Review: IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD この世界の片隅に (2017) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Review: IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD この世界の片隅に (2017)

Suzu (voiced by Rena Nounen) in a scene from IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD (2017)

IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD tells a story of a young girl named Suzu (voiced by Rena Nounen), who moves from her hometown of Hiroshima to Kuru after marrying to a guy (Yoshimasa Hosoya) she hardly knows. Soon, she learns how to cope her new life as a housewife living with her family-in-law while surviving the World War II era.


REVIEW: A sentimental 1940s wartime drama told from the perspective of an ordinary girl, Sunao Katabuchi's IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD has famously won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year back in March. What's more, this acclaimed anime even managed to overcome other fellow strong nominees including YOUR NAME and A SILENT VOICE. Now that the anime has finally arrived on our shores, is it really worth all the accolades so far? Well, I have to say the result is decidedly mixed.

Suzu (voiced by Rena Nounen) has her ways of improvising the limited food supply in IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD (2017)

Still, one thing for sure, the 2D animation is simply exquisite to look at. Whether it was the rural landscape of Kure and Hiroshima or the 1940s costumes and decors, each frame is wonderfully animated with a distinct painterly look. Katabuchi, who adapted Fumiyo Kono's manga of the same name alongside Chie Uratani, has their unique ways of telling a mundane slice-of-life drama. For instance, there is an elaborate cooking scene where Suzu improvised whatever food supply she had (in this case, sardines and rice). Don't be surprised if that scene alone made you hungry. Although the story is set against the World War II backdrop, Katabuchi manages to slip in some effective comedy moments such the amusing scene where Suzu being accused as a "spy" by the military police.

One of the most memorable scenes in IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD (2017)

Speaking of Suzu, there are times her artistic point-of-view made the otherwise grim situations uniquely beautiful. At one point, she imagines the air raid like some sorts of paint bursting in the sky. Even when the eventual tragedies struck upon her, Katabuchi presents Suzu's viewpoint in a way unlike most people would commonly react.

But as much as I enjoy some of the exceptional ways Suzu is being portrayed here, her overly passive and stolid nature of her character tends to grow bland. Sure, she is supposed to be an ordinary country girl who daydreams a lot where she spends most of her time sketching. It is also understandable that different people have different ways of expressing themselves. Regardless joy, sorrow or disappointment. And yet, it's hard to shake off the monotonous feeling about the way she reacts, no matter what situations she is going through. Another gripe is the unnecessary two-hour-plus length, in which the anime could have benefited more with a few trimming. While I get the point that Katabuchi wants to mimic the pacing of his drama reminiscent of an everyday life, the overall repetitive content of this anime doesn't really justify the aforementioned length.

Although IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD is hardly a masterpiece that I was hoping for, this anime remains a fairly fascinating watch.

It's far from a masterpiece, but Sunao Katabuchi's IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD still deserves the praise for its painterly look of 2D animation.

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