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‘Miss Hokusai’ (review)

f20579bcfd9e3f44abf7cb739af260fc1472221598_fullProduced by Keiko Matsushita,
Asako Nishikawa

Written by Miho Maruo
Based on Sarusuberi by Hinako Sugiura
Starring Anne Higashide, Yutaka Matsushige,
Gaku Hamada, Shion Shimizu, Michitaka Tsutsui

Miss Hokusai is a kind of coming-of-age story about, O-Ei, the daughter of renowned Edo-period artist, Hokusai. Hokusai, who is most well known in America for the famous woodblock print “The Giant Wave off Kanagawa” and “Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” the shunts, or “erotic art” of a woman bring ravaged by a giant octopus.

A painter herself, O-Ei lives with her father and paints not only under his name, but also under her own as well.  O-Ei and Hokusai’s lives are intertwined and the film perfectly depicts the struggle that both have with living with each other and how one, in turn, influences the other in both art and their personal lives.

We see, though beautiful animation, the day to day life of O-Ei and how she balances her work as her father’s student, his caretaker and her own life and relationships with men and women. Throughout all of this she also helps take care of her blind younger sister and her mother whom is divorced from Hokusai and lives apart from them.

Production house I.G.(creators of the Ghost in the Shell anime) has created a stunning work of art that is comparable to the work of Miyazaki and does justice to the story of the flawed yet always striving to be better, O-Ei.

The pacing and story telling is comparable to the best of Studio Ghibli and director Keiichi Hara has done a wonderful job at juxtaposing the seemingly mundane life of Hokusai and O-Ei with the supernatural and wondrousness of the still spirit-world influenced Edo period of Japan around them.

I found this semi-biographical “slice of life” film to be sweet and sometimes sad. I really had no idea what to expect going into this film and I will say I was more than pleasantly surprised with how it left me feeling. It is never too sappy and never too serious. light humor and a cast of colorful side characters keep the film lively and fresh.

I would definitely recommend this film to people who loved The Wind Rises, My Neighbor Totoro, and Whisper of the Heart. I thought it was lovely and made me want to research more about both Hokusai and his daughter, O-Ei.

For more details regarding where you can screen this film, Click HERE!


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