I had seen the trailer of this Japanese animated film last year and have been wanting to see it. I’m not a fan of typical modern Japanese anime with young girls & Kawaii culture …but there are a lot of other quality animated films in Japan, of course. Miss Hokusai is definitely one of them.
Miss Hokusai is based on a comic book by Hinako Sugiura, who has passed away back in 2005. I didn’t know about her until this movie was made, but the story is about the Edo period’s one of the most celebrated artist, Katsushika Hokusai. I am sure you have seen his art, like this one, before.
Miss Hokusai is written from Hokusai’s daughter, O-ei’s perspective. According to Wikipedia, she inherited Hokusai’s artistic talent, and she did a lot of work for her father. She also was a very talented artist herself. Just like Hokusai’s real pieces, the artwork inside the film are all stunning.
Like Hokusai, O-ei was pretty eccentric. Both the father and the daughter didn’t cook or clean. They just kept creating in the dirty room covered with trash. If it gets too dirty, they just moved. (Japanese Wikipedia entry says Hokusai had moved 93 times in his life). You can learn more about O-ei and see her artwork in this Spoon & Tamago post.
Miss Hokusai is full of charming little episodes including some ghost stories, like of a wife of one of Hokusai’s art owner who starts seeing things because of Hokusai’s art of Hell. She gets sick, but her husband doesn’t want to get rid of the art as it’s a masterpiece. Hokusai has a witty fix to this problem. There is also quite poignant storyline about O-ei’s blind younger sister, O-nao. O-ei definitely was not a traditional woman, was not very feminine, she was almost rude to others and didn’t care what others thought of her. But in the movie, we can see that she loved her younger sister very much, and she is very tender with her. I loved seeing them together.
The film showed me what it’s like to be an artist, as well as to be living in the Edo period. It’s visually fantastic and some scenes were quite unusual and breathtaking. The Fire scene, as well as the way they used shadow and light in some scenes was quite beautiful.
I had a rough week, and I went to see this film alone. I cried on my way to the theatre, and I cried on my way home thinking of the film. Sometimes, I don’t know how I survived this far with such sensitive heart.
Don’t miss this film if you have a chance to see it.