I vividly remember watching “The Case of Hana & Alice” for the Fantasia Film Festival in 2015, and it was a movie that managed to stick with me for a while. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but like a lot of its ilk, it’s a movie you have to go in with some knowledge acquired. “The Cast of Hana & Alice” is primarily a prequel, and a loose one at that, but it’s at least charming in its way, and allows a mystery to become the catalyst for an adventure with two best friends one fateful day.
Alice, a transfer student to Ishinomori Middle School, hears a strange rumour that one year ago, “Judas was killed by four other Judas” in Class 1. While investigating, Alice discovers that the only person who may know the truth, Alice’s classmate Hana, lives next door to her in the “Flower House” that everyone is scared of. Eager to know more about the “Judas” murder, Alice sneaks into the Flower House to ask the reclusive Hana for more information about the Judas murder and why she’s a recluse. The chance meeting of Hana and Alice sets them off on an adventure to solve the mystery of the “smallest murder in the world.”
Shunji Iwai’s animated drama is an interesting real time tale of two girls that set out on an adventure. Although the movie itself is pegged as a mystery, it’s really more about learning about judging people, and way we whip our imaginations in to frenzies when we’re kids. Although based mostly around a narrative without much momentum, “The Case of Hana & Alice” thrives on simplicity, allowing for us to know these girls, and watch them embark on what seems like an interesting adventure. It’s a teen coming of age drama down to its core, with some great interplay between the characters.
“The Case of Hana & Alice” is apparently a prequel to 2004’s “Hana & Alice,” and while you don’t have to have immense knowledge of the original film, I think it might help pad out some core themes and the relationship with the titular sleuths. That said, “The Cast of Hana & Alice” is a breezy, charming, very well animated (I never tire of rotoscoping) genre entry that just might help win over some new followers.
The release from Shout!/GKIDS includes a thirty minutes interview with actresses Yu Aoi and Anne Suzuki, who are joined by the director of “The Case of Hana & Alice,” Shunji Iwai. They discuss preparation, changes encountered over the last decade since the release of the original movie, the switch to animation and all the challenges ballet experience, and the personal meaning of the 2004 live action film. There’s the twelve minutes Film Completion Press Conference which returns to Iwai, Suzuki, and Aoi, all of whom cover the basics of “The Case of Hana & Alice” in front of a premiere audience.
There’s the twelve minutes Film Premiere Stage Greeting, which brings out Iwai, Suzuki, and Aoi again to discuss the making of “The Case of Hana & Alice.” There’s a thirty seven minutes sit down interview with Iwai, who examines the process of animation and the journey of his material over a decade between pictures. There’s talk of rotoscoping, favorite scenes, and his work as a director, and Iwai also discusses the differences between live-action and animation. There’s the twenty six minutes “Message from Makoto Shinkai” which is actually an interview with the animator, who details the creative process, influences, his work with Iwai, and character design. Finally, there’s the original Japanese T.V. Spot for “The Case of Hana & Alice,” the US Trailer, another Japanese Trailer, and the Japanese Teaser.