Miss Hokusai is an anime film based on a manga by Hinako Sugiura that was released in Japan in 1995, and it’s a work of historical fiction.
English Publisher: GKIDS
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: March 7, 2017
The film is set in 1814, during the Edo period of Japan, and focuses on O-Ei, the daughter of a painter named Tetsuzo Hokusai. The film, which is essentially presented as a series of short stories, shows the relationship O-Ei has with both her father and her blind half-sister, as well as showing how O-Ei progresses as a character through the situations she goes through in her life. Unfortunately, the film seems to follow the manga’s storytelling structure of vignettes rather than an overarching story, so most of the plot threads aren’t able to be as developed and fleshed out as they could be. Of the plot threads that appear in the film, the most developed is the storyline with O-Ei’s sister.
The animation did a great job of the capturing the Edo time period, as well as the various environments and seasons that are depicted in the film. You can also see the care that was taken with the character designs.
I can’t say that Miss Hokusai is a bad film, but it’s just not quite as strong as it could have been. I would only recommend this film to viewers who either have an interest in the Edo period or who are curious about the works of anime director Keiichi Hara.
The Blu-ray included in this release has 1080p High-Definition Widescreen 1.78:1 video for the film and 1080p High-Definition video for the bonus features. For the audio, it has English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for the film and English and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 for the bonus features. The DVD has Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1 for the video. For audio, it has English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 for the film and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 for the bonus features.
There are three bonus features included on the Blu-ray Disc. The first is a roughly two hour long documentary about the making of Miss Hokusai. Watching this documentary gave me a better understanding of the circumstances going on while the film was being made and how these circumstances affected the production. Director Keiichi Hara was a fan of the original manga, and he got Production I.G and the original mangaka’s family to agree to let him create the film. As we see, though, it becomes a major passion project for Hara. So much so that when it came time to work on the final section of storyboard, he felt like he had a weight coming down on him and quit coming into the studio for six months. The key animator and another staff member ultimately had to take on temporary directorial duties so the film could continue. In a lot of ways, watching this documentary, especially between the section where Hara disappeared for six months and then trying to make delivery on time kind of felt like I was watching an episode of the SHIROBAKO anime. But I did appreciate that the documentary didn’t try to gloss over Hara’s six month absence and showed what happened while he was away.
In addition to this documentary, the Blu-ray also includes GKIDS’ English trailer for Miss Hokusai, as well as trailers for other releases GKIDS was promoting at the time this Blu-ray/DVD combo was released.
The DVD includes an excerpt from The Making of Miss Hokusai documentary, and the excerpt runs for about 16 minutes. It appears that this is basically the first 16 minutes of the documentary. The DVD also includes the trailer for Miss Hokusai and the trailers for other GKIDS releases.
I would recommend this Blu-ray/DVD combo to readers who have seen and enjoyed the Miss Hokusai anime film. Even though the film also had a stand-alone DVD release, I think the Blu-ray/DVD combo is the better release due to the inclusion of the full version of The Making of Miss Hokusai documentary.
Additional post about Miss Hokusai: