In This Corner of the World
Scores of films set in the Second World War have depicted the European experience, but not many narrate the devastating events that unfolded in Japan during those years. Grave of the Fireflies is the best-known anime to deal with the subject, and it did so with great force and intensity. Sunao Katabuchi’s In This Corner of the World is more soft in its approach. It’s a graceful, nostalgia-filled coming-of-age tale that slowly becomes entangled with war events until all personal stories are squashed by the greater tragedy facing the country.
The protagonist is Suzu, a young girl leading a simple life with her family. She is shown as a daydreamer who loves to draw and create stories, and is teased for her clumsiness and inability to focus. Ten years later, a marriage offer by a stranger takes her to a fishing village farther out of Hiroshima. Her attempts to be a good housewife are comical and manifestations of her strengthening bond with her husband and his family are endearing. The film somehow manages to retain a great dose of sweetness in spite of the heavy themes that take over in the second half.
The successful manga series was adapted into this feature after a crowdfunding campaign was held, and fans will be pleased that the animation stays true to the sentimental mood that characterises the original story. Embellished with hand-drawn additions that represent Suzu’s own drawings, the cross between real life events and the protagonist’s imagination really make her perspective come alive. Maintaining the focus on one person’s experience, a dreamer who longs for paints as she watches explosions in the sky, is an impactful way of capturing the disruption of the war on the psyche of its victims.
Powerful and touching, In This Corner of the World imparts its messages quietly, but manages to express more with its understated style. From its condemnation of violence to its recognition of women’s resilience, the film never falls into melodrama but elegantly maintains a bittersweet tone throughout, even when presenting hope as a way out for its characters.
In This Corner of the World is released nationwide on 28th June 2017.
Watch the trailer for In This Corner Of The World here: