In This Corner of the World (Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni) is a wartime drama film that aired in November of 2016. It based on a ’06 manga created by Fumiyo Kouno. Not only did the recent animation win the 40th Japan Academy Award for Best Animation, but the original series also won an award of excellence in 2009 at the Japan Media Arts Festival. The film is animated by studio MAPPA (Zankyou no Terror, Yuri!!! on ICE, Kakegurui) and was directed by Sunao Katabuchi.
Synopsis: In 1944, Suzu Urano moves to the small town of Kure in Hiroshima where she marries Shuusaku Houjou—a young clerk who works at the local naval base. Living with his family, Suzu becomes essential to the running of the household and creatively prepares meals during the tough wartime conditions while also carrying out daily housework. In 1945, intense bombings by the U.S. military finally reach Kure with devastating effect to the townsfolk and their way of life. Suzu’s life is changed irrevocably, but through perseverance and courage, she manages to continue to live life to the fullest. (Credit: Animatsu Entertainment)
Review: In This Corner of the World, truly, has one of the best stories we have seen in an animated film in at least the last two years. Unlike most movies, its story is based on the very real events of WWII, when the United States dropped its two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the movie is based in a time of war, becoming a film about war isn’t the main goal here. In This Corner of the World showcases just how hard it is to struggle and continue living, especially while being affected by something on the scale of a world war. The story follows our main character Suzu’s life, all the way from young childhood through adulthood.
The movie starts out at a time when she is very young and still living with her family. Her hobby is sketching, and she loves to draw elaborate and detailed pictures of her surroundings. Ironically, her passing for drawing ends up getting her into a little trouble later on in the film. As time goes on, she gets word from her family that a young man, albeit older than she is, has come and asked for her hand in marriage. Having been from and lived in Hiroshima, the marriage causes her to relocate to Kure, near one of the biggest Japanese naval bases.
Here she is first met with the challenge of fitting into her new family, but she must also learn more about her new life and style of living as well. Having previously been horrible at cooking, cleaning, and working around the house, she starts off struggling. In addition, the horrors of war continue to swirl around her. Being the audience, we have more information surrounding the war than our characters do, and we know the impending disaster that is coming. Many times throughout the film Suzu expresses her desire to return home. But as the viewers, we pray for her safety and only hope that she doesn’t.
One of the best things about In This Corner of the World is the character’s reactions and emotions to what is happening around them. Sometimes they are scared and fearful, and other times they show their annoyance with having to evacuate to bomb shelters every day of the week. The film perfectly portrays how normal people would react to these situations, while at the same time just trying to live the best lives they can, given the circumstances. The huge range emotions, not only from the characters but the overall mood of the story, is part of what makes In This Corner of the World a treat to experience.
Having already explained both the excellent story and characters, I also wanted to touch on the music and sound of the movie. The music was beautiful, with the ending theme “Migite no Uta” having been performed by Japanese singer-songwriter Kotringo. Additionally, the sound effects were crisp and captivating; it is always a huge plus for any piece of work when both it’s music and sound perfectly match the mood and emotions it means to create. If you got the opportunity to see Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale, the sound effects are on par with that of those. While the background illustrations were amazing, the characters seemed just a little bit simplistic, even if that was the style they were going for.
The film was easily enjoyable, and it even left me with a little bit more understanding (assuming the film is accurate) of how the Japanese handled the situation so many decades ago. In This Corner of the World is a brilliant work of art, that I would highly recommend. If you have already seen it and are looking for similar works, Grave of the Fireflies and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 would be your best bet.
What did you think about In This Corner of the World (Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni)? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
New Characters: 8/10
In This Corner of the World (Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni) on MyAnimeList.