Thanks to the Japan Foundation we were able to see the animated film “The case of Hana and Alice”, written and directed by Shunji Iwai, ahead of its Australian cinematic release at this year’s Japanese Film Festival.
This film is a prequel to 2004’s live action film “Hana and Alice”. The movie tells the story of an exchange student named Alice (Yu Aoi) who starts at a new school after her parents’ divorce. Much to her bad luck, she is seated at an empty desk that once belonged to a student who disappeared, or was murdered, by “Judas” and seemed to be haunting the school. Alice feels sceptical about the story and the exorcism performed by her classmate Moo and attempts to find out more.
To her surprise, Alice discovers that she has moved into with this classmate’s old house and that her neighbour Hana (Anne Susuki) used to be her classmate. Hana has been locked in her house since the “Judas murderer” and refuses to leave. She is convinced, however, that Yuda, the missing boy, is alive and has just been transferred to another school.
Alice and Hana decide to investigate the issue and create a plan to find Yuda. Nothing works out as they expect, but they create a very special friendship and make peace over the case.
The animated film features: beautiful backgrounds that overcome the rotoscoping of the film, the drawings are well done but the pace of the animation might turn you off as it seems realistic but old fashioned. However, the slice of life story, the superstitions around the students and the silliness of the main two characters in their youth will make you love the story and forget about the animation.
This film will probably bring back memories of your school days with its simple story and the honesty of their characters.
The simplicity of the film, its characters and the realistic portrayal of life in Japan are certainly the highlights of the film.
The Japanese Film Festival is currently showing “The case of Hana and Alice” on the big screen and in its original language in selected cinemas in Sydney and Melbourne.
For more information visit japanesefilmfestival.net