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fumitan

I stopped by the Veef Show to discuss the latest Mobile Suit Gundam series, Iron-Blooded Orphans. Have a listen, as we have fairly different perspectives on the show, and I’d love to know what you think of the series as well.

For reference, the post I mentioned about McGillis can be found here, and the series I mention at the end of the podcast that I have begun chapter reviewing is here.

So in conclusion, Fumitan Admoss is the best.

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What was originally supposed to be a review of the second Digimon Adventure tri. movie has now taken on a different context with the passing of Digimon singer Wada Kouji at the age of 42 after a long battle with cancer. While his voice was absent in the English dub of Digimon, many fans around the world came to know his distinct, powerful voice across multiple works, and in many ways his songs have defined and encapsulated the swirl of emotions and memories that Digimon brings. In listening to Wada’s tri. renditions of “Butter-fly” and now “Seven,” the softness in his voice comes across not simply as the melancholy of growing up, but also Wada’s last push to make his voice heard, similar to Freddie Mercury in “These Are the Days of Our Lives” before succumbing to AIDS.

Although Wada’s unfortunate passing does not any direct impact on the story of Digimon Adventure tri. 2: Determination, it does cast an interesting light given the primary focus of the second film. What do we as people do with our lives? What does it mean to be an adult? How do we handle the challenges that life throws at us? How can we continue to be the Biggest Dreamer?

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Determination, like Reunion, places great emphasis on character exploration, with greater attention on how difficult it can be to both aim for and avoid conformity as we get older. In particular, the film puts the spotlight on worrywart Kido Joe and Tachikawa Mimi. Just like in the last film, Joe has been actively ignoring the call of the Digimon because he’s more concerned with trying to get into a good college. Mimi has to deal with the fact that her aggressive attitude and individuality (implied to be a product of both her personality and her time spent in the US) rubs her classmates the wrong way.

Though overall decent, I find this second film to be weaker than the first one, mostly because the pacing feels stiff and that not quite enough was done to explore Joe and Mimi’s conflicts. The comedy, including seeing Gomamon cook instant ramen for Joe, and even the bath house hijinks (including a brief steamy moment between Takeru and Hikari) are all wecome and keep the film just light-hearted enough, but the story’s progression still feels quite uneven. However, one potential point against the film, namely that it focuses on boring ol’ Joe, is something I see as a point of contention. I think that Joe’s story is something that can be hard for some to relate to while others will connect more immediately to his plight, and that the extent to which Determination resonates with viewers can therefore vary tremendously.

Given that Joe’s choices are between studying for college entrance exams or helping to save the world the choice should be “obvious,” but it’s clear that Joe is trying his hardest to become a responsible adult. After all, he’s supposed to be the responsible one, and the fact that this pressure seems to come not so much from his parents but from society as a whole and his own expectations for doing what’s best makes his inability to improve his test scores despite all of the work he’s put into it feel that much more devastating. Joe is essentially struggling between doing the right thing and doing the right thing, and the fact that he cares so much about both is what makes it a conflict in the first place.

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By comparison, I think Mimi’s troubles are easier to understand, but both her and Joe have to confront what it means to live and exist among others, when one is increasingly expected to fall into line. Mimi also pushes through her problems with greater determination than Joe, but that also comes down to their differences in personality. That’s not to say Mimi doesn’t struggle in this film herself, or that her concerns are any less important or difficult to deal with, but if there’s one thing Mimi doesn’t lack, it’s confidence.

I think what made Digimon and Wada Kouji such powerful presences in many children’s lives is the sense of discovery and (of course) adventure that they conveyed. Determination plays with these feelings, asking whether or not they should be left in the past or should be carried into the future even as we become adults. It’s a simple yet profound fight that many must go through, and I’m confident that the next film will deliver hope to all those who believe their childhoods have long since disappeared beyond memory.

You can watch Digimon Adventure tri. on Crunchyroll.

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In the past, I’ve written about “OEL manga,” English-language comics inspired by the manga style, in an attempt to find out why OEL manga often end up looking not quite like what typically comes out of Japan. I’ve brought up ideas such as screentone usage and how it often looks like artists try to draw “anime” comics instead of “manga” comics. It’s not a bad feature, and there are plenty of good comics that are inspired by manga without looking like it, but it’s just fun to try and figure out why things don’t look “right,” so to speak.

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Recently, however, I’ve come across a manga called Shoujo Fight by Nihonbashi Yoko, and even though it’s drawn by a Japanese person for a Japanese audience, to me it looks very similar to OEL manga. It’s to the extent that, if you had given me a page from Shoujo Fight translated and told me someone from Kansas drew it, I might very well have believed you.

Shoujo Fight is a volleyball manga published in the magazine Evening (sister to Genshiken‘s Monthly Afternoon and the popular Weekly Morning). Its story follows a girl named Ooishi Neri, who holds back a fiery passion for volleyball due to a traumatic event in her past. Beginning from 2012 it ran for 12 volumes, and it’s overall just a solid sports manga with a large variety of interesting female characters with equally diverse body types.

Now, I want to emphasize that, when I compare it to OEL manga that I do not mean that as an insult, and in fact I really enjoy Shoujo Fight‘s art style. Nevertheless, it does leave me wondering… why does Shoujo Fight look to me like OEL manga? I think there are a number of interrelated reasons.

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First, the creator, Nihonbashi Yoko, has a very design-oriented and graphic style that’s conducive to posters, symbols, and logos. When looking at her official blog, there’s a lot of work along those lines, and I think she’s very good at it.

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Second, Shoujo Fight is clearly drawn digitally, and I think (whether it’s accurate or not) that I associate “western” renditions of anime and manga with the rise of tablets and digital comics in general. The line work is very smooth and sleek, completely devoid of pen or pencil textures, and I find that a lot of Deviantart artists tend to work similarly.

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Third, the way Nihonbashi draws eyes often times feels closer to what I’d find in a North American or European comic. In fact, to me the way that the heroine Neri’s eyes are drawn reminds me strongly of the girls from the Italian comic (turned French animation) W.I.T.C.H. or even those of a Disney heroine. I think this becomes especially noticeable when a character has her eyes closed part-way, because the particular shape of the eyes and eyelids are not so common in manga.

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With Shoujo Fight and its art style is compared to the typical manga, it’s fascinating to me how the idea of “manga” continues to be challenged from both within its primary industry and from the outside. And if you want to see more of her work, follow the creator of Shoujo Fight on Twitter.

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Censorship is a difficult subject to explore because the battle over it is rife with conflicting and contradictory values. On the one hand, it usually derives from good intentions, specifically the desire to avoid exposing people to that which is deemed morally inappropriate. On the other hand, it can be a tool for control, especially when the standard for what is morally right is itself flawed through biases such as racism and misogyny. To create a work of fiction around the idea of censorship is to potentially step into a minefield.

Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist is an anime adapted from a light novel. Its premise is that Japan has outlawed dirty words, dirty thoughts, and of course dirty pictures in order to improve public moral health. High schooler Okuma Tanukichi is the son of an infamous “dirty-joke terrorist” who resents his father and seeks to reunite with his childhood love, Nishikonimya Anna, a symbol of purity and righteousness. However, he ends up getting roped into joining a dirty-joke terrorist organization known as SOX (substitute the O), led by a girl clad in only a cape and a pair of underwear on her hand who goes by the name “Blue Snow.”

Though a comedy, I don’t find the series to be that funny. Then again, it would have been foolish of me to expect extremely clever jokes from a series premised around trying to restore people’s ability to shout, “PENIS!” Rather, what ended up interesting me was how it tackles censorship, and how I can’t find myself in total agreement with its ideas on the matter.

The world of Shimoneta, or more specifically the elite school in which most of its story takes place, is an environment where people are so sheltered from profanity, pornography, and obscenity that they cannot even recognize it when it is literally thrown in their face. Aside from a few eccentrics who are either extremely good at hiding their feelings or have their interests tied up in other things (one character’s interest in sex is mostly from a scientific point of view), they are mentally unable to process their own sexual desires. From here, I believe it is easy to see why a series like Shimoneta can be simultaneously uncomfortable yet thought-provoking even if one potentially disagrees with it. The idea that the removal of dirty jokes from a country has rendered its men and women psychologically immature could be utilized as both an argument against “political correctness” and an argument against oppression of people’s rights to be sexually active. After all, women are attacked both for having sex and not having sex.

Where Shimoneta stands on the subject feels somewhat unclear even after finishing the series, and this has a lot to do with the fact that the series is rife with anime and light novel tropes. Anna, for example, turns out to be a stereotypical yandere character whose burning desire for Tanukichi (she can literally smell his scent from hundreds of meters away) swings his view of her from aspiration to monster, while her large rack and hourglass figure clearly make her a sexually attractive character. At the same time, Anna is the very symbol of how a lack of sex education can negatively affect a person. Because she has been taught that righteousness is the polar opposite of profanity, she believes that anything she does in the name of righteousness is by definition pure, even if it involves pinning Tanukichi to the ground and trying to take his virginity against his will in highly sexually charged scenes.

What is Anna? Is her behavior more representative of a warning towards keeping people ignorant about sex, or is she a nymphomaniac designed to thrill the audience? For that matter, what is the ethical standing of a little girl character clearly designed for a lolicon audience, whose hair is shaped like a penis? Is it an innocent joke, or has it gone too far? And in this way, is Shimoneta directly commenting on actual society (assuming Japan but perhaps it can apply elsewhere)?

I feel that the ambiguity of that last question is what makes Shimoneta worth watching, at least for a few episodes. It opens up a potentially interesting conversation about how we view media, and even in disagreement I believe it can be a fruitful discussion.

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Parasyte, the story of a boy whose right hand is taken over by an alien parasite, was a popular 90s manga in Japan. Recently it’s gotten an anime adaptation with an updated look, so naturally Parasyte has been receiving more attention. What I hadn’t expected to see, however, was a Parasyte one-shot spinoff by shoujo manga legend Hagio Moto.

Hagio Moto is famous for being the mother of BL manga as the creator of Heart of Thomas. She’s continued to create manga since her debut in the 1970s, including science fiction, such as Star Red and A, A’, and even comics that act as allegories to the dangers of nuclear power. She generally stays within the realms of shoujo and josei, so the fact that she’s brought her talents to Monthly Afternoon (where Parasyte was originally published) is something special.

Yura no Mon o follows Yura, the young daughter of Tamura Reiko, who is the parasite disguised as the original hero Izumi Shin’ichi’s school teacher. Reiko decides to have a human baby with a fellow parasite, and her relationship with her daughter throughout the original series is portrayed as disturbing yet potentially redemptive. Yura is adopted by another family by the time of Hagio’s one-shot, but she every so often here’s a voice that tells her one thing: kill. Thinking it’s the voice of her mother, she goes through life with that whisper in the back of her head.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Parasyte, but that’s because it succumbs to many 90s manga tropes (particularly its portrayal of women). With Yura no Mon o, Hagio Moto brings the sensibility and soft style that made her one of shoujo manga’s most famous artists. If you have the chance, and you have even a passing familiarity with Parasyte, it’s worth checking out.

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Of all the fujoshi-themed manga I’ve encountered (and I’ve read a lot), Okachimachi Hato’s Fujoshissu! is one of my absolute favorites. So, having recently found out that Okachimachi is starting up a new manga, I was immediately thrilled. While my search for fujoshi protagonists is why I first discovered her work, it’s Okachimachi’s expressive art style and subtle, considerate explorations of her characters that turned me into a fan.

Her new work, Kimi xxxru Koto Nakare (“You Shall Not xxx”) shows signs of being just as strong from the very first chapter, which is why I’ve decided to start writing monthly chapter reviews for it. This is only the third time I’ve ever done the “episodic review” thing (both previous instances were Genshiken anime and manga), so I hope you enjoy it.

Kimi xxxru Koto Nakare is the story of a budding teenage romance between Shuuto, a male idol, and Nobuko, a female celebrity comedian. When the manga begins, we see that Shuuto first discovers Nobuko at a very young age while watching television. Nobuko is the daughter of a famous comedian as well, and to Shuuto, it’s love at first sight. He thinks she’s the cutest girl ever, and it inspires him to get into the entertainment industry as a child model.

Years later, the two are now classmates, and while Shuuto is adored by legions of female fans for his handsome appearance and cool demeanor, his real aspiration is comedy. Shuuto asks Nobuko for help, and after some important lessons (namely that Shuuto can’t be serious about comedy if he’s afraid of being laughed at), Shuuto finally succeeds in getting some laughs. Grateful to Nobuko, Shuuto finally confesses his feelings to her and even gives her a kiss, but while Nobuko is shown to secretly feel the same way as Shuuto, she backs away and tells him that he can’t do that.

There is so much to talk about in this first chapter, but I think what stands out most is Nobuko’s appearance. While Tonari no Young Jump, the website on which Kimi Nakare is published, can ostensibly be called “shounen” or “seinen,” it’s clear that Okachimachi comes from a very different background in terms of art style and approach to manga. Kimi Nakare is very much in a shoujo vein, but very rarely do shoujo manga feature a main female character as plain-looking as Nobuko. Generally speaking, they tend to be not the most beautiful but still thin and pretty in a conventional sense. In contrast, Nobuko is larger, has a rather masculine face with big bushy eyebrows, and is just noticeably less attractive than Shuuto.

Even the story draws attention to the fact that Nobuko is not supposed to be good-looking. When a young Shuuto is telling his parents that Nobuko is the cutest girl he’s ever seen, they react with puzzlement. “Cute? I would call her interesting…but cute?” Shuuto “shouldn’t” be attracted to her to such an extent, but he is.

What’s amazing about this contrast is that it doesn’t feel simply like wish fulfillment that a handsome idol like Shuuto would fall in love with Nobuko. Putting aside his love of comedy and the fact that she’s mentioned as being incredibly talented at getting laughs, Nobuko is strong, supportive, cheerful, and isn’t afraid to take someone down a peg. As the chapter progresses, it becomes evident that these qualities are what continuously draws Shuuto to her. Okachimachi never draws Nobuko in a way implied to be Shuuto’s “perspective” with the requisite that she then appears to be more beautiful than she is, but by just seeing them together, I could understand just how attractive Nobuko’s personality could be.

Suffice it to say, I already love this manga. I believe that Nobuko’s negative reaction to Shuuto’s kiss and confession comes from the fact that he’s an idol and therefore isn’t allowed to date. Whether that means they have a clandestine romance or they have to constantly resist their own feelings, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Between showers, fools, and lambs, April is a month of change and transition. It’s only appropriate then that I try to evolve as well! As always, it’s with the help of my friends and Patreon supporters that I continue to try and improve Ogiue Maniax:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sasahara Keiko fans:

Kristopher Hostead

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

So, the first change I’m making is a small adjustment to my schedule. Since 2010 I’ve generally structured my weekly posting schedule to be posts on Tuesday and Friday with at least the occasional lighter post on Sunday, most typically a Fujoshi File entry. However, I’ve noticed that most of my readers come in on Sunday, and to give my lowest-impact content at that point feels like a shame, because if you’re coming to Ogiue Maniax I believe it’s to read something interesting. Because of this, I’ve decided to switch Sunday to being a main posting day, with either Tuesday or Friday being less heavy. I’m still on the fence on which one to use, but most likely it’ll be Friday. I hope you enjoy the change, and of course, if you miss the post it’s always there in the archives.

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A second possible change is adding another series other than Genshiken for me to review regularly. The title is Kimi xxxru Koto Nakare (“You Can’t Do That”), the new monthly manga by Okachimachi Hato (creator of one of my favorite manga, Fujoshissu!) about a high school romance between a male idol and a female celebrity comedian. The question is, how should I cover it? To help me with this, I’m using a handy dandy poll:

Keep in mind that this is just for feedback and the winning answer won’t necessarily determine what happens. Also, I mistakenly thought it was a weekly manga, so a previous Patreon post of mine mistakenly had weekly options.

As for what’s happened on the blog over the past month, the biggest event for Ogiue Manaix and all current Genshiken readers definitely has to be the latest manga chapter, which concludes the Madarame harem story. I won’t say much more, so go check it out if you’re curious as to what goes down and my thoughts on it. Also, I need to point out that a funky translation of Chapter 122’s contents has been going around, and it provides an inaccurate image of the characters. In response to this, I’ve also translated a couple of small but vital excerpts from the chapter in the hopes of clearing up the confusion.

As mentioned last month, I went to see a whole bunch of animated films. These include The Boy and the Beast, The Case of Hana & Alice, Beyond Beyond, Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu, Psycho-Pass: The Movie, and Long Way North. This means it was a pretty danged review-heavy month, especially because I also covered Please Tell Me! Galko-chan, the mahjong manga Saki, and the ever-successful Aikatsu! I’m typically more of an analysis and deep thinking kind of writer, but it’s not bad to have months like this either, and most of the time I my reviews are more half-review/half-analysis anyway.

Speaking of reviews, I also finally updated the Reviews section of the blog. I neglected it for about…a year and a half? orz

I also talked last month about my concern over stagnating as a writer. My smart and ever-perceptive friend David Brothers gave me some advice in response to one of my Apartment 507 articles on Yandere characters, which is that I should think about putting more of myself into my writing. I think that ever since I’d gone in a more academic direction it’s improved Ogiue Maniax in a number of ways. At the same time, that sort of more casual and personal feel, while still present I believe, might not be as apparent. Sometimes I have to be more friend than teacher.

Three final comments:

  1. Shout outs to Abadango for winning Pound 2016 using 99% Mewtwo (with a dash of Meta Knight). It’s the first major tournament in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U that has been won by a Mewtwo.
  2. Some cool and mysterious fellow recently published an academic article about the science fiction manga 7 Billion Needles in the journal Japan Forum. If you’ve got access and that’s your sort of thing, maybe check it out?
  3. This past weekend was the final Love Live! concert for the original μ’s girls. Love Live! forever! Hanayo banzai! Also, sorry about the April Fool’s joke (not sorry).

galko-bustyboobyBased on the design of its central character, Please Tell Me! Galko-chan likely draws initial attention for two reasons. While I’m not denying the popularity of Galko herself, I do think the anime has an appeal that goes beyond eye candy or the potential thrill of hearing girls talk candidly about personal topics.

Please Tell Me! Galko-chan typically revolves around the conversations between three characters: Galko (a trendy “gyaru” whose appearance can be deceiving), Otako (an otaku girl who prefers to avoid social interaction but is still Galko’s best friend), and Ojou (a rich girl whose experiences differ greatly from the rest). Each short 7-minute episode they talk about things like how eating spicy foods makes your butthole hurt or the difficulties of buying bras when your breasts are too large, usually instigated by Otako who loves to tease the easily embarrassed Galko. Even if she doesn’t get embarrassed about something, a whole group of boys fawning over her will easily let their imaginations go wild.

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It is most definitely a fanservice anime, but I feel that the show is carried as much by its characters’ personalities as it is by their appearances (and even then it’s really only Galko-chan). When people mistakenly suspect a tired Galko of being out with men (she actually just stayed up all night watching anime), or when it turns out she’s into literature, the appeal isn’t simply that there’s a “mismatch” between her inside and outside. Rather, her character feels quite full-formed despite each episode being so short. The same goes for the others as well, such as how the overweight Nikuko is shown to not only be extremely athletic, but also brimming with confidence. In this respect, Otako is actually my favorite because of how her desire to tease Galko is shown to also bring Otako out from her own shell, creating a beautiful (if weird) friendship. Also, Otako kind of has an Ogiue vibe.

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I think what maybe says it all is that, as I watched the show, I looked forward just as much to seeing how the guys react to Galko’s conversations just as much as witnessing Galko’s hijinks. They’re at that age where even one hint at something sexual will cause their hearts to race, and their confusing of Galko’s general warmth and friendliness with the idea that she definitely likes each of them feels just as much a part of youth as all of the stuff on the girls’ side. While I don’t know anyone who’s ever kneaded dough to try and replicate the feel of a boob (this really happens in the show), I don’t think it’s that farfetched given how cultures, inside or outside of Japan, mysticize the idea of being with someone to the point that even approximations gain a kind of value all their own.

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This film is part of the 2016 New York International Children’s Film Festival

One person’s dreamer is another’s fool. The quest to achieve the seemingly impossible frequently rubs up against the harsh reality and possibility of failure, and what results can end up inspiring some and serving as a grave warning to others. Long Way North, a French-Danish animated film directed by Rémi Chayé, follows a young Russian girl named Sasha who holds onto her missing (and presumed dead) grandfather’s dream to reach the North Pole, in spite of her parents’ desire for her to act like a proper young girl of nobility.

The term “family film” can be a kind of backhanded compliment, implying that it’s something almost innocuous in its presentation. However, Long Way North deserves the term in the best sense possible because of how well it speaks to the aspirations and concerns of both parents and children. Sasha is a heroine who won’t let go of the spirit of adventure instilled in her by her grandfather who also puts in the hard work to fulfill those desires. In doing so, and it continuously realizing her limitations while working to overcome them, Sasha’s journey feels empowering and encouraging. Her parents, who are more concerned with whether Sasha will throw away her “childish” views, can come across as overbearing or failing to understand what gives Sasha life. However, the film also presents her parents as wanting only the best for their children and families, which is a message that resonates with older audiences, and provides an opportunity for parents and children alike to discuss the conflict of dreams and reality.

Nothing works out easily in Long Way North, from treacherous voyages through arctic waters to stubborn personalities to people going nearly insane from the prospect of starvation, but Sasha and by extension the film never give up hope.

There’s no limit to how much can be said about the visual presentation of this film. With appealing character designs built off of flat swathes of color mixed with an intentionally rough, textural line work, it reminds me somewhat of a George Seurat painting. The art style works especially well when depicting the arctic north because of the large, imposing glaciers on all sides.

The animation, even when it takes shortcuts, never feels cheap, and always conveys scale, depth, and the powerful emotions of its characters. From the imposing yet warm figure of Sasha’s grandfather to the stern, yet honorable ship captain to Sasha’s expressive eyes, Long Way North makes its characters feel all too human all to relatable no matter who they are.

Long Way North is an inspiring tale for children and adults alike. It might also be the best film I saw at the New York International Children’s Film Festival. Long Way North is getting a wider release soon, and I recommend that you check it out and see if it doesn’t help you consider how you view your own dreams.

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This film is part of the 2016 New York International Children’s Film Festival

The Case of Hana & Alice (Hana to Arisu no Satsujin Jiken, or “The Murder Case of Hana & Alice” in Japanese) is an animated film that portrays the developing friendship between two girls in middle school who share a mutual desire to get to the bottom of a rumor about a murder. Arisugawa “Alice” Tetsuko is a tomboy and transfer student who seems to be in the middle of a bizarre and confusing case of bullying. Arai Hana is a hikikomori who hasn’t attended school in over a year and loves to put together elaborate plans. Together, their contrasting personalities are a recipe for disaster but in the most delightful ways possible.

Directed by Iwai Shunji, The Case of Hana & Alice is not a mystery in the traditional sense, and spends most of its time building up its characters and the path they take to solidifying their friendship. In a way, Hana and Alice have a vibe akin to the characterization aspects of th BBC Sherlock series, though in a much more lighthearted environment, and with certain qualities mixed between this film’s “Sherlock” and “Watson.” Whether it’s portraying Alice’s personality as a girl who doesn’t take nonsense from anyone, Hana’s agony as her best-laid strategies dissolve into nothing due to Alice’s act-before-you-think attitude, or even the random people they meet due to misunderstandings, the characters become increasingly endearing to the point that it almost doesn’t even matter how it all ends because there’s the sense and expectation that their combined forces have to lead to something amazing. The film’s pace is like a slowly paced progression of events that can actually feel intense and frenetic through the actions of its characters, which in turn creates a strange yet pleasant feeling of suspense that is both connected to and separate from the mystery at hand.

One of the more prominent and noticeable aspects of The Case of Hana and Alice is its style of animation, which mixes heavy rotoscoping and CG and thus gives the film an aesthetic uncommon to most Japanese animation. However, the consistency between the two elements is surprisingly good, without the jarring sense one gets when switching between animation styles. Although there are clear moments where one is being used over the other, the two sides blend together well. Thus, while something like the Flowers of Evil has a controversial reputation due to its rotoscoping (people either love it or hate it), I wouldn’t say the same qualities are as present in The Case of Hana and Alice even though similar techniques are utilized.

Prior to the start of the movie, the audience was told that the film is actually a prequel to a live action move titled simply Hana & Alice (which was itself based on Kit Kat commercials???), with the note that it uses the same actresses, Suzuki Anne and Aoi Yuu. While watching, I suspected that one of the reasons they decided to go with animation was because The Case of Hana and Alice is a prequel that takes place in middle school as opposed to the live action film’s high school setting, so a live action performance would somehow have to make them younger to fit in. What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that the first Hana and Alice was from 2004, which would make the act of portraying them convincingly as 14-year-olds even more difficult.

Because of this, I actually believe that rotoscoping was the right choice as a way to maintain the specific relationship between its titular characters that (I assume) is present in the 2004 film. While one might argue that just using traditional animation or 3DCG would have sufficed, I believe they really wanted not only Hana and Alice’s voices from Anne and Yuu, but also their mannerisms and overall physical presence.

Because the New York International Children’s Film Festival is dedicated to, well, children’s film, I always enjoy looking at what’s featured and then considering what it means to make a “movie for children.” The obvious answer is that it’s what you get when you create a film with children as the target audience, but that leads to other questions. What are the sorts of elements that resonate with children? What does it mean for a story to be “too adult?” To what extent should a children’s work take into account the adult audience who might likely be watching with their kids? I find that The Case of Hana and balances all of these questions, presenting an atmosphere and narrative that seems to embody both a sense of nostalgia and a sense of discovery, as if viewing the characters’ lives from both the past and the future.

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