Thursday, September 13, 2018

An Adventure in Anime - A Look at Miss Hokusai (2016)

By Cat

On a whim, I thought it would be interesting to pick a random anime to share with you today. OK, so I’ll admit, I did give the selection a little bit of purpose. Mainly, this was to rule out series and short films; but I also needed to ensure it would be a likely candidate to keep my attention long enough that I could stay awake for it. (I’ve had a rather narcoleptic couple of days this week.) The struggle is real.

I was intrigued by the quality of the animation on the movie cell used as the thumbnail for the film, and the blurb seemed to suggest that the story would be told from a female lead perspective. Add in the artistic element for this movie, and I was fairly certain that I’d have a winner.

I’m glad to report that the film turned out quite like I expected. The animation was stunning, the tale was decidedly from the perspective of a young woman, and the story painted a window through which to glimpse a small sliver of the rich Japanese culture.

The painting called ‘The Great Wave Off Kanagawa’ (or simply ‘The Wave’) has long been one that I have greatly admired. It just didn’t click right away that the artist of that famous piece was none other than Hokusai – the indirect subject of this film.

The story is told from his daughter’s perspective. The power and mysticism of art from this era of feudal Japan is paired well with a glimpse into the life of the artist. I’m not entirely sure that this was based on accurate historical accounts, however; as the movie’s statement of the artist’s age at the time of his passing and his age within historical records is different by several years.

It’s likely that this movie won’t be for everyone. I wish it were otherwise, but the fact of the matter is that it was rather slow in some places. The story seems to be going in a particular direction and then pumps the brakes and changes course a bit. It’s also a bit of an emotional ride. This is decidedly a pure drama. There are too few shades of other genres to be labeled anything different.

All the same, I was whisked away into the story and found myself enjoying it. This is a great example of how one form of art can inspire an artist of a different medium.

For fans of anime, Japanese history or art, and dramatic features – this movie is right up your alley. If you’ve never watched an anime before, I’m not entirely sure this is the best starter. However, the pacing is good for reading the subtitles.

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