WTW 001 : In This Corner of the World
WORTH THE WATCH
WARNING! THE REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Anime movies come in a variety of genres and styles based on the personality of the author. We can group anime movies of all genres into two categories though ; Spin Offs and Unique Works. Typically an anime movie exists to boost the sales and the excitement of the fanbase of an established franchise or as a unique work that targets our emotions with heartfelt stories and characters. Today we’ll be reviewing a film on Netflix titled, “In This Corner of the World” which falls into the second category.
The movie follows the young adult life of Urano Suzu, a girl from Hiroshima, who is forced to marry a sailor from a nearby town. She has no problem with her husband, but his family proves to be an impediment to her integration into this new environment. She finds herself facing The cold look of her new sister-in-law, new responsibilities as a housewife, and the task of caring for her mother-in-law. It all proves to be a steep uphill trek to normalcy. She struggles to find her place in this new world and problems only grow when bombings in Japan devastate the town. Destruction and deaths quickly makes all of their lives a living nightmare. Her story takes a turn for the worse when she’s caught in an explosion that claims her right arm and Harumi, the daughter of her sister-in-law. Afterwards there’s a lull that builds up to the climatic atomic bomb that drops on Hiroshima and the movie ends with a bittersweet notion that we all have to continue moving on with what we still have, and accepting that in life there is loss.
There are multiple goals this movie tried to accomplish. It speaks to the hardships of an average Japanese citizen during the war. It brings out how when disaster and devastation strikes, everyday hardships still exist and can be amplified. This is especially true from the viewpoint of the protagonist, Suzu who has to stay strong as a responsible citizen, a patriot, a wife, and a human. She’s pushed to navigate her own survival while also protecting her new family as her husband is deployed. She even is faced with the raw reality of what losing a child does to a family on the brink of falling apart.
Despite all of the great aspects of the movie, it fails to evenly present the gravity of this time in history or execute depth to the distress. The movie overall is too subtle and this causes the movie to drag. The just-over-two-hours animation does not make the most of it’s screen time. The first half of the film focuses on building a backstory for Suzu and then skips to her journey of adjusting to an arranged marriage. During this first hour, a lot of time is spent on sharing facts that are inconsequential to the plot and character development. The movie doesn’t really start to be captivating until the second half. During the second half of the movie you see the characters truly unravel amidst the bombings. You start to see the true effect the war is having on Suzu, her family, and her town.
Unfortunately by this point it’s hard to really know how to feel as a viewer since you’ve been waiting so long for something to happen. As much as I would love to love this movie for the historical homage that it tries to express, it fails to evoke any real empathy or pain for the character's circumstances until far too late into the film.
The artwork of the characters is quite minimalistic
The background in contrast is an absolute gem; the detail put in makes every frame interesting
The battleships were gorgeously detailed
The soundtrack is barely noticeable; there’s good melodies in the beginning but nothing memorable
Overall score: 6.5/10
Best Quote From Film: It pains me to ponder this emptiness anymore. Will salvation ever come?
If you’re interested in more movies like this anime, it was produced by MAPPA. This studio is also known for Yuri!!! on Ice, the now airing Jujutsu Kaisen, and the upcoming final season of Shingeki no Kyojin. I would recommend Grave of the Fireflies, which is a more insightful and sorrowful depiction of the end of the war.