Tetsuko "Alice" Arisugawa, a transfer student to Ishinomori Middle School, hears a strange rumor that one year ago, "Judas was killed by four other Judas" in Class 1. While investigating, Alice discovers that the only person who may know the truth, Alice's classmate Hana, lives next door to her in the "Flower House" that everyone is scared of...
Eager to know more about the Judas murder, Alice sneaks into the Flower House to ask the reclusive Hana for more information about the Judas murder and why she's a recluse. The chance meeting of Hana and Alice sets them off on an adventure to solve the mystery of the "smallest murder in the world."
Note: I have not viewed the original live-action film Hana & Alice upon watching this film. Not that it really matters, this is a prequel. So watching this as a standalone is fine. Since there is no synopsis, allow me to set up the story.
9th grader Tetsuko Arisugawa (Arisu/Alice) moves to a new town and enrolls in school. Upon entering her new class, everyone seems to act indifferent towards her. She comes to find out that some awful misfortune only speculated by rumor had befallen the student who used to occupy her current desk the year before. As her classmates put it. She
has "broken the barrier" and may be subject to it's curse. Upon farther prying and a stroke of luck, Alice discovers that she in fact now lives in the house of the student who was supposedly murdered. The desk behind her is also vacant, a girl who turns out to be her neighbor who has been absent from class for over a year. Hana Arai, the only witness to what had happened to the student. Alice tries to confront this neighbor in order to get to the bottom of what happened to the student known as "Judas".
The story is well written. It manages to be compelling yet is very simplistic. There are elements of mystery but I wouldn't go as far as say it's suspenseful or a thriller. Nothing supernatural or unrealistically grand happen. It's pretty light on the melodrama and is rather comedic, but not overly blatant. Rather than corny jokes and routines, they rely on believable character interactions to provide dry humor. This film doesn't feel like an anime at all. It feels as if you are watching real people interact naturally as you would in your daily life. Hana to Alice is a charming coming of age light drama, nothing more, nothing less.
Rating 7 (for keeping a solid well paced narrative from beginning to end)
The art and animation is gonna be a hot hit or miss topic among people. Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over live footage frame by frame. This creates very fluent, lifelike movement of on screen characters and proper psychics to inanimate objects. The characters can also lack detail and sometimes feel out of place in contrast to it's backgrounds. I quite enjoy rotoscope when given proper attention. The full effect of rotoscope is seen with the dancing during ballet class. The colors between characters and backgrounds mesh together well. I also enjoyed the fairly detailed backdrops and lighting effects. My only issue with the animation during one particular scene when the background feels CG rendered and creates that unwelcome contrast I mentioned as we follow Alice from a shoulder perspective running through her home, and during a couple scenes were they use slow motion with no added effects. Rotoscoping may look good when moving in real time, but it's kinda unflattering, choppy, and just looks awkward going frame by frame. I feel like they could have done a better job smoothing out some of those scenes. Doing so would have provided the impact they were going for, instead it's just kinda... there.
Rating 7 (it had flaws, but for what it did right, it looked good)
The music was pretty enjoyable, I don't recall any piece that stood out besides the nice song played during the credits. It was all rather relaxing stuff. The voice acting was very good. The voice audio quality seemed to be a bit inconsistent, and at times, specifically in the classroom, I'm not sure if their intention was to create a reverb or not. Rating 7 (for the good acting)
Characters are the films strongest point. It's everything here. Hana and Alice are both very likable. Alice is polite and almost appears naive, but when a classmate attempts to bully her, Alice promptly shows that she isn't feeble in the least bit. She always seems to be speaking in a somewhat playful condescending manner. Alice is rather impulsive and her aloofness creates some very entertaining moments. The animation does wonders here, the sarcastic and sometimes dumbfounded look on her face really brings out the personality of her character. Hana shares Alice's headstrong attitude, which is why watching them banter is so enjoyable. Hana seems a bit more mature and responsible, taking a somewhat rational thought rather than letting her impulses guide her. She puts up a bit of a tough front, but it's apparent that she immediately takes a liking to Alice and feels like she needs to protect Alice from her goofy self.
Rating 9 (the interaction between these two make the film enjoyable, also so nice to get away from cliche archetypes)
To say I enjoyed this is a bit of an understatement. I loved it. I literally had a smile on my face throughout the film. As I mentioned before, this just doesn't feel like an anime. The story is somewhat compelling but more so about a fun enjoyable atmosphere. Just want to emphasize again, this is not a murder mystery thriller per say. The art was pleasant to view, the characters felt like people I know, there were plenty moments to laugh at, and a moment that tugged at those heart strings just a tad bit.
Rating 9 (had a blast watching this)
Overall the acting is what makes this show stand out, the VA's really brought the characters to life. The story was well written but didn't have a lot of depth or anything that makes it stand out among any other normal (non-supernatural, etc.) coming of age story. And with the sound quality a bit lackluster in the first half, and some minor gripes with certain animation sequences.
The final Score for this show is 7.5-8/10.
(subjectively, I can easily look pass these flaws, I'm gonna give it a 9 on my list, cause I absolutely loved it!)
How should put this.... The story was just simple but has a very DEEP MEANING. The entire time, I was just smiling and laughing. The story was so ASIAN. You know... not your Disney thing of coming of age. I don't know if Westerners and European viewers would find this as Exagerrated and find this stupid... Just so you know, As an Asian, though am not a Japanese, ..... tales, superstitions, and myths is very common in asian Countries. You know what? I laugh so hard because the film is just pretty realistic, I laugh because I realized how stupid I was during my highschool
days. This film just nailed on how are we before. I love how the story was delivered in a very simple way. What a lovely and heart warming story. It's simple but it's deep.
It started with Alice being a transferee and then she came to a School where her classroom had a story. She became the center of attraction due to the story of her desk, and then I just realized that I was already hooked along with the story. WHAT IS THE REAL STORY OF HER DESK?! Then suddenly, I was already in a friendship story, to discovery, to the truth and to the reality, How fragile human feeling is. You can't move on if you don't know the truth, and you can't move unless you accept the reality. Or else you'll suffer and live with a stagnant life. You must also know when you are suffering, you might don't know, somebody out there is also suffering because of your sufferings. Watch your actions, or you might cause sufferings to others without your realizations. What an EYE OPENER film.
Regarding its animation, I find it more like a Live action than an Anime. It's not weird, but it's really good.
Overall, I enjoyed this film a lot. Very simple but worth watching.
Hana to Alice: Satsujin Jiken is a film that passed over many people's heads back in early 2015, but it retains a relatively high rating from its modest following. Hana to Alice is an animated prequel to a live-action film that came out over a decade ago, back in 2004. You require no background from the Hana to Alice universe to enjoy this film; I went into this film without any prior knowledge at all and still immensely enjoyed it. At its core, Hana to Alice is a character-driven narrative with a heavy focus on subtleties, in terms of both characters and atmosphere. It is
a slow-paced but captivating experience with an overarching mystery plot that opts not for suspense, but immersion as its primary means of engagement.
And Hana to Alice is also my favourite animated film yet.
Hana to Alice is an entirely character-driven filmーif you don't like the characters, you won't like the film. The good news is that it is difficult to dislike Alice; let alone hate her, though Hana is a bit harder to like. Alice takes the reins for the first half of the film, joined by deuteragonist Hana at around the 40-minute mark. Hana and Alice are a big part of what makes this film so captivating. They are a very quirky and unorthodox duo, but they still manage to be believable characters because of all the attention to their subtleties. Hana and Alice propel the plot forward at the mercy of their whims. The film is peppered with light comedy throughout, with some of the best humour coming from the duo's deadpan banter. Hana and Alice are incredibly endearing, interesting and well-rounded characters with a lot of subtle development; both as characters and in their relationship with each other. I'll save you the character descriptions, as they are something best experienced first-hand, and I don't want to force these characters into too small a box to fit their characterisation. Hana to Alice is a film that heavily relies on subtle, effective storytelling; showing, rather than telling.
Hana and Alice are the heart of this film, but they are certainly not the only characters with personality and substance. There are several side characters that each gets their time to shine, with one of the most notable examples of this being a character that has absolutely no relevance to the plot. The significant amount of attention given to this particular character could be seen as obstructive to the flow of the plot, but in Hana to Alice's case, the plot isn't the pointーthe characters are. The plot is treated more as an accessory than anything else; something for Hana and Alice to guide in any direction they please. Hana to Alice explores its characters through several of these subplots throughout the film with its peculiar, but compelling style.
Hana to Alice has a simplistic plotline which mostly serves as a stage for its charactersーHana, Alice and the less prominent characters too. For most of the film, the plot coasts along, gradually bringing in new elements that are part of the overarching mystery. In hindsight, the mystery itself was incredibly simple, and it was constructed for the sole purpose of serving as a foil to develop and flesh out its characters. The reveal of the mystery was ultimately satisfying and ever-so-slightly reminiscent of Hyouka in how even the mysteries serve the characters' development.
Though not immediately, it wasn't soon after the film started that it had me engaged in its narrative and invested in its characters. I enjoyed how Hana to Alice presented its narrative overall, though it wasn't until about halfway through when Hana is thrown into the narrative that I really started to get immersed in the story. Hana to Alice is very much a slow film, but you're liable to forget this when its titular characters have you so engrossed in their unpredictable banter and mischief. While you may try to wave off its slow start with the word 'suspense', I hold that Hana to Alice is not a suspenseful film. Anticipation is mostly lacking as well because Hana to Alice has you so engrossed with what is happening right now, as opposed to what has yet to happen. The film slowly draws you into its world with light tension, intrigue, and peerless character. That's not suspense or anticipation: that's immersion.
For the film to succeed as well as it does, the first half needed to set the foundations appropriately for the rest of the film to build on. If you come into Hana to Alice expecting a well-crafted and well-paced mystery film, you're going in with the wrong mindset and will likely end up feeling like not enough is happening in the beginning. What the first half manages to accomplish quite well is how it sets up Alice as a character on her own, rather than defining her by her interactions with Hana. There is a lack of meaningful drama in the first half, but I did like how they spent that time fleshing out Alice's personality and how she functions as an individual character. It has plenty of character and are lined with an abundance of the deadpan humour characteristic of Hana to Alice. It isn't only Alice, eitherーthe film manages to flesh out other compelling characters on its way through. The first half is mostly lacking in significant plot developments, but this is because Hana to Alice isn't about the plot; it's about the characters, and the film makes sure you know that by gradually drawing you into its world and getting you to care about its characters. As a mystery drama, Hana to Alice is lacking in suspense and hooks in its narrative; its pacing is terrible for a mystery drama. But Hana to Alice wasn't meant to be a mystery dramaーthat's why it fails at it. The mystery elements that this film has are meant to build a sense of intrigue and nothing more. It's important that you go into Hana to Alice expecting a character drama, not a mystery drama.
Hana to Alice pays a lot of homage to 'everyday life' throughout its durationーit makes every effort to capture all the subtleties and nuances of everyday life in Japan, which is a big part of what lends it a genuine sense of realism. This carefully-crafted atmosphere exists for the titular characters Hana and Alice; Hana to Alice is a story about the adolescent lives of two middle school girls. While it may be apparent at first, Hana to Alice has heavy coming-of-age undertones. It isn't overbearing about it and it isn't overly preachyーit is told in a subtle, unobtrusive way, wholly grounded in reality. Hana to Alice accomplishes this seamlessly in part because of how fantastic the atmosphere is, but also because of how carefully it handles its characters. That said, the characters don't actually grow that much by the end of the film. This is to be expected, however, as Hana to Alice is a prequel film, largely intended to set plot and character elements up for the 2004 sequel film. Hana to Alice is inherently focused more on setup than execution; what happens here is a comparatively smaller event in their lives to the one in the 2004 live-action film. Hana to Alice: Satusjin Jiken is merely an account of Hana and Alice's meeting, not how their relationship survives against waves of adversity. Satsujin Jiken is nothing more than the beginning.
In spite of its prequel status, this doesn't mean that Hana and Alice don't grow at all by the end of the film. On the contrary, Hana hits something of a turning point in her life. However, despite it being a significant event, she only changes in small, subtle ways. Because of this, she remains a believable, realistic character. Real people don't change overnightーthey change gradually and in small ways, and rarely substantially. Whatever happens, we end up as the same person at the end of the day. Adolescence is a time of finding yourself, rather than changing yourself. This is a time for youths to discover who they really are and work on refining themselves. Hana to Alice explores this concept throughout the film primarily in the background but with remarkable precision and believability. 'Believability' is the key word with Hana to Aliceーeverything feels believable and authentic in this film: when Alice transfers to her new school, the sense of awkwardness is rendered perfectly, immediately making it both believable and relatable. It's this authentic atmosphere that slowly drew me into the world and the endearing characters that gradually got me to care about them and their troubles. It has been quite a long time since I've felt so attached to any fictional character, but Hana to Alice manages to accomplish double the feat in a mere hour and a half.
Hana and Alice carry the film effortlessly with lots of personality and plenty of playful banter. These are characters with a strong sense of identity; characters that feel real and relatable. Hana and Alice are fleshed out and gradually develop over the course of the film as we get to know more about and see more of them. At no point are they boring; Hana and Alice are organic characters with a lot of depth (and a lot of quirkiness). It would be easy to gloss over Hana's development, what her friendship with Alice means to her and how it has changed her because of a thankful lack of melodrama or narration telling us what these characters are feeling. Subtlety is a big part of what I love about Hana to Alice, and it is most prominent in the way it characterises and develops its characters (not only the leads) with believable dialogue and a distinct lack of narration. Hana to Alice doesn't tell you what a character is feeling; it shows you through body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. The film makes full use of the medium and doesn't force its audience to listen to meandering monologues. While it isn't always true that showing is better than telling, Hana to Alice makes a very good case for it.
Hana to Alice adopts the rotoscoping animation style in pursuit of capturing an authentic atmosphere that, while reminiscent of the unintentionally hilarious Aku no Hana adaptation, is countless leagues better and never looks anywhere near as bad (i.e. it was animated by a competent team). The art style and animation is one of this film's strongest pointsーit looks phenomenal. While it may take a while to adjust to the quirks of its rotoscoping, the backgrounds are consistently beautiful throughout the entirety of its runtime. To top it all off, the animation is incredibly smooth with a high framerate. If nothing else, Hana to Alice serves as fantastic eye candy because of its tall production values and the great care the animation team has taken with how the rotoscoping animation was done, as Aku no Hana has masterfully proven how easy it is to get it completely wrong.
Likewise, Hana to Alice boasts a fantastic soundtrack that manages never to obstruct the atmosphereーa feat that few films/shows can claim--instead only adding to it. There is a seamless synergy between the OST and the film, to the point where listening to the soundtrack on its own (which is very possible because it is superbly competent) or watching the movie with different music would greatly take away from the experience. In particular, a very memorable song is played right as the film reaches its climax and could be considered the theme of Hana to Alice. It also utilises a plethora of atmospheric sound effectsーclattering plates, soft footsteps, voices in the background trailing off and the hustle and bustle of the cityーliberally throughout the film, and it does well to craft an authentic atmosphere.
The voice actors for the main cast are the same as those who were in the live-action sequel, so it should come as no surprise that they perfectly portray Hana and Alice's boundless energy and all of their eccentricities. While the rest of the cast may be overshadowed by the eponymous duo's expert performance, they are almost as, if not just as skillful in portraying all of their own character's quirks and subtleties.
Hana to Alice is slow-paced but well-paced, gradually drawing you into its world, its characters, and its drama. The film has impressive production values, with art that is easy on the eyes and a soundtrack that is pleasantly immersive. It is my humble opinion that Hana to Alice is everything that Slice Of Life anime should aspire to be, with thorough consideration given to both the atmosphere and the characters, the things I most appreciate in all forms of entertainment. Hana to Alice has renewed my interest in the SOL genre in spades. By the end of the film, I felt immensely satisfied in spite of its prequel statusーit didn't even really feel like a prequel, as Satsujin Jiken has its own standalone story that it wants to tell. However, it doesn't forget that it's connected to the Hana to Alice universe and does well to set the groundwork for the live-action sequel film.
The Bottom Line: If you enjoy carefully-written and eloquent character-driven narratives and appreciate an authentic atmosphere, I implore you to pick up Hana to Alice as soon as you can, but go in expecting a character drama, rather than a mystery drama.
The story is disjointed. The first half of the story barely has any relation to the second half. Many characters are introduced in the first half that are not mentioned again later on.
Any character development is abandoned by the middle and is a plot devise to move the "story" along. Alice's involvement in track and ballet are used to make her more interested in "Judas". However, she reveals to Hana that she has no interest in finding out about him. Both leads are static.
There is a forced scene in the middle that leads to an hour of filler. The original story was a one volume
manga that could have fit into a 30 minute OVA. They stretched it so they could attract film distributors, but sacrificed the quality of the movie for earnings potential.
The animation was cheap. The backgrounds were photos put through a photoshop filter. The characters were traced. The expressions were off and the reactions were delayed. The most effort was put into the poster, projecting a false image of what the movie looks like.
The music was not bad, but it was plagiarized. When Alice is in a park, Moonlight Sonata is playing, but at the melancholy drop, it changes to a different piece.
Overall, the original story was stretched out. The art was cheap to the point that it was detrimental to the story telling. The music was plagiarized. There was no character development.