June 25, 2021

Fearless Fridays: O-Ei from “Miss Hokusai”

#FearlessFridays is dedicated to celebrating the individual journeys of characters from the GKIDS collection. With this series, we hope to spotlight the experiences of familiar faces from timeless classics, as well as the unsung heroes of hidden gems.

SPOILER WARNING: This post features significant plot details from Miss Hokusai.

As the bustling capital city of Edo praises Hokusai, the artist behind the iconic “Great Wave off Kanagawa,” his daughter O-Ei forges her own artistic path. Though she lives under the shadows of her father’s significant art career and fame, O-Ei is undeterred in the pursuit of her own art. O-Ei sets herself apart from her famous father by coloring her life through personal experiences and relationships to add depth to her art.

From award-winning director Keiichi Hara (Colorful) and Japanese powerhouse Production I.G (A Letter to Momo, The Deer King), Miss Hokusai confronts themes of self-discovery and identity through O-Ei’s unwillingness to conform to criticisms of her art.

The opening sequence of
Miss Hokusai perfectly illustrates O-Ei’s independent and bold demeanor. As she walks through a crowd of people, O-Ei overtakes the shot and centers herself in the forefront of the frame. We see that she is unmoved — O-Ei wants to set herself apart and define her craft according to her own terms. However, she is met with indifference from the people around her. Even so, as an anachronistic rock instrumental blares behind her, O-Ei persists as she intends to make this story her own.

While O-Ei is unwavering in carving out her own path, she is still willing to take criticism and explore areas she is unfamiliar with in order to grow. After her erotic shunga paintings are criticized as being too frigid by her father and his customers, O-Ei sets out to have a sexual experience to enhance her artistic technique. While she is largely detached from romantic relationships, as we see through her other suitors, and reserved, she chooses to engage in relations with a male sex worker for the sake of improving her role as an artist and fulfilling her sense of curiosity.

Even though she takes this venture, she does not allow for it to become a defining moment of her life. After her sexual encounter, O-Ei simply moves on. 

As a character, O-Ei is aware of her own agency, and is very much the master of her own destiny. As moments of her life unfold before her, O-Ei remains present and shows strength through it all. O-Ei, though reserved and soft-spoken, charges ahead in life with the same boldness depicted in her artwork.

Through O-Ei, we are reminded to be persistent in pursuing our dreams and taking risks. And so, today, we celebrate the fearlessness of O-Ei through her poignant depiction of what it means to be human.

Looking forward to more exciting works from Production I.G? Well, look no further! The upcoming Production I.G film, The Deer King! Keep up to date with all news surrounding the film by following the GKIDS social media accounts! 

Speaking of social media: what are some of your favorite fearless moments from Miss Hokusai? Let us know by mentioning us on social and using the hashtag #FearlessFridays!

Miss Hokusai is available now on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital.


#FearlessFridays blog posts are not a direct or definitive interpretation of films and characters within the GKIDS collection. Our aim is to share our opinions as we’ve approached these titles to further encourage viewers to explore and engage with these characters and films on their own.

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