wondered how Cher and Dionne first met, before the events of Clueless (marking its 20 year
anniversary this year)? If Amy Heckerling made an animated prequel, she could
still use the voices of Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone. She would be following
the example of Shunji Iwai, who revisited the characters of his more
impressionistic indie Hana and Alice (going
on eleven years) in anime form.
Junior high is a strange place, but when the two girls join forces they just might
make some sense of it all in Iwai’s The
Case of Hana & Alice (trailer here), which screens today during the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.
to divorce and family drama, Tetsuko “Alice” Arisugawa has a new home, a new
name, and a new school. She now attends Ishinomori Middle School, but the
strange hikikomorish girl across the street does not, even though they are
roughly the same age. Of course, that would be Hana Arai.
Arisugawa faces some attempted bullying, but she puts a stop to that pretty
quick. Bizarrely, some of it comes from where she sits in class. According to
the school legend, a senior named Judas sat there the previous year, but he was
murdered by his four “wives.” It makes little sense to her. Nevertheless, her
classmates shun her desk like the Amityville Horror house. Eventually,
Arisugawa learns she is also living in the previous home of Yuda (a.k.a. Judas).
Creeped out by her proximity to so much presumed tragedy, she confronts Arai
a coming of age drama, Case has
considerably more genre elements than you would ever expect, but that is a good
thing for Fantasia audiences. The explanation behind the Judas legend is quite
clever and darned satisfying. Along the way, Iwai creates some wonderfully compassionate
moments, especially Arisugawa’s scenes with the elderly man she mistakes for
Yuda’s father. There is indeed a good deal of heart in the film.
downside is the CGI and roto-scoped animated is just okay, but it never
distracts from the elegantly mysterious narrative. Fans of the original Hana and Alice will be delighted to hear
Yu Aoi and Anne Suzuki giving voice to their beloved characters. Aoi is
particularly expressive and energizing as Arisugawa, while the introverted Arai
mostly requires husky mumbling from Suzuki.
is thoroughly enjoyable, even for viewers who
have not seen the first live action film. In terms of pacing and tone, they are
apples and oranges, but both remind you of what it was like to be a kid in
school. Great fun throughout, with a sly sense of irony, The Case of Hana and Alice is highly recommended for animation fans
and anyone who enjoys a good student drama when it screens today (7/19) as part
of this year’s Fantasia.
Labels: Animated films, Fantasia '15, Japanese Cinema, Shunji Iwai, Yu Aoi