While the vast majority of people must have heard at least one time in their life about Hokusai, the famous painter, little of them know about his talented daughter, O-Ei.
So, maybe now you are interested in knowing the life of this mysterious unknown woman? Maybe you want to see the movie to find the truth and discover her life from her young age to her death...well, if that's the case, you might end up to be a little disappointed by this movie ^^ .
But here, I'll try to tell you why you should watch it nonetheless and what is in fact the qualities (and the little minor default) of this movie:
See, Miss Hokusai, while being centered around the figure of O-Ei, isn't about her life, instead the movie take the gamble to opt for a slice of life aspect, developing around little separated scenes involving the little crew of marginal painter composed of Tetsuzo (more known by the name of Hokusai) the monolithic eccentric artist, and his disciples, including O-Ei.
The movie also didn't chose to make the relationship daughter-father into a central aspect, and the hint about the link of the two character is discreetly spread through the movie instead.
Then about those different scenes I'm talking about, they can mostly be divided into two categories:
First the one including Hokusai, one of his slightly drunken disciple (provider of some of the comical aspect of the movie) and O-Ei. These moments follow the crew involved in problems and mystery that they will solve with painting. In them, some supernatural and fantastic aspect are surprisingly very present, would it be a menacing dragon lurking in the dark clouds of the sky, or the spirit of a geisha coming out of her body at night.
These moments, while being creative and unexpected, are not the best in the movie, instead, the real highlight of this movie come from the second type of scene:
In them, we discover O-nao, the younger sister of O-Ei, who had the misfortune to be born blind. These moments, with O-Ei walking around, "showing" O-nao the living life of the people traveling a pond, or listening to the silent in a snowy day, are very meaningful and powerful moments.
In fact, those moments reveal one of the best quality of this movie: the emotion is never expressed directly in a frontal way, with heavy talk and shows of tears, but by little touch, when O-Ei warmly touched her sisters little hands or when the screen simply took the time to show us her face, slightly smiling looking at her younger sister playing in the snow, discovering the discreet wonders of everyday life.
The relation between O-nao and her father, never showing up to her, is also a very impactful aspect of the movie, even if never addressed frontally.
But what about the music? Well it might be the weakest point of the movie. The movie take the bet on using rock instrumental music and sound, surely to try to emphasis on the modernity and strong whiled feminism of O-Ei...and while the intention is visible, the result don't match and feel out of place. Other than that, the sound and music are quite rare and most of the time the scene will be composed of the character talking without ambient music or much sound, which accentuate the slow pacing of the movie (while it's not really a default, it should be mentioned for those reluctant to watch a movie without action like this, that they might find boring).
I didn't talked much about O-Ei in herself, but even if I might have made clear that the movie is not really about developing her character or make us enter in her life completely, she stays a very refreshing and free woman, a type of character that is not that often seen in anime, and it's also one of the good points of this movie.
To summarize: if you like slice of life anime, if you want to take a look and feel what life in the end of the Edo periodeperiod was like, then you should watch this movie and will surely enjoy it.
Thank you for reading this review to the end.