Japanese Title: 百日紅 ～Miss HOKUSAI～
Romaji: Sarusuberi ～Miss HOKUSAI～
Release Date: May 09th, 2015
Running Time: N/A
Director: Keiichi Hara
Writer: Miho Maruo (Screenplay), Hinako Sugiura (Original Creator),
Starring: Anne Watanabe (O-Ei), Yutaka Matsushige (Tetsuzo/Katsushika Hokusai), Shion Shimizu (O-Nao), Kumiko Aso (Sayogoromo), Kengo Kora (Utagawa Kuninao), Gaku Hamada (Zenjiro/Keisai Eisen), Jun Miho (Koto), Michitaka Tsutsui (Katsugoro/Totoya Hokkei), Danshun Tatekawa (Manjido),
Last week I wrote a post about Miss Hokusai, an anime film that has caught my attention and I believe is worth checking out because of the talent involved and the early art work. Well now a trailer has been released and thanks to anime blogger beatslars, I have been alerted to the trailer which was reported on Anime News Network so here it is!
I know that Japanese people love their puns but the writers for the trailer commentary have outdone themselves with ukiyo-entertainment which had me smiling!
Anyway, this based on Hinako Sugiura’s manga Sarusuberi and is about the daughter of the legendary Japanese artist Hokusai, a woman who is talented in her own right and assists her father in his work but goes uncredited.
The trailer shows off the seiyuu and animation in action and it has a mature feeling to it. Forgive me for making a glib comparison but it has a sort of atmosphere from Whisper of the Heart where there is a level of seriousness taken with characters and their emotions but flights of fancy break in (mostly thanks to the art).
I like how Miss Hokusai herself, O-Ei, is a somewhat gruff and no-nonsense character, a feeling delivered through Anne Watanabe’s vocal performance. She talks to people with some rather curt language! Her physical design is distinctive. She doesn’t have the refined air of the other female characters glimpsed in the trailer and likes to smoke and kill flies at the same time but, more importantly, what is going on inside of her is the focus. She is talented enough to produce fashion designs (a traditional way for women to show their artistic talent when male dominated centres of art would/might reject them. Look at the story of Rose Bertin to see something along those lines) and help her father with his art.
She also seems to have a good heart and it seems like she gets her own conventional romance.
But I’m more interested in her rough edges. She share’s her father’s eyebrows and I’m guessing a little of his demeanour and is no doubt frustrated by her lack of recognition and living with her crotchety old man which we can see and hear in a brief clip of Yutaka Matsushige’s growly performance.
It is this grittiness that the girl has that allowed her to become an artist in her own right in real life!
The setting is familiar to anyone who has watched period pieces like Fuse: A Gun Gi’s Detective Story (the original story written by Kazuki Sakuraba) and anime rich in Japanese culture like Hoozuki no Reitetsu (the original manga is written and illustrated by Natsumi Eguchi). The feeling will be reinforced by the pictures of Oni and Yurei that pop up in the trailer and, like those two anime, this new film seems to have supernatural elements:
More promisingly for the people interested in art history the animation looks to incorporate Hokusai’s works:
There’s even some of his shunga on display, though with the naughty bits cut out:
I’m even more excited by this project thanks to this trailer (not the shunga, honest). Like I said in my original preview, this is a fascinating story of a person we know too little about. In an age where past female artists in the Western world are being rediscovered and written about, it’s great to see a Japanese one.
Here’s the story of the film from Anime News Network and the early preview I posted last week:
Production I.G describes the story of Miss Hokusai:
The time: 1814.
The place: Edo, now known as Tokyo. One of the highest populated cities in the world, teeming with peasants, samurai, townsmen, merchants, nobles, artists, courtesans, and perhaps even supernatural things.
A much accomplished artist of his time and now in his mid-fifties, Tetsuzo can boast clients from all over Japan, and tirelessly works in the garbage-loaded chaos of his house-atelier. He spends his days creating astounding pieces of art, from a giant-size Bodhidharma portrayed on a 180 square meter-wide sheet of paper, to a pair of sparrows painted on a tiny rice grain. Short-tempered, utterly sarcastic, with no passion for sake or money, he would charge a fortune for any job he is not really interested in.
Third of Tetsuzo’s four daughters and born out of his second marriage, outspoken 23-year-old O-Ei has inherited her father’s talent and stubbornness, and very often she would paint instead of him, though uncredited. Her art is so powerful that sometimes leads to trouble. “We’re father and daughter; with two brushes and four chopsticks, I guess we can always manage, in a way or another.”
Decades later, Europe was going to discover the immense talent of Tetsuzo. He was to become best known by one of his many names: Katsushika Hokusai. He would mesmerize Renoir and van Gogh, Monet and Klimt.
However, very few today are even aware of the woman who assisted him all his life, and greatly contributed to his art while remaining uncredited. This is the untold story of O-Ei, Master Hokusai’s daughter: a lively portrayal of a free-spirited woman overshadowed by her larger-than-life father, unfolding through the changing seasons.
This is an important story and the images from the film are pretty awesome. I’m excited about this one because the director has earned my respect for some of his work and the animation comes from one of my favourite anime studios, Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor) and some really talented people on staff.
The original creator of the story Hanako Sugiura is an interesting person. She
was the daughter of a kimono merchant and made her manga debut in 1980 in the experimental magazine Garo, the place where artists Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Oji Suzuki, and Usamaru Furuya both came to fame (I will have a series of manga reviews of works taken from Garo magazine coming soon). The website Prominent People of Minato City states that Sugiura defined her work with intricately researched historical stories about Japan’s Edo period with a focus on customs and manners and her unique storytelling won the Japan Cartoonists’ Association Award in 1984 and the Bunshun Manga Award in 1988. She retired from being a manga artist in 1995 and became a regular participant on NHK’s television program Comedy: Oedo de gozaru (Comedy; This is Edo) and was popular as the expert guide who gave interesting easy-to-understand commentaries about Edo culture. Unfortunately she passed away in 2005 at the young age of 46.
The film is directed by Keiichi Hara who has worked extensively on popular television shows, such as Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan but really came to international prominence with the Japan Academy Prize-winner Summer Days with Coo (2007), a film about a kappa and the suburban family he lives with (which I haven’t seen), and Annecy double winner (Jury’s Special Distinction and the Audience Award), the dark but ultimately life-affirming story about suicide and the afterlife Colorful (2010) which made me cry when I saw it at last year’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival. I mean, I did not expect much from that film but was blown away. He reportedly admires classic Japanese filmmakers such as Keisuke Kinoshita and made a film about the director in 2013 which starred Ryo Kase.
This work will be brought to the screen by a very talented staff. The screenplay is written by Miho Maruo and she wrote the screenplays for Kyousogiga and Colorful two examples of well-written and humane anime even if they have heavy supernatural elements. The chief animation director/character designer is Yoshimi Itazu who has done sterling work on Dennou Coil and The Wind Rises, as well as taking over as director on Yume-Miru Kikai, the last film Satoshi Kon was working on before he died. Hiroshi Ohno, art director on Le Chevalier D’Eon and art director on A Letter to Momo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and The Wolf Children is in charge of background art. The assistant director is Masako Sato, a veteran of many Ghibli films such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away.
Friday last week saw the Production I.G announce the cast for Miss Hokusai with an interesting list of names that includes Anne Watanabe (Ninja Kids!!!), Kengo Kora (The Drudgery Train, The Story of Yonosuke, The Woodsman & the Rain), Yutaka Matsushige (The Guard from Underground), Kumiko Aso (Pulse, License to Live), and Gaku Hamada (See You Tomorrow, Everyone, Sake-Bomb, The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck and God in a Coin Locker).
Miss Hokusai is released in Japan on May 09th and in what turned out to be a lovely surprise the UK will get a theatrical release in October/November and a home video release on DVD and Blu-Ray soon after that thanks to Anime Limited. Andew Patridge, President of Anime Limited said:
“I’m thrilled to be able to bring this beautiful film to the UK. It’s a wonderful story with an interesting historical setting that is both enjoyable and fascinating. I’m really looking forward to giving this film a great release.
I’ll say it again, I am pretty excited about this one. This looks like the anime version of the wonderful film Mr Turner and it will be something I can talk about in work at the gallery. Films set in the Edo period are fascinating to me and it looks beautiful. There have been too few anime films that aren’t related to a franchise and aimed at kids/teens and it looks like this will be high quality.