Posted by psgels on 1 March 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

The essentials that you need to know for Hoturabi no Mori he: it’s from the creators of Natsume Yuujin-Chou (same director and same original writer; heck, it’s even done in the same style and the cast of Natsume Yuujinchou even makes a very small cameo here), and for a movie’s standards, it’s very short: only 40 minutes. Most OVAs nowadays have episodes of just that length. Now, Natsume Yuujin-Chou was really, really good at telling short standalone stories. This movie is too.

This movie is perfect for if you’re interested in Natsume Yuujin-Chou, yet don’t have the time to sit through 52 episodes, because it is a delightful self-contained story. Because it’s short, it can’t do as much as other movies can, but the story that it does tell is incredibly well executed. It’s heart-warming from start to finish, and never has a weak scene. The beginning is captivating, the build-up is excellent and the ending is incredibly solid.
What surprised me the most about this movie is the amount of character development. It actually takes place over multiple years, allowing the characters to gradually grow, instead of focing its entire scenario into the timespan of just a few days, like what most movies do. It’s perhaps not the most unpredictable movie, and it definitely isn’t for those who are looking for a lot of action or drama. Apart from that though, it is really an accessible movie with a wonderfully told story.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Excellent script, great build-up and ending.
Characters: 9/10 – Excellent character-development, especially for just a 40 minute movie.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Very good animation, though perhaps nothing impressive for movie standards.
Setting: 8/10 – Pretty much the same setting as Natsume Yuujinchou. Uses it well enough, but doesn’t add much to it either.

Suggestions:
Natsume Yuujin-Chou
Mushishi
Zettai Shounen

15 Responses

  1. Loz says:

    Hey Psgels you’ve misspelled Hotarubi.

    Im not trying to be pedantic, but I just wanted to point it as it could cause problems if anyone tried searching for your review.

    Peace!

  2. AidanAK47 says:

    Yep, the biggest pitfall is that it resembles Natsume too much. In fact you could place this story within The Natsume anime and nothing would feel amiss. Even the soundtrack sounded like it came from Natsume.

    It’s a decent movie.

  3. ronbb says:

    It’s a great movie. There are not that many conversations between the two characters, but each is good enough to pull at your emotional strings.

  4. Stars says:

    The ending was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen. As a huge Natsume Yuujinchou fan I absolutely loved this movie, but it really is just Nastume the Short Movie.

  5. anon says:

    I thought it was a wonderful movie. It created more emotion and feeling in 40 minutes than most full length series this season. And even though I expected that sort of ending almost a few minutes into the movie, it hit me really hard.

    @ AidanAK47: Technically, it should be the other way around since this one-shot was written before Natsume but since it was animated later, it doesn’t seems that way. I love Natsume’s tone and style so I really didn’t see it as a pitfall. In fact, I enjoyed this more than a number of Natsume “one-shot” episodes (and those are the ones I tend to like the most in the series).

  6. Will says:

    I found the ending to be clumsily forced. Did it really need to end with a badly paced “tragic” ending? I think not.

    • signorRossi says:

      I agree completely with you on the ending.
      I am a BIG Natsume Yuujinchou fan (I especially liked the last and the ongoing seasons), but this movie left me underwhelmed.

  7. kaigou says:

    Wait, wait, I totally missed any cameo. Where/when was it?

  8. PO says:

    The ending got me close to tears. But I do agree that it had some bad pacing (w/ ending rushed). Then again, it’s realistic in that sense. Sometimes, your many years of friendship and love can just go poof into thin air in what seems like a second – either through an accident or illness. It’s almost surreal when one experiences it. Thoughts like “how is it possible? How can it be true that the person so important to me can never see me again?” come up over and over.

    I don’t really mind it being close to Natsume Yuujin-chou. It’s not like they were trying to hide it, anyway.

    • Mappy says:

      “Thoughts like “how is it possible? How can it be true that the person so important to me can never see me again?” come up over and over.”

      This is true in my experience, having lost friends and family over the years where, one moment they’re alive and healthy, the next minute they’re gone. You can’t even go into mourning over their loss because it seems too surreal to take in.

      I adored this film, for managing to convey so much by doing so little in such a short timeframe. Then again, I like Natsume Yuujinchou, so I would.

    • Will says:

      Oh sure, it was surely realist, but what is important in any tragedy is not the “death” itself, but the aftermath of the event.

      -And I really want to make an example with another anime, but don’t want to spoil stuff for you- Perhaps this website could make usage of a spoiler plug-in.

  9. Devilyne says:

    I think it’s a lovely movie. I cried near the end

  10. Taara535 says:

    I think it was absolutely sublime. Brilliant film. This is probably in my top 5 films of all time. I’m still thinking about the ending – it was so brilliantly done. The voice actress of Hotaru was masterful with those last few lines, especially when you try to interpret what she feeling. To get so much meaning out of such a small amount of dialogue is incredibly impressive.

    • Jenny says:

      i have to agree. it was absolutely beautiful. nothing unnecessary was added, every shot was beautiful and the growth of the heroine was subtle and believable. i admit i cried (quite a bit) at the end, but I don’t regret watching it at all. so much emotion packed into only 40 minutes or so. i have gone through dozens of anime that had more than 20 episodes but this captured my attention and endeared me to the characters within the first 5 minutes.

      I think I am definitely checking out Nastume; if this is what Nastume is going to be like I think I will definitely enjoy it.

  11. Taara535 says:

    Also, I am so impressed how they let the ED song finish before ending the film even when all of the credits were done. It’s like they specifically gave you time to contemplate what just happened. When do you ever see that in a movie?!

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  • Bam
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 06:27 AM)
    Where’s Berserk 04 review btw?
  • Vonter
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 04:33 AM)
    Also in regards to the bat scene. I just thought of Evangelion. I suppose that’s what the director was going on. Since you’re reviewing that, I’ll leave at that.
  • Vonter
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 04:22 AM)
    I agree to a certain level the padding at the beginning. I suppose I didn’t mind since it at least was like a standard Batman episode (of the latter seasons). I think what bugs me is that the portrayal of Batman wasn’t very good, I think he’s emotionless for the most part. And like I’ve said, on the technical side it isn’t as striking as the novel. It’s like when Gyo was adapted (to be fair that’s also because like Berserk it had a lot of CGI).
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 04:20 AM)
    Basically just seeing the story put on screen I was grateful for.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 04:18 AM)
    I noticed something off about the animation and the dialogue was pretty piss poor at times but the latters kind of a given in these things and the prior was never distracting enough to take me out of the movie. I’m indifferent really to the Batgirl drama, don’t mind that its there, don’t care if it wasn’t.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 03:39 AM)
    This story required a level of care that frankly the creators didn’t want to give.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 03:38 AM)
    I think instead of trying to combat the whole women in refrigerator aspect of the story they instead should have focused on what inspired the characters to do this. What made batman rethink his relationship with the joker and attempt to find a common ground? What made the Joker suddenly want to prove a point? And sure you could add something to give batgirl a moment but not some crap villain no one cares about. Instead have her go up against a real batman villain.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 03:33 AM)
    @Vonter, Animation was one part of it. The other was the first thirty minutes being a tacked on Batgirl story and it really shows. I didn’t really have that much of a problem with it up until that scene which everyone likely knows. That annoyed me. I get what they were trying to do but it just made things worse.
    As for the actual killing Joke itself, I thought it was ok. Hamell brought his A game. Really for that it was just small details that made it lesser.
  • KaZuHiRo
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 01:46 AM)
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY PSGELS!! If you’re still lurking around that is…
  • Vonter
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 12:48 AM)
    I’m kinda bummed that the Killing Joke adaptation is likely gonna be another feminist driven criticism. As for my opinion its just not as good as it could be because it seems 2D animation in general is having less commitment adapting complex artstyles. Not as distracting as Berserk, but the Bruce Timm artstyle doesn’t strike the tone of this particular Batman story.

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