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In This Corner Of The World (2017) Review

Japanese animated story about a woman living in war.

In This Corner of the World is a 2017 Japanese animated drama set in Hiroshima during World War II, as an eighteen-year-old girl gets married and now has to prepare food for her family despite the rationing and lack of supplies.

While there is surely a deeply-rooted authenticity to the art style of Sunao Katabuchi‘s In This Corner of the World, there is more so a sanguine fantasy to it all, the lush watercolor-esque backgrounds like a storybook open for us to explore. Like many in the genre, the languid details of the peripherals breathe life into the setting, and while it never pops with the vividness of say a computer animated Disney film, there is nonetheless a powerful appeal to how it looks. But more so to how it feels.

At its heart is Suzu (Non), a creative girl who has big dreams and a colorful imagination, living in a small town working with her family’s seaweed business during the late 1930s and early 40s. In the first thirty minutes we witness her growth to adulthood, to eighteen, to when she marries and joins a new family, that of Shusaku (Yoshimasa Hosoya), a young navy clerk who lives in Kure City, near Hiroshima. Here, naval vessels and artillery dot the crowded bay and she works to keep the family in food and clean clothes, learning her place in the small home. Time passes and her routines are her life, the war every present in the distant but crowding closer as dates on the screen tick ever nearer to one fateful day.

Most of the story takes place in the year leading up to August 1945 as we see the country succumb to ever-increasingly rigid rations and the steps they took to make due with less and less. Suzu is an ingenue, so young and naive to much of the ways of the her new world and it takes much effort to become part of the family as the darkness of war looms. She is sheltered by the homestead she cares for, stealing moments whenever she can to doodle and sketch the life surrounding her. The film captures in breathtaking detail the Japanese way of life at this time from architecture and landscapes to the social and communal interactions of the people. Suzu is the innocence, representing so many who knew little of what was happening behind the high hills beyond their homes.

In This Corner Of The World
In This Corner Of The World, 2017 © Mappa

When the war does come, it comes with ferocity and Suzu lives amid constant air raids and yet even this becomes routine with Suzo seeing new colors and art in the horror. The film blends her artistry with the chaos, blotching the smoke filled skies with her color soaked paintbrush. Tragedy strikes in these flurries and takes much from Suzu, challenging her beyond what she seems capable to suffer. And all the while, the screen ticks down to August 6th and there is a frightening urgency in the pace as we know what’s coming and wonder for her fate.

In This Corner of the World is a deeply-human story that evolves from its inspiring first half to one of harrowing heartbreak in the second. Suzu shifts from a symbol of innocence to a metaphor for Japan itself and there’s great dignity in Suzu as she endures. The message is clear of course, even before we reach the end and it’s one that is all too often lost on those who turn their backs to history. In This Corner of the World is a remarkably engrossing and earnest story, one that will stay with you long after it’s over.

In This Corner Of The World (2017) Review

Movie description: In This Corner of the World is a 2017 Japanese animated drama set in Hiroshima during World War II, as an eighteen-year-old girl gets married and now has to prepare food for her family despite the rationing and lack of supplies.

Director(s): Sunao Katabuchi

Actor(s): Non, Megumi Han, Yoshimasa Hosoya

Genre: Animation

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One Response

  1. Melanie Anstett August 21, 2017