The Case of Hana & Alice Review


One thing you cannot accuse director Shunji Iwai of is rushing out a follow-up flick to capitalize on the popularity of the original. Take the Case of Hana & Alice for example. This animated feature is a prequel to a live action movie that came out way back in 2004. Over the course of one hundred minutes it regales us with a tale, which explains how the titular pair went from being frosty neighbours to the best of friends. Man, how I wish I could be Hana. Then I would have an excuse for uttering the immortal line “I’ve been living next door to Alice… Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?”


In case you are wondering who the F-word Alice is, Tetsuko “Alice” Arisugawa happens to be a transfer student. She has relocated to a new town after her parents got divorced (fact of the day, Japan has a divorce rate of 36% whilst in the States over 50% of marriages end with a breakup.) Anyways, Alice’s first day at school doesn’t go well because she elected to sit at the cursed desk situated in the middle of her classroom. See kids, this is why all your anime heroes always choose the vacant spot next to the window. Thankfully for Alice the place where she parked her posterior doesn’t doom her to a life of misery. A fellow pupil named Mutsu cleanses Alice’s soul with an exorcism. After a rocky start Alice is welcomed to the fold and becomes a prominent member of the local track team.

Curious if the desk is genuinely jinxed or if the whole thing is just one big urban legend, Alice decides to investigate the curse’s origins. Her sleuthing uncovers that a chap named Kotaro Yuda, who was allegedly murdered by a jealous lover, used the furniture in question years ago. Wow, given the nation’s high divorce rate and how violent ex-girlfriends can be I am starting to realize that being single isn’t all that bad. Anyways, as luck would have it Alice’s neighbour Hana used to sit right behind Yuda in class. When the two meet however Hana is unable to confirm if Yuda is deceased. In order to determine the truth our young heroines concoct a plan to stalk Yuda’s father at work, hoping that observing his movements will reveal if his son still resides in the world of the living.


My rating for The Case of Hana & Alice is four stars. It’s an ideal film to watch whenever you need a pick me up. The early scenes have the serene quality found in slice of life shows and later, when things liven up, viewers are treated to moments of amusing calamity that are sure to elicit a smile. It’s neat how animation has allowed the original film’s stars to play younger versions of their characters, even if they are now thirteen years older. Alice is the better adjusted of the two and quickly acclimatizes to life in a new school. Not even bullies of the opposite gender can stand in her way. Hana is more brainy, but lacking in social skills. A prank that went awry has turned her into a recluse, although its hinted that she’s never excelled at mingling with others. For heaven’s sake, she thinks gifting a marriage licence to a guy on Valentines Day is romantic. Take it from me Hana; blokes will pick chocolate over commitment any time.

As someone who has not watched the 2004 Hana & Alice, I can’t say if the events of this prequel enrich the live action film’s content. What I can attest to however is that the movie works just fine as a standalone feature. I can highly recommend checking it out, even if the visuals may not be to everyone’s taste. Just like Flowers of Evil, rotoscope techniques were used to bring Hana & Alice to life. Many critics have complained that anime made from tracing live action footage doesn’t looks right, but to be honest I didn’t have any problems with the film’s aesthetics. Given the choice, I’d pick a rotoscope anime over one featuring crude CG any day. A rotoscope Alice dancing ballet is far more artistic than the abominations you can witness in the new Berserk or the PS2 level graphics found in Appleseed XIII.

9 thoughts on “The Case of Hana & Alice Review

    • This movie could have easily been a live action action film with child actors. It’s nice that they opted to make a cartoon instead so the old cast could reprise their roles.

      Good point about chocolate. Everyone loves cacao based treats, which explains why people were losing their minds online about the recent Cadbury Freddo price hike and how Tobelorone bars are now smaller.

  1. “For heaven’s sake, she thinks gifting a marriage licence to a guy on Valentines Day is romantic.”

    That escalated quickly. I’d love to know where she got her idea of romance from.

    • Indeed. I have dated some needy girls in my time, but none of them have ever asked me to make make a legal commitment on the first date. The live action Hana & Alice apparently revolves around a love triangle, so I wonder if Hana’s quirky thoughts on romance becomes a factor in that story.

  2. Pingback: Lita’s Blogger Feature Friday + Post A Rama #16 – LitaKinoAnimeCorner

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