I finally managed to catch this gem on its second screening.
Keiichi Hara directs Miss Hokusai, a work of art that rivals the intricate paintings appearing in this anime. It’s a subtle but intricate set of stories, all happening around expert painter Tetsuzo known famously in the city of Edo at Hokusai. The protagonist though is definitely his daughter, O-Ei, who is a rather talented painter herself. Also sharing their rather messy quarters is Zenjiro, a retired samurai who’s trying to make a name for himself as a painter.
The stories range from the supernatural effects of a painting of demons that required a finishing and literally redeeming touch, to O-Ei trying to improve her own technique on eroticism by visiting a brother. Embedded here and there is the overall story of Onao, Tetsuzo’s other daughter who was born blind. She remains in close contact with her O-Ei who takes her out on walks and describes the city to her. For each episode we often get to see pieces of art from the era and how they are related to the current story.
Recommended for fans of anime’s traditional Japanese slice-of-life genre. The action is rather subdued, so don’t expect mecha or ninjas to just appear out of nowhere. It’s on a slower beat that most other movies of the festival, but that’s ok as it adds a little necessary flavor in the best artistic way possible.
That will do for now.
(Sources: Fantasia International Film Festival)