Anime Reporter draws inspiration from Keiichi Hara’s highly received film adaptation of the comic book, Sarusuberi. This film has already won many awards, including Best Animated Feature Film at the 70th Mainichi Film Awards and Excellence Prize (Animation Category) at the 39th Japan Academy Prizes. Miss Hokusai is making its way to the UK and Ireland on DVD, Blu-ray and Collector’s Edition, courtesy of AllTheAnime.com on April 25th 2016.
Katsushika Hokusai is one of the most revered Japanese artists in history, but he’s not quite the focus of this film. Rather Miss Hokusai focuses on his oldest daughter, O-Ei, who works as his assistant and is a talented artist in her own right, but is often overlooked by history.
This film tells a small, personal story, focusing on O-Ei’s personal interactions and the valuable lessons which would come to define her as an artist. There are also strong elements of the supernatural, though these are less a narrative device and more a representation of what was believed about the world at the time. The story is subtle, personal and moving. Characters are comfortable in beign still and silent and the pace is allowed to pick its time, avoiding any great rush.
Appropriately, this film is a visual delight, splicing in many different artistic styles for dream sequences and stories. Its soundtrack is somewhat harder to pin down, splicing in a traditional Japanese musical style with a more modern light-rock tune every now and again.
The tone veers into heavy ideas, but it treads subtly as it does so. Rather like a fine paintbrush, this film uses tone lightly and just where it needs to.
This film is making its way to the public in two weeks’ time. It’s a thoughful and balanced look at someone that history may not have given their credit, living in the shadow of their acclaimed parent. If you’re looking for a more reserved anime story, this one’s a delight.