A turbulent time with even more uncertainty for one young modern woman.
What They Say:
During the Taisho era of 1918, 17-year-old Benio Hanamura thrives on bucking tradition. A boisterous and stubborn tomboy, Miss Hanamura is a quintessential Miss Modern. She shirks her “lady-like” activities to practice kendo and climb trees. Gasp! She vows to find love on her own terms but her family has other plans. With war raging in the background, Benio finds herself fighting her own battles; sometimes with a kendo sword, sometimes with an umbrella, but always in her way.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese theatrical mix in its 5.1 format as well as a stereo format while the English language dub gets the 5.1 treatment, both of which are done in the uncompressed PCM form. The film is a pretty dialogue-driven piece for the most part but it has a wider and more expansive field owing to its theatrical design so placement is a bit more distinct and movement across the soundstage feels like it works better. These areas are pretty straightforward with what it does as it goes from quiet to loud depending on what the characters are up to. The bigger areas, such as the action toward the end or the bits of swordplay and other moments earlier, are well-placed and there’s a good distinctive aspect to it, especially with the bass during the fights. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally in theaters in 2017, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Nippon Animation, the project has a really great look as it captures the Taisho era very well with lots of distinctive backgrounds and a lived-in feeling for much of it. The character animation goes a bit brighter for the most part, especially with our leading character, and there’s a good look to it by being vivid at times without oversaturation. The details in the designs are solid and hold up without a problem while the character animation has a lot of really nice moments of fluidity as it unfolds. It’s a very clean looking encoding working from some great materials and the end result is a pretty much pristine looking release.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case where the front cover operates using the main key visual for the season. This brings us a look at the various characters that are primary and important on the supporting side set against a simple white background with a few light cherry blossoms falling across it. The framing is nice to give it a feminine touch with the detail and it all ties together well with the logo along the lower right where it doesn’t dominate. The back cover uses much the same layout but provides for more character material from the key visual side along the left while the right has a good summary of the premise and some very small shots from the film to show off. The technical grid goes for a slim approach here but conveys the main details but in too small of a font for my taste considering the amount of open real estate it can work with. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is quite nice as sometimes the small elements can really make it. This menu goes for clips playing throughout it and it takes up the entire screen but it’s working with a theatrical project so there’s lots of detail and good color quality to really draw you into it as it moves between characters. The navigation strip along the bottom is done in a bright pink with white text and the right end has a bunch of roses with some green leaves to it while the left has the same, but larger and with the logo block overlaying it for the film. It gives it some nice weight and it feels like it helps to frame the whole thing really well. There’s little here beyond the film and a trailer so it’s just setup and scene access, which is quick and easy to use and problem free both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during regular playback.
There are no extras with this release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Waki Yamato, Haikara-san is a two-part film whose first part is here as Eleven Arts brought it out on theaters and worked with Nozomi Entertainment to bring it out on home video. The original manga ran for eight volumes in the 1970’s and it saw a forty-two episode TV anime series back then. It also spawned three live-action TV Films in the 70’s and 80’s and came back for one more in 2002. With as much interest as there was it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see it come back for a two-part anime feature film whose first film had Kazuhiro Furuhashi writing and directing it at Nippon Animation. It got a brief theatrical run here that was definitely welcome but I was really keen to finally see it here on home video.
This film is one that follows some familiar paths when it comes to projects taking place in the Taisho era, this one during 1918 and 1919. Here, we’re introduced to a Japan that has modernized in the big city with a lot of Western elements to it from clothes to buildings in terms of style. Benio, at seventeen-years-old, has grown up with this modern approach and fancies herself a modern girl. She’s confident in herself, less interested in the old ways that keep women down in their position, and is looking to have a good life on her terms. Her life does take a curious twist when out with her childhood male friend Ranmaru she ends up falling out of a tree getting a kite and into the hands of Shinobu, an army lieutenant who was coming by on his horse. This small moment is what draws them together but isn’t one exactly based on fate. Her father had arranged this previously, which certainly isn’t modern but she has little real recourse at the moment.
That places her in his household where there’s some wealth and money but also a whole lot of tradition. While we do see the expected romance slowly come to life between Benio and Shinobu, the fun for me was in watching how she shook up the household and started to bring a little more modernity to it. It’s not easy since there’s an older contingent to it that are set in their ways and find them to work well, but when you have honor-bound moments that include killing others and yourself you know Benio is going to resist against it. The one complicated element I didn’t care much for was that Ranmaru, upon learning all of this, confesses his own love to her and ends up quietly seeking employment as a maid there. Since he grew up playing female roles in the kabuki theater he falls into that look and style easily enough but it’s something where it just feels uncertain as to how well accepted it would have been.
The film does a really good job of presenting us the situation with how Benio handles it, the struggles and joys that comes with it, and the slow romance that forms are she becomes more and more drawn to Shinobu. It’s not all easy living and smiles as there’s a war going on in China where Shinobu is eventually sent and that creates its own uncertainty for a while as he’s gone. The passage of time is definitely an area where I enjoyed the film in seeing a greater confidence out of Benio as she immerses herself into the world that’s just as modern as she is and seeing how she embraces it completely. That adds some new characters but since the film didn’t heavily invest to begin with in a large cast the additions feel welcome and helps to separate the to lives that she leads.
Haikara-San Here Comes Miss Modern is certainly a familiar tale that we’ve seen when it comes to the Taisho era and that’s not a complaint in the slightest. Seeing different characters and how they interact with such situations (and plenty of alternate world takes on the era) makes for an enjoyable experience. Benio and Shinobu are an interesting couple that doesn’t get as much time together as I would like but there are a lot of neat moments between the two as she settles into the household and they both lead their lives based on the demands of the moment as it goes forward. This release looks great as it has a fantastic encoding of great materials and it includes a solid dub that some fans got to enjoy in the theater that’s worth exploring here if you missed it. Definitely great to have this and to get the anticipation set for the second half.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, Japanese 5.1 PCM Language, English 5.1 PCM Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Eleven Arts
Release Date: December 4th, 2018
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.