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1) Overhearing a Flower Song (Spring story) "During these past few days I've been on [cleaning] duty, there's been the sound of a guitar coming from that old school building that we've been barred entry..."
2) Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light (Hotaru no Mori E) (Summer story) "I met him when I was six years old. On a scorching hot Summer day, in a forest that legend says is home to many spirits and monsters..."
3) The Fallling of Autumn Leaves (Autumn story) "To me, back then, it was in order to stay by my beloved Kaede... that I came up with the most brilliant plan."
4) Deepening the Scar (Winter story) About a sister and brother who reunite because their family decides to get together again after 8 years. But things will never be the same as they were in their innocent days...
В лес, где мерцают светлячки 萤火之森 蛍火の杜へ Forest of the Fireflies Hibi, Fukaku Hotaru no Mori Hotarubi no Mori he Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light Khu rừng đom đóm Kurukuru Ochi Ha
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Maybe it's above average, but it's not AMAZING.
I've read all four of the one-shots, and I have mixed reactions for all of them. I'll just share my detailed reviews for the first two stories though, and just have some short reactions to the latter two. Why? Because: 1. Reviewing the first story will give you a primer on the mangaka's style of storytelling 2. I believe the second story is overrated, and I want to express why I think so 3. The the last two stories are pretty irrelevant now, and it's a pain in the ass to write more full length reviews.
1. Overhearing a Flower Song
Basically your typical shoujo fare about a normal girl who meets a delinquent guy. What I appreciate is that blushing isn't so obvious all the time, because when it is noticeably dark, I can tell that that character must be really embarrassed. Having rare blush moments makes those moments more meaningful, and creates a nice slice-of-life atmosphere at the same time.
The story better than your usual shoujo angst, but it still suffers the same flaws. Overly plain heroine with little characterization, the backgrounds are meh, and so on. Speaking of art, its plainness actually makes a great slice-of-life feeling too. The characters' faces are plain, without too much eyelashes or sparkles. The hair isn't big and the foreheads aren't big either. Nice way of showing that it's just a simple story about a normal guy and a normal girl.
On the downside though, I feel that because of the said plainness, the impact of the story is lessened by a lot. Because there are only so few facial expressions, it's hard to really grasp the character's feelings without the help of their words or their blushing. The art part of storytelling is crucially important if the words aren't as great, and the story suffers because translations of manga on the internet usually aren't that great compared to official translations.
Oh well, decent read for a shoujo anyway so 7 for this.
2. Into the Forest of the Fireflies' Light
Honestly everyone makes a buzz about this because it's so tragic and it just so happened to have a movie adaptation. It still suffers the some of the flaws of the last story, especially the few and unvaried facial expressions (although the characters still seem to have a bit more personality here at least). I will say that the backgrounds are a lot better here though, and that should be expected of the fantasy genre.
One annoying thing for me is how the girl who's supposed to be six years old (nine years old later) sometimes acts like a teenaged girl. Although it might be just the translation's fault (and I hope it is too, for the sake of people who hype this story way too much). It's not that big of a deal though, since most of the story's development happens when the girl is already a teenager.
Actually that's also another flaw. The story rushes too much to reach the climax, when the girl's already a high school student. It hinders the impact of the characters' feelings and the story itself. Personally it also gives me this bad vibe that the mangaka wanted to focus on the romance way too much to the point of disregarding the development that should come before it. There's a chance it isn't the mangaka's fault though; it's possible that she had a page limit and couldn't stretch it out as much as she wanted to.
Lastly, I feel like the ending was badly executed. Again, it there's a chance it's just the translation's fault.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The whole monster festival part builds up how it would be the last time Hotaru can see Gin, particularly pages 37-40 (I'm basing it on mangafox so the numbers might be different on other sites). Gin says that he can't wait for summer anymore, and wants to see Hotaru right away. And then right after, Hotaru says that that summer will be the last time she can see him again. What. Why did she just assume that. How would she even reach that conclusion if all Gin said was that he wanted to see her right away without waiting? Maybe what Gin meant was that he literally couldn't wait to see her, as if he was declaring that it was the last time and he was going to disappear after. Or maybe Hotaru just had a feeling or a hunch that it was the last time she could see him again, but not something she knew for sure. But before you can even think about any of that, Gin ends up grabbing a kid by accident. And now I'm even more confused than before. Was Gin already going to disappear, but ended up hastening it by accidentally touching the kid? Or was Gin still going to continue to live forever until he touched the kid by accident? Was it even an accident when he grabbed the kid? All these questions come up because of the combination of ambiguous text and ambiguous facial expressions which portrayed ambiguous emotions. Agh and the way the shoehorned the part with the demons thanking her because all Gin wanted was to touch a person, and thanks to her he finally did. Wouldn't it have been more meaningful if the first thing he touched wasn't some stupid kid, but her? Wouldn't it have been better if the reason he died was doing something he loved, like embracing her for the first and last time? What a mess.
Maybe I'm just nitpicking on the details too much, but as a fan of visual stories like movies, manga, and video games, I feel that ignoring too much details creates an obstruction to a fully engaging experience. I really hope the movie fixes most of these flaws though. Maybe that's why everyone hypes it so much. Maybe they saw the movie first and read this afterwards which made them biased. Maybe they didn't even read it at all and just rated it based on the movie. I don't know, but really, it's just an average fantasy-romance-tragedy tale, which loses out to other stories of the same genres.
Well, at least it was a bit unique. 8/10.
3. Falling Autumn Leaves
Story is pretty okay for shoujo. Some of the characters' facial expressions are too lifeless though. This is a recurring problem now for this manga. Also, that leaf background in page seven... does not fit in with manga in general. Looks like a photoshop effect. Lastly, the girl keeps mentioning "hot pot (without meat)". I think the parenthesis was okay the first time, but for every other time it's still there, it gets a bit annoying. Not sure if that was part of the manga or if the translators just put it in to avoid confusion.
This chapter is pretty average, but it's better than a lot of shoujos still. 7.5/10
4. Deepening the Scar
The stigma against incest is probably preventing a lot of people from enjoying this chapter as much as they could. I was one of them, but when I reread it and tried to think more openly, this is actually pretty great. Probably my favorite out of all the stories. It actually tackled the issue in a realistic manner (aside from the part about the parents getting back together, but hey it could happen). The whole development in general was fluid in a way, better than the second story in my opinion.
I think the translation for this chapter was pretty good actually. There were some lines that really hit the feels. Kudos to the scanlating team! 9/10
Yeah I know I've been complaining a lot about the art and the ambiguous facial expressions, but they're not terrible. Lots of other mangakas have the same problem anyway, and this manga is pretty old too, so maybe it's just a bit outdated. And I don't really hate this manga, but I just don't think it's as "beautiful" and "amazing" as most people think it is.
Overall Rating: 8/10
**I'm not bashing the translators at all. I appreciate their work very much, and if it weren't for them, I wouldn't be able to read this manga. It's selfless people like them who share their works that make the internet really great.
... Last updated on June 4th, 2014, 9:59am
It was beautiful.
Midorikawa sensei really is like a Miyazaki. The second one shot: Hotaru no Mori E, was purely beautiful. The ending wasn't surprising. But the point of the story isn't to create a surprising plot twist, if that's what your looking for than this story, none of her stories are for you. Midorikawa's stories inspire a fascination for the japanese folklore. She creates compassionate characters and fills the plot line with heartwarming moments that are worth treasuring forever. Into the forest of fireflies is about a boy, Gin, who was turned into a yokai and a little girl whom he helps one day in the summer. As a yokai, he doesn't age or die, but because he was once human, if a human were to touch him, he would disappear. The little girl grows and as her physical ages gets closer to Gin's, she falls in love with him. From here on, its obvious how it will end in a tragedy, but it's the execution of the story from here on that makes it so pure and special. Both characters struggle with their feelings, as Hotaru gets closer to his age, Gin falls in love with her and Hotaru falls in love with Gin. But neither can touch the other. Their longing to be with each other and then realizing that they can never be together- this is executed beautifully...
If you liked Hotaru no Mori E, then I highly recommend you read or watch Natsume Yuujinchou, if you haven't already!!
... Last updated on January 5th, 2013, 3:42pm
2nd story: Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light (Hotaru no Mori E)
Though the other 3 stories are good too but the 2nd one is the best. If I were to rank the 4 stories, it'd be Story 2, 4, 3, then 1.
But definitely check out story 2. You won't regret it.
... Last updated on December 2nd, 2012, 8:58pm
is a magician
Even without the magical nor mystic element, she draws stories like performing magic. It captures your heart while you read, almost bewitching.
Why? if you look back, she brought no new theme, just your usual romance, usual shoujo. And yet you find yourself falling in love with the stories anyway. Especially for me, because I usually avoid "usual shoujo romance" (it is true, I usually give up series when I see the word romance among its genres...) I my self was surprised when I read the fourth story and I actually thought it was endearing. I usually disgusted by incestious story.
... Last updated on November 22nd, 2012, 9:38pm
It wasn't overly unique, but it wasn't bad either.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
When you read a story, especially a oneshot, that in the beginning says "I can't touch humans", it's not hard to predict that it'll end tragically.
But it wasn't poorly told; they are nicely done. For story two, which was the best, I'll give it a 7.
What I have to say
Wanna how good the second story is? ... ... ARE YOU BLIND??!! THEY PERSONALLY MADE A MOVIE JUUUUUST FOR THE SECOND STORY!!!! .... ... That's! How good it is... How sweet love can be... For years, you could only see the one you love grow in front of your very eyes. Then, you realise, I can't just stand here and wait for her... I want to be by her side.. But you can never touch her and neither can she touch you...
The separation between Hotaru and Gin during the other three seasons all those years, just brought them closer and closer to each other. This undeniably touching story deserves all the credit it can get for originality, character personality and sensibility. 'Hotarubi no Mori E' is the epitome of a bittersweet love story and the extension the movie had, just made all the fans bawl even more than they already did when reading the manga.
The other three stories are like sprinkles on ice cream. So read them if you wish but just don't miss the second story. Everyone deserves to know the tale of those two and how their love for each other blossomed each summer...
People are very fragile beings. Whatever form of life they take, feelings won't go away that easily. They stay and keep nourishing our souls. Hope for fulfillment is always there. Deep insside. Love can easily be born, but it takes time for it, as it takes for a little bud to bloom. It's presence keeps lingering on even after the material bodies are not there aymore.
Most beautiful and most touching piece of work...Hotarubi no Mori e...
... Last updated on June 24th, 2012, 2:12am
Hotaru no Mori E will forever be my favourite.
I really love the second story, Hotaru no Mori E. It was very endearing and had such a beautiful, yet sad ending. The movie actually enhanced the story with the extra bits of how those two continued to play and grow up together. The development between those two is truly amazing. The ending made me feel extremely conflicted; I felt happy the Gin got what he has always wished for, but it's just too sad! And seeing it in animation made it so beautifully heart-wrenching, I ended up crying till snot came out of my nose. I also loved how that mask makes Gin give off that ambiguous and melancholy feeling.
As for the other stories, I wasn't very fond of story 3 at all. I think the ninja part turned me off. Story 1 was okay; it wasn't bad, but it wasn't that good either. I wanted to get to know a bit more about the characters and their history, but that's just me. Story 4 made me cry, it was definitely more realistic than the other stories with a similar plot and that gave it more impact.
I'm way too susceptible so these stories left behind a bawling mess. They are quite beautiful but tragedy and just about any unhappy ending are not my cup of tea. I highly recommend this to all drama lovers out there.
This work is okay. I think, the storylines are well thought out and not predictable. The progress of each story was more or less even surpising. But I didn't like Story 3 and also Story 1 wasn't very good. They didn't touch me at all. But I liked Hotaru no Mori E very much and Deepening the scar was also nice. Personally, I'm not a big fan of depressing stories, that's why this work isn't my favourite, but it's unique. Despite the fact that I enjoy other kinds of stories more, I think that Midorikawa has a very, very huge talent in telling stories. I think I could've enjoy them much more if it had been drawn better (I don't like the scetchy-style). But all in all I liked the manga and would recommend it.