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Miss Hokusai


Miss Hokusai captures both imagination and heart immediately. With a crisp, clean animation style and an underlying dark humour, it presents complex characters that defy the stereotypical gender storyline.

Based on an original Manga series but focusing on only one of the characters Miss Hokusai tells the story of O-Ei (voice by Anne Watanabe) and her father Hokusai (Yutaka Matsushinge). The daughter and her father live and work together as artists in 1800’s Japan. Hokusai is shown not only as the famous Edo period painter we now know but as a deeply flawed paternal figure. His daughter, as the moral compass desperately guiding him towards reconciliation with his second, estranged child.

The animation is clean and fresh, the story clear and interesting but the film really takes off when it explores the magically side of the famous painter and his equally talented daughter. It alludes to the very real powers a painting can possess and the very real effects these powers can have over those who look at them. In doing so it fully explores the visual possibilities only animation has access to. And for that reason (choosing a medium by which no other would serve as well) Miss Hokusai operates on both the realistic plane and the supernatural, effortless gliding between the two, highlighting and embellished each opposing style of storytelling to become a sum greater than it’s parts. Again Miss Hokusai should be credited for the Studio Ghibli esq. choice of an empowered, capable female driving the narrative, someone whose work and family trumps any romantic deviations. An unusual pace sometimes left me a little disoriented but when a film looks a beautiful as this does I was happy to sit back and go with the flow.

It’s funny and moving, magical and intelligent. Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)
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UK Release Date: 
Friday, February 5, 2016