War; A word that can be described with multiple meanings. A story that brings rejoice to the one who won but anguish to the one who lost. We cannot determine where you’ll see the most damage. Is it the battlefield itself? Where people cry over the corpse of their comrades, where people are promised glory and fame but in the end get nothing but suffering. Or is it the home itself?
In This Corner of the World is a 2016 Japanese animated wartime drama film. MAPPA studio has produced it. Sunao Katabuchi is the director. It features character designs by Hidenori Matsubara. Kotringo gave the music. The film is based on a manga of the same name. Fumiyo Kōno wrote and illustrated the manga series.
In This Corner of the World – Plot
In This Corner of the World follows the story of Urano Suzu, starting with her early years in Hiroshima in 1933. We get a sight of her life – how she was a kid, her artistic skills that included painting and sketching. The film is told in the form of the young girl’s diary. Shortly it skips through the shaping of her childhood and runs side by side with the mashing hunks of the war. Time passes. At the age of 19, Suzu agrees to marry Shusaku Hojo, someone she hasn’t met before. He resides in Kure, a port town located over the mountains and the naval base of Japan in World War II.
Addressed into the new family, Suzu begins with the daily household chores. And soon adjusted herself to the unique atmosphere. The emotional secrecy between her and Shusaku evolved quickly enough, also with the other family members. Finally, the year 1945 arrives. Mist darkens the harbor, concealing unseen danger. Warnings of incoming air raids were broadcasted on the radio. Airstrikes and bombing raids finally reached Kure. The theater of World War II was at its peak.
In This Corner of the World excels in exhibiting about life that goes on with or without war. The movie is heavenly made, reflecting how ordinary people were affected by World War II. One specific feeling that this film has is waiting for when Hiroshima encounters the first atomic bomb. But still, it doesn’t divert you from what is happening in the movie.
Slice of life is used here as its gimmick. The storyline is the most vital part of the film. The storytelling is so sublime that it manages to build a striking play throughout the movie. The pace is leisurely, but it doesn’t make us bored at all. Instead, the characters engross us entirely in their daily lives. The building of tension toward a specific end date is done great as well. How history affects the lives of characters that we have come to care for is worth watching.
The director manages to blend the slice of life and drama exceptionally well. Their combination successfully makes the story emotional and solid. The romance element is kept pretty straightforward and simple in the movie. There is no room for a fictional romance. It is natural and subtle throughout with a flavor of husband-wife relationship or first love as a spice.
Every character has a role to play for Suzu. Although they have their parts to play, their activities are all reflected in Suzu.
Suzu is a quirky protag. She doesn’t know what she wants with her life. Moreover, she believes in going with it wherever it takes. She was given a chance to turn the wedding down, even though it was already arranged. She didn’t even know who she was going to marry. But still, she chose not to turn it. At that time, women’s role in society was not much equal as it is now.
Shusaku has been an understanding gentleman throughout. If he weren’t there, the marriage would have been worse for Suzu. He was not only sympathetic but also kind to her. When she struggled to fit in with his family at first, he helped her make the transition go by so much more smoothly.
Speaking of Keiko, she is a harsh character initially. She always remains to mean to Suzu and talks in a condescending manner. But once you get to know about her back story, you will realize why she is so raw. And you will begin to appreciate how she can keep moving forward with her life. It doesn’t pardon her for how she behaved with Suzu. But her last conversation with her indeed developed some meaning to her life and the results of her preferences.
The animation in the film was tremendously beautiful. It captures a glorious vision of the surrounding beauty. The visuals of the real world and the imaginary world are blended well. The bombs and explosions turn into expressive-looking fireworks being drawn by an unseen hand.
The most extreme stylistic variation is observed in the movie’s traumatic incident. To imply its complete impact, the film is sure of an artistic presentation of the scene. The music, on the other hand, is elementary and natural. It works very well with the animation.
This Corner of the World is a very benevolent movie. It is thoughtful, magnificent, and artistic. It conveys reliable messages with thematic chasms. And most importantly, it gives a joyful experience. A must-watch for sure with a unique storytelling medium.
“In the end, the cicadas do not stop playing just because there is a war. And that’s why life should go on while we are busy dealing with its tragedies”.