The anime film, Hotarubi no Mori e, is categorized as a drama/romance, with a running time of 44 minutes. In March 2011, the anime version was to be put on display at the Anime Contents Expo in Chiba, Japan, along with new work on Natsume's Book of Friends, but the event was canceled following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.The opening date for the film was announced on June 4 on the film's official website. On June 18, special pre-order tickets were sold along with the limited offer of a free poster. Around a week later, four television commercials focused on the anime's main characters were streamed from the film's official website. Sixteen days before the official release, a 96-second trailer was posted on Cinema Today, a Japanese movie website.
The film opened in Japan on September 17, 2011, playing at Theater Umeda in Osaka and Ikebukuro's Cine Libre in Tokyo. The European premiere of Hotarubi no Mori ewas on October 8, 2011 at the Scotland Loves Animation festival in Glasgow, followed by interviews and a Q/A session with the animation director and the producer. It was screened again at the Scotland Loves Animation festival in Edinburgh on October 14, along with two other short films produced by Brain's Base studio. It was also a late addition to the 2011 Leeds International Film Festival and shown as a free presentation on November 18 in Leeds Town Hall Hotarubi no Mori e was one of 60 titles screened at the first Anime Contents Expo held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba in late March 2012. It was also shown on June 30, 2012 at the Anime Expo convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Limited edition copies of the Blu-ray Disc and DVD were released in Japan on February 22, 2012. The limited edition sets included card set illustrations, stickers, a 40-page booklet, a strap with an attached mask (like Gin's), and other limited time specials. The DVD was also released at the same time without these extras.