Mar 2, 2016
tsubagakure (All reviews)
“nineteenth century Japan was a culturally dynamic society with much in common with its present-day counterpart. Many artists of the time, starting from Hokusai and his daughter O-Ei, had personalities and lives more interesting than any novelist could conceive."

depicting the life of Katsushika Hokusai, Sarusuberi, however, is far more than the eye meets. the film centres around O-Ei, daughter of the extraordinary artist Tetsuzo, was a woodblock artist herself, painting with and for her father.

more than just being and aging lonely man, Tetsuzo and his “cowardice”, as O-Ei so elegantly put, tends to isolate himself, even through he lives with O-Ei and his twit apprentice. O-Nao, his other daughter, blind since birth feels reluctant towards her father, thinking he might hate her, all of this because Tetsuzo has this derange with sickness, which makes him absented from the little girl. not only that, but Tetsuzo, in his mid-fifties, renowned all over Japan, paints day and night like a mad-man, making himself more and more apart from the real world.

O-Ei is a devoted older sister, showing the world outside to her blind little sister O-Nao, through the touch of water, the noise of the crowd, the scent of flowers; with this comes a type of love-hate relationship with her father, who deserted home and now lives in a shabby house. simply an act of compassion or the wishes of her mother, O-Ei shares the house with her father and works with him. here you’ll find the classical bijin art and ukiyo-e paintings who fascinated people like Van Gogh. painting with her father since a child, O-Ei grows to be a fantastic artist, though, in her melancholy, it seems to have no fulfilment on her. she’s a caring person, but something seems always off. she’s a character so unique in her own way that you tend to float away with her pensiveness. this film (production i.g) gives us the young seyuu Watababe Anne-san as O-Ei, and Shimizu Shion-chan in the role of O-Nao. it’s always good to have new talents discovered.

along the way you’ll find yourself surrounded by the mystical city of Edo, making the perfect scenario. since this is an adaptation of Sugiura Hinako-sensei’s manga, who was an enthusiast of the ancient Japan, i think the background art is beautifully delineated, from the snowy streets of the city, to the grand Ryogoku Bridge crossing it, making a poetic justice to her name and legacy. now, during the lines and colours, you’ll see, particularly in the woodblock paintings, a superb picturesque of the Edo days, like the splendid asian dragon to the nicest Oiran portrait in red-light district. the Japanese folklore plays an interesting role here, from the tales of dragons to the heaven and hell legends.

it is good to mention that Miss Hokusai won the Mainichi Film Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the Excellence Prize at the 39th annual Japan Academy Awards. so, why not go back in time and enjoy this singular masterpiece that retracts the passage from Tokugawa to the Meiji era, from Edo to Tokyo… teeming with life, samurai, nobles, artists, townsmen, merchants, courtesans, and a subtle touch of the unnatural, Miss Hokusai unveils a charismatic page in Japanese history spreading through the seasons, one that you may not want to miss.