I recently landed a role as contributor to V-Cinema and I have reviewed a number of films for the website. I have been something of a fan and enjoyed listening to their podcasts when they have covered Japanese cinema so I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team and helping to highlight Japanese cinema. Writing reviews is something I enjoy doing and I hope people enjoy reading my reviews!
Here’s a snippet of my review of the film Miss Hokusai (2015), the latest from Keiichi Hara Colorful (2010). It tells the story of one of Katsushika Hokusai’s daughters, O-Ei, who was an artist in her own right. It is a historical tale played with some comedy and a touch of fantasy and rich in period detail.
The film is based on a manga from an award-winning creator Hanako Sugiura who 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 all came to fame. 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. She passed away in 2005 at the age of 46.
百日紅 ～Miss HOKUSAI～ 「Sarusuberi ～Miss HOKUSAI～」
Release Date: February 20th, 2015
Running Time: 89 mins.
Director: Keiichi Hara
Writer: Miho Maruo (Screenplay), Hinako Sugiura (Original Creator),
Studio: Production I.G
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),
The history of art is dominated by men. For much of history women were denied educational opportunities in the arts and some those who dared to create works found their careers were painted over in the grand narratives of art history (usually written by men). There were some female artists such as Berthe Morisot, Artemisia Gentileschi, Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, and Angelica Kauffmann who defied social mores to create, inspire, and amaze during their professional careers but for many more female artists, their works and lives remain waiting to be discovered, not least in Japan, a part of the world which has had a profound effect on the development of art.
When you think of Japanese art, chances are that you are familiar with the celebrated ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai whose woodblock prints of subjects such as Mount Fuji have become representative images of Japan. His most famous is “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” that features a huge wave of blue surging water topped by white foam framing Mount Fuji. It is an image that can be found in galleries, on posters, and other types of merchandise and it is images like these that inspired some of the stylistic techniques of the French Impressionists. Would it surprise you to hear that Katsushika Hokusai had a daughter who was also an artist? That she created works in her own right? That some scholars suggest she was more than just her father’s assistant but a close collaborator who played a major role in his art as he neared 90 and had palsy? Like many a female artist it seems that her contribution to art has been forgotten about by history, something which the anime “Miss Hokusai” seeks to redress.
Here’s the link to the rest of the review on VCinema and here are some pictures: