Celebrated Japanese director Shunji Iwai (Love Letter, New York, I Love You) turns to animation in this lilting, piquant 2015 prequel to his 2004 live-action high school rom-com Hana and Alice, opting for rotoscoping rather than the ubiquitous anime style of wide-eyed waifs that derives from manga. The mode not only enhances his closely observed psychological portraits of two overly imaginative middle-school misfits who become best friends, it also allows for the stars of his original, Anne Suzuki and Yû Aoi, to plausibly reprise their roles. Alice (Yu), the only child of divorced parents, moves with her author mom to a remote small town where she fears terminal boredom until school bullies become allies and rope her into a mystery surrounding the rumored murder of a missing former classmate. Soon Alice’s shut-in neighbor, school dropout Hana (Suzuki), takes an active interest in the case. Chief among the many lyrical sequences are those in which Alice befriends an elderly company man; their poignant exchange on a park swing set recalls the great Takashi Shimura in Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic Ikiru. In Japanese with subtitles.