Tag Archives: Hinako Sugiura

Just One Day at A Time with Miss Hokusai, A Movie Review

28 Mar

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Exotic beauty and supernatural magic grace Production IG’s animated biopic, Miss Hokusai. Based on the manga of the same name by Hinako Sugiura, this film follows the narrative style and simply offers moments of this artist’s life in Edo-period Japan.

With it now on video, I can start studying it more in-depth. My only disappointment is that the home release does not come with a lot of bonus material. A feature-length documentary about the making of this film is provided. I was craving more, especially when this anime explores an important time in Japan’s art history.

This look into the life of O-Ei (Anne Watanabe), daughter of revered painter Hokusai (Yutaka Matsushige), is very gentle and bittersweet. The plot looks at much of her life from her perspective as she shows how fiercely independent she is. Though she works as an assistant in her father’s studio, she often finishes what he can not finish when he’s being drunk (which is rare) or acting irresponsibly.

For artists wanting to look at why these Ukiyo-e works are majestic, I particularly liked the dialogue (I saw the subtitled version) explaining how the brush can invoke portals to other worlds. You have to be careful when painting a work featuring demons. At least with one work O-Ei made, real spirits came to haunt the residence. No title is offered for this work, but according to the soundtrack, it’s simply known as “The Cursed Picture of Hell.” When the work is retrieved, her father observed that because Hope was not offered, that’s why they visited. A simple detail was added and the evil left. However, there’s more to life in Edo period Japan because the Shinto life is not everywhere.

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