In This Corner of the World
It’s been a great past year for fans of Anime movies, with ‘Your Name’ taking the world by storm and being followed up by the equally impressive ‘A Silent Voice’ not long after. Thrown into the mix was new installments in the Yu-Gi-Oh, Fairy Tail and Sword Art Online franchises (Although sadly neither One Piece Film Gold nor Girls und Panzer der Film has graced our screens yet, for shame on you distributors. SHAME!) and so following in tradition myself and friends went to see ‘In This Corner Of The World.’ and had a really nice time.
Produced by MAPPA (Hajime No Ippo, Terror in Resonance, Yuri on Ice) written by Sunao Katabuchi (Mai Mai Miracle) and featuring character designs by Hidenori Matsubara (Sakura Wars, Princess And The Pilot, Oh My Goddess!) the film follows a young woman named Suzu’s life from the early 1930s to 1940s and beyond.We start in a small town called Eba, part of Hiroshima City and are introduced to Suku; a girl who loves to paint. In 1944 she is proposed to by a young man who lives in Kure City, a large naval port around 15 miles away. She accepts the proposal and adjusts to her new life with her new family.
Given the time period you the viewer are already aware of key events taking place around Suzu and have an advantageous outlook on the world she lives in, however the film never becomes dull or boring, around two-thirds of the film is Suzu trying to settle into her life with a comedy of day to day life from Rationing with elderly townsfolk and attempting (and usually failing) to cook meals or sew new clothes for herself. The real power in the film is that Suzu is not a character of power or intellect and instead the film convinces you that, while fictional this is an actual ordinary person, trying to live an ordinary life in a corner of the world gripped with war and loss.
After around the halfway point is when the film ramps things up as the war starts to take its toll on Suzu and the world around her as everything is torn apart including important people to her and an important part of her, she eventually begins to suffer from depression and starts planning to return home when the horrific Hiroshima bombing takes place. With the war ending Suzu eventually, loses any will to live as almost everything has been taken from her, however, what’s left of her family eventually gives her the motivation to push forwards.
The film was great from start to finish and was an exceptional piece of artwork the entire time, the use of paints and colour to represent the world around Suzu was incredible and the film often took the time to look at the little things, sometimes completely changing art style when the occasion rose, it didn’t cut corners and everything looked incredibly well done considering other titles from the studio. It felt unique in its own style while managing to provide the serious tone of the film when required.
While the film is fictional you can see and feel the amount of effort they went to in putting the film together, from the simple and traditional culture and things we see in Suzu’s day to day life around the house to the dark, cruel and horrific scenes of war. It’s one of those films where you’ll walk away feeling like you’ve learnt a bit of history and perceived something from a different perspective to what you would usually find in titles such as Barefoot Gen or Grave of the Fireflies – it makes the film feel a bit more fleshed out.
The film boasts an impressive side cast of characters, each of which having an important role to play in Suzu’s story and there was never a character who felt they were added for nothing more than a joke or for show, each one has the past and a future and it made the world feel more like a community rather than just about Suzu and most, if not all of the character’s fates are revealed as the film draws out.
It’s hard to put much of a negative on this film to be honest, with the type of film it is it’s one that I recommend that everyone watches at least once, the biggest issue I think I’ll find with the film is that it doesn’t have a huge appeal that either Your Name or A Silent Voice had, or perhaps it just simply wasn’t pushed. Our local viewing had less than ten people for the showing which for how good the film seemed almost criminal. In This Corner Of The World is a fantastic journey exploring a unique perspective of the war, it’s interesting and respectful to the issues it raises and brings the viewer in enough to care about what’s happening. I would say it’s an essential viewing for any serious fan of film or Animation.