Hotarubi no Mori e: Transcending The Intangible Realm

It goes without saying that Hotarubi no Mori e is a phenomenal film (In my opinion anyway. I highly recommend it.) that emphasizes the intangible aspect of friendship through both physical distance as well as emotional distance. That being said, the film really does seem to get to the grindstone so speak and the deeper nature of friendships that also contain some very peculiar elements germane not only to humanity, but all life itself.

One of the major themes of Hotarubi no Mori e has to do with tangible versus the intangible – being able to communicate by touch which is something that Gin, a spirit can not do with a human like Hotaru if they wish to perverse this conditional friendship. As with humans – as any living creature the ability to touch – touch one another allows one to communicate with another better than any other sense present. Words only allow us to say so much in so many various ways, however, to touch endows one with near spiritual qualities. To console the grieving, to share happiness, and to live life all respond to the act of touch. Looking at Hotaru from her younger and impulsive years, her relationship with Gin from not being able to touch him to yearning to do so, expresses this point itself. As another example, as Hotaru goes from holding onto a stick with Gin to find her way as little girl, she eventually uses a cloth as a budding woman, symbolizing this desire to communicate on a deeper level and one that articulates a new nature to their relationship. In a way, they are like a real dating couple as Hotaru eludes to. Gin’s responses even seem to show it.

Looking deeper into series, I also found that memories play a role as well into the story’s overall theme and not just a literary technique to move the story along. Hotaru’s recollections with her relationship and time with Gin acts as a gateway to the past – the person in question can reflect on it, but necessarily can not change it nor interact with it in a physical matter that would be significant (to a degree). It is much akin to leaving a comment on a youtube video, telling the person to do something, but since the video has been recorded, they can not change that attempt or heeds the person advice unlike a live stream. In the case of Hotaru, this prerecorded video is just as it is – already recorded and her declaration near the films end pronounces a staunch resolve to go forward – the only way that she can. Memories are gateways to the past, but also for us to remember specific events in times when they might be needed the most, yet also can never be forgotten or never out of reach. We must not harp on that which is inevitable.

My last observation from the film and how it relates to everything single thing has to do with the immensity of life – the uncertainty linked to it that only time can imbued. The longer we live, the more attached we become to those we share a intimate bond with. Whether it be friends, family, lovers, pets, or others – the relationships we have are not physical eternal. We all must age, we all must part at times, and we all must die at the appointed time God (or otherwise) have marked for us.Hotaru recognizes this fact as she begins to age and catch up to a otherwise static Gin, whom (avoiding spoilers) begs this question to mind. The objective use of time and its relation to distance only seems to bring a reflective, spiritual – rather ethereal experience into the film to make a statement – to pose a question: How do we deal with the immensity, the grandeur life lays before us when we are close to the one’s we love, yet so far away? Again, the ending of the film seems to sum it up very nicely.

To conclude (or risk rambling on), Hotarubi no Mori e in its purest form captures some of the most imitate and basic (yet complex) concerns everyday people fear from everyday life. We all have some apprehensions about dying before our loved ones (or vice versa), we all have fears about dying period, and we all hate to be seperated from the ones we love. However, with all of these matters, the only thing we can do is move forward and treasure the time we have on this on this material world. No matter how brief or long it maybe…

Personal Notes

  • This whole post is dedicated to the anime flim, Hotarubi no Mori e. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. It is only 45 minutes long, but such a beautiful movie. A review coming soon.
  • Excuse the brief lapse in between the second to the last pargraph. I watched the film twice (once Thursday near 2am and again Friday afternoon), and I wrote all this until 2am that night (since it was on my mind), so I might have lost my train of thought by finishing it the next day.

6 thoughts on “Hotarubi no Mori e: Transcending The Intangible Realm

    Ah, great post. I personally really liked (from a storytelling perspective) how Gin’s disappearance came about. It is much the same way in real life–any one of us can die at any time, as there’s no way to know what will happen to us from one minute to the next. Chances are pretty good we’ll live to see tomorrow (it’s safe to say we’ve all lived on, every day of our lives!), but really–at any time I might (allegorically speaking) randomly grab some kid’s arm to keep him from falling. For this reason, I feel Gin’s lapse into nonexistence was fitting in that it was caused by an act so thoroughly trivial, sudden, and unplanned. Gin’s reaction was perhaps the best moment of the movie, in my opinion. Rather than freak out about it or bemoan his fate, he smiled, happy to finally have a moment to embrace Hotaru. Very touching; very sweet.
    I liked your comments on the sense of touch, which I feel is arguably the sense that is most reliable in terms of confirming what is real. There is the saying “seeing is believing,” but it is sometimes a false notion. There are such things as mirages and hallucinations for example, and instances where (in a confused stupor) we remark “I must be seeing things.” Our eyes often deceive us, and likewise I feel we can often hear, smell, and taste things “incorrectly” as well. But with the sense of touch, the world seems to become more real once you’re handling it, making contact with it, and interacting with it.
    The barrier between Gin and Hotaru reminded me much of the film 5 Centimeters Per Second, where the effects of distance are analyzed in regards to human relationships, ever so fragile and fleeting. It makes you wonder–will Hotaru always remember Gin, and keep him in her heart? How exactly will she move forward with her life? I imagine she may live much like the man in one episode/chapter of Natsume Yuujinchou, who was able to see yokai until one day (without warning) he lost the ability. The masked yokai woman who loved him could no longer interact with him (essentially no different in effect from Gin’s literal disappearance), and in time, the man moved on and eventually fell in love and married someone else. It was one of the more poignant stories of the series, and interestingly the yokai was named Hotaru (meaning firefly, apparently–which was a significant symbol and plot element of that story).

  2. I had been waiting for this since the second I saw it on an anime chart months ago. It is enjoyable to watch slow anime for a change and take in a peaceful story. It is a shame it was so short but then again I guess it didn’t outstay its welcome.

    I’ve watched it twice as well.

  3. I don’t really watch a lot of anime movies but most of the ones I heard are pretty good, I will have to check this out sometime soon.

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