales chart shortly after their release. Sakura reported experiencing a strong emotional reaction to the story while recording the voice of Hotaru, and Midorikawa acknowledged that the story had a positive impact on her career. Reviewers universally praised the anime film for its beauty, simplicity, and tenderness, likening it to the works of Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli and Makoto Shinkai. There were few criticisms, most commonly focusing on its short length.


The original Hotarubi no Mori e shōjo manga and subsequent film tell the story of a six-year-old girl named Hotaru Takegawa, who gets lost in a forest inhabited by a yamagami, or mountain spirit, as well as yōkai (strange apparitions from Japanese folklore). She is found by a mask-wearing, human-like entity named Gin, who informs Hotaru that he will disappear forever if he is touched by a human. Gin then leads Hotaru out of the forest. Hotaru returns to visit Gin in the forest over the next few days and they become friends despite the limitations on their interactions. Although at summer's end she must leave Gin to return to the city and her studies, Hotaru promises to return to visit him every summer holiday. As the years go by, Gin hardly ages while Hotaru physically matures and grows closer to his apparent age. Upon reaching adolescence, Hotaru begins to struggle with their budding romance and their uncertain future together, while Gin wishes he could touch and hold the young woman that Hotaru has become. When Hotaru reaches high school, Gin takes her on a date to a festival in the forest hosted by the spirits. The night ends in tragedy when Gin mistakenly touches a young human boy who sneaked into the spirit festival, though before he disappears, he and Hotaru embrace and confess their love for one another. The story ends with Hotaru accepting her pain and moving on with her life. The 2011 anime film adaptation of the story follows all of the events from the manga, adding only a few additional scenes.

Hotarubi no Mori e Tokubetsuhen (蛍火の杜へ 特別編?), published in 2011, expands on the original story with a short episode told from Gin's perspective. When Hotaru is a teenager, she shares some pudding with Gin before she leaves at the end of the summer. After Hotaru leaves, the yōkai attempt to cheer Gin up by bringing him a couple of persimmons, one of the most prized treats on the mountain. Impressed with the taste, Gin thinks of sharing one of these persimmons with Hotaru next year. After discussing ways to preserve the persimmon with the yōkai and a spirit named Matsumino, Gin sets off to find ice on the highest mountain peak, but is disappointed to find none during the summer. When Gin returns scratched up from his fruitless search for ice, Matsumino feels sorry for him and offers to deliver the persimmon to Hotaru for him. However, not knowing where she lives, Matsumino gets lost and grows hungry. After he returns from his unsuccessful attempt to find Hotaru, Matsumino apologizes to Gin for eating the persimmon and Gin forgives him. The story concludes with Gin seeing Hotaru the following summer and wondering if he will be able to tell her about his feelings for her.



While visiting her Uncle's house during Summer, Hotaru got lost in the forest of the Mountain God. Alone and afraid, she started crying, attracting Gin who was a spirit living in the forest. Hotaru learned that Gin was a spirit that cannot be touched by a human. If so, he’ll disappear. Even though Gin was a spirit, Hotaru showed no fear towards him, which Gin takes note of.

Hotarubi-gin & hotaru under the tree

Gin and Hotaru under a tree

Ever since then, Hotaru always spent her Summer at her uncle’s place, which was near the forest where Gin lives. She would visit Gin in the forest everyday without fail. She understands that she must not touch Gin, seeing that the local yōkai were very protective of Gin and she neither did not want Gin to disappear.

Gin snow1280x720

Gin waits for Hotaru in the winter

Year after year, they both spent summer time together happily. Gin watches her grow up. Hotaru also gets dressed into her school uniform each time she moved up grades to show Gin. At one point, Hotaru realizes that she was starting to like Gin, and starting to grow to his height.


Present summer, Hotaru showed off her high school uniform to Gin. Gin then invites Hotaru to the Spirit festival inside the forest. The festival was just like the human festivals as the yōkai mimicked what the humans did. Gin suggests tying their hands together with a sash to prevent them from losing each other in the crowd. They both had fun during the Festival.

After the festival, they went for a walk near the lake. Gin gives Hotaru the mask he has always been wearing and kisses Hotaru, who was wearing the mask. He tells Hotaru about his past, that he was actually a human but was left by his parents when he was just born. It was the mountain spirits that later took the baby Gin with them after seeing that Gin was a harmless creature. The Mountain God cast a spell on Gin that would save his life, but in turn prevented him from touching humans.

Hotarubi no Mori e 13

Gin slowly disappearing

While Gin and Hotaru were walking, two children were running playfully behind them, but one of them, a boy, nearly trips. Gin, being the nearer, grabs the kid by the arm to prevent his fall, unknown to him that the boy is actually a human. When Hotaru and Gin finally realized the boy was a human that sneaked into the Spirit Festival, it was too late. Gin's body started to dissipate slowly.


When Gin begins dissipating, he asks Hotaru to give him a hug as he can finally touch someone he had wanted to for a long time. Hotaru removes her mask and runs towards Gin as both of them embrace each other in love and happiness. After a few seconds, Gin's body disappears and Hotaru was left hugging the yukata Gin was wearing as she fell to the floor. She cries into Gin's yukata, frustrated that her friend was removed from existence. Gin confesses his love to Hotaru shortly before he disappears, and Hotaru does so too. After Gin disappears, the other yōkai, guardians of Gin, appeared and thanked Hotaru for granting Gin's wish, which was to touch a human being. Hotaru keeps Gin's mask to serve as a reminder of his existence. Hotaru admits that she won't be looking forward to summer as eagerly as she did when Gin was alive, but she accepts the pain and was willing to carry on with her life, remembering her time with Gin as a wonderful childhood memory.


Voice Actor Role
Kouki Uchiyama Gin
Ayane Sakura Hotaru Takegawa
Izumi Sawada Mother Takegawa
Shinpachi Tsuji Grandfather Takegawa