Director and screenplay: Keiichi Hara
· Apricot – Sakae
· Yutaka Matsushige – Katsushika Hokusai
· Hamada Take – Ikeda Yoshiro
Production: Production IG
Running Time: 90 min
Release Date: May 9,2015
Official Site: sarusuberi-movie.com/sp/
1814. Edo, the modern Tokyo, one of the most populous and active cities in the world, a place where various social strata cross, peasants, samurai, merchants, nobles and artists. In this latter category stands out Tetsuzō, who lives separately from his family in his chaotic and shabby lab together with his O-Ei daughter. Twenty-three is the third daughter of Tetsuzō, born of her second marriage. Vibrant, no hair on the tongue and endowed like the father of a great talent for painting, so much so that she is the one who accomplishes the work for the father who just confines to signing them. Tetsuzō will later become famous in Europe and around the world as Hokusai Katsushika, perhaps the most well-known Japanese artist ever. Not particularly interested in alcohol and the other sex, but absorbed in his art, Tetsuzō / Hokusai continues his life with his daughter between highs and lows, strange supernatural encounters, fantasies (even erotic) and artistic reveries.
Hara Keiichi returns to lead an animated feature film after her parenthesis with Hajimari no michi, a film about the life of the famous director and her relationship with her mother. Hara had started her career in the mid-eighties just as author of some animations dedicated to Doraemon first, and above all a large number of Crayon Shin-chan films later on, until 2005. The leap of quality and popularity at international level would arrive in 2007 with Kappa no kū to natsu yasumi (Summer Days with Coo) and especially 3 years later with the handsome Colorful. Now with Miss Hokusai, he is confirmed to be one of the most interesting authors in the field of animation with Shinkai Makoto, Hosoda Mamoru and Okiyura Hiroyuki, without of course counting the great old people, and this because he is able to detach himself from the narrative style of various colossas such as Miyazaki or Oshii and Year.
One of the reasons why Miss Hokusai has been criticized for his release is in fact the rhapsodic and almost slice-of-life manner with which he builds the story of Hokusai and his daughter, a very light touch where characters no longer develop so much and where the great productions of Production IG have, to hear the detractors, touched only the surface of the period and the lives of the protagonists. If this is undoubtedly true and perhaps also due to the manga style and content to which it is inspired, it is also to be said that the episodic stylistic figure adopted by Hara and collaborators – there is not a strong and powerful story that moves as in the best Ghibli, to understand – allows an oblique approach and a “different” fruition of the stories that are told in the film.
As mentioned above, the beautiful animations, especially the palette of colors used, along with the rock music that accompanies the ninety minutes of the feature film, give to the work a very peculiar, sparkling and lively shade as filtered by the look of the female protagonist. Moreover, although it is only a matter to be mentioned, it seems to us that the figure of Hokusai and the artist in general is highly criticized, albeit with the smile between the lips. Involved in his powerful and ingenious reverie, as a painter in his own way exploits the talent of his daughter, which in fact is not mentioned in the history books, and as a father, especially to the sick little daughter who refuses to see, but also to the same E-Oi, it turns out to be a bad parent when not a bad human being. What are all the beautiful and unique works when it has not been able to stay next to its two daughters? This seems to be the ultimate question of the film, formulated in a toe and lightly but still very clearly in my way of seeing. The same thing happens to all men in general: when they do not engage in running behind the brothels or in the streets, making money or drinking, there is little positive about the male universe. Certainly the vision we have is female, but the comic and erotic situations – two or three scenes are particularly explicit – they make us laugh but also reflect on the type of masked male society represented.
In conclusion, you can certainly say that Miss Hokusai is a remarkable animated work played on the freshness of situations, the vitality of the characters and the rhapsodic trend, not at all trivial as it might seem to an inadvertent, very subtle and ambiguous vision in his criticism smile, and with a very melancholy subtle.