TGIF! Here we are again with another Fangirl Friday, where I write about my absolute favorite anime, manga, dramas, webcomics, books….whatever! This week I’m taking it back a little to one of the first manga to make me actually cry, Hotarubi no Mori e (lit. Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light).
Hotarubi no Mori e is a 2002 manga oneshot (also apart of a 2003 tankobon of the same name) written by Yuki Midorikawa, the author behind Natsume’s Book of Friends. The story follows a young girl, Hotaru, and her friendship with a mysterious masked man, Gin, who lives in the woods outside of her grandfather’s home. She meets Gin at the age of six and quickly learns that Gin is not a normal man, but a supernatural being. He warns her that she must never touch him or else he will disappear forever. She promises not to touch him and they strike up a summer friendship that spans years. But, as the years pass and Hotaru matures, her feelings grow into love, and both struggle with the limitations of not being able to touch.
Bittersweet…if I had to sum this manga up in one word, it would have to be bittersweet… It’s been years since I last read this and even now I’m tearing up as I write this. This story struck a cord with me, and I will admit that I cried like a baby at the ending. It left an empty feeling in my gut, yet I couldn’t help but feel like the outcome was unavoidable. Summer is a time for fleeting childhood memories…fireworks…barbecues…beach trips…and tears! This manga definitely sums up what it’s like to transition from childhood to adulthood and with it the loss of something precious yet intangible.
The progression was slow like a series of endless summer days one event blending into the next. The characters were likable, and despite the brevity of the story, I found myself getting invested in their pasts and hoping that everything would turn out all right for them in the future. The romance was done well, and didn’t feel unnatural or rushed in any way. I will say you can see the conclusion coming a mile away, its rather obvious in hindsight, yet despite that it still had the same emotional impact! This manga really hit me in the feels, hard! In 2011, the story was adapted into a 44 minute animated short film, which I saw…the director did a great job of translating such a beautiful yet heartbreaking story to film, so I highly suggest giving it a watch if you have the time! I highly suggest reading this amazing story, but remember to grab a few tissues before hand.