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Movie Review: A Japanese artist gets an offbeat animated biopic in Miss Hokusai

It’s difficult at first to reckon with the jarring opening minutes of Miss Hokusai, Keiichi Hara’s anime adaptation of the Hinako Sugiura manga series. Named for the daughter of famed Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, the film starts with with O-Ei Hokusai narrating a brief scene illustrating her father’s manic creativity. She recalls how he’d dazzle his patrons with paintings the size of a wall, and then would follow that up by spending days etching onto grains of rice, just on a whim. As O-Ei finishes her anecdote, the soundtrack fills with slashing hard rock. The animator’s “camera” pulls back from her striding confidently down the street to reveal a bustling seaside metropolis, then a caption: “Edo, Summer 1814.”

The sudden eruption of electric guitar is a relative anomaly in Miss Hokusai, happening only once more. But as the film plays out, the reasons for framing …

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