The story follows Benio "Haikara-san" Hanamura, who lost her mother when she was very young and has been raised by her father, a high-ranking official in the Japanese army. As a result, she has grown into a tomboy -- contrary to traditional Japanese notions of femininity, she studies kendo, drinks sake, dresses in often outlandish-looking Western fashions instead of the traditional kimono, and is not as interested in housework as she is in literature. She also rejects the idea of arranged marriages and believes in a woman's right to a career and to marry for love.
I watched this movie at the Akibapass Festival in Frankfurt, Germany. First of all, I have to say that I'm not familiar with the original source (published from 1975 to 1979) or the older anime series, which aired from 1978 to 1979. As it is I cannot compare it to these works and watched it completely unaffected and without any previous knowledge, besides the information which has been included in the trailer. Though as it is written on the manga source page, Haikara-san ga Tooru won the first Kodansha Manga Award for shoujo in 1977, so likely it has been very good as well.
story is put-together enjoyable and the art of storytelling has been made in a very lovely way. The transition between different scenes was often in such a smooth way that you just had to smile at how it was done. As the genre allocation of this anime says Comedy, Historical, Romance, and Shoujo, you get exactly that. I laughed or smiled a lot, while I was watching this movie and as I experienced it at the cinema I was surely not the only one with this expression aka impression of this movie. The historical aspects are also depicted quite well and one or the other scene reminded me of pictures I've seen before (in preparation for a presentation I made) about this era. Also, I haven't seen such a pure romance shoujo for a while, which means some scenes have been worked out almost unrealistically perfect or smooth. But still very enjoyable and sweet. For sure something recommendable for romanticists.
The art was clean, consistent and very lovely. I wouldn't describe it as the most artistic outstanding work ever, but it really was enjoyable. As I've seen this movie only once yet, I cannot further go into detail with this point.
The creators have taken great care of this production. The character design and composition also make it very enjoyable.
As it is Part 1 out of two movies, the story is not yet concluded but the first movie is in its own a great work and is not only the introduction to a bigger following story.
(Like some other multi-part movies have been created.)