I always like watching things that give ma a different perspective on life. Something that pulls my mind in a different direction and gives me a different frame of thinking from the usual. I know that this isn’t a big surprise considering what this review is about, but this movie did that for me. Through out my life, I have seen a large variety of World War 2 movies, but they are always from the western soldier perspective. Soldier movies with people missing, John Wayne movies with him riding into battle to save the day again, Captain America: The First Avenger, and even that Christopher Nolan movie that came out this year, Dunkirk. They are always from the western perspective and never on the home front. In This Corner of the World does both of those things, which is completely mesmerizing to me in a good way. (No, I have never seen Grave of the Fireflies and don’t really want to. While I have seen Ghibli Movies, I’m not as big of a fan of them as other people are).
In This Corner World is incredibly easy to describe. I already gave away most of what the movie is about in my intro paragraph. Set in the two of World War 2, this movie centers around a young woman named Suzu. After seeing little glimpses of her growing up near Hiroshima (I think you might know where this film is going by me just saying that), she eventually gets proposed to by a man she doesn’t know and moves to Kure to marry him. This is where the meat of the story takes place. Kure is a city that is home to a naval base, which plays a very important role of how the story of In this Corner progresses (air raids). Through Suzu and her husband’s family, we see the full affects that a war has on normal people and what the toll is for fighting in a war. It also shows some of the gender roles and values that people had in that era, so watch out for that.
The characters of In This Corner of the World are incredibly simple, which makes sense if you know what our protagonist, Suzu, is like. First off, Suzu is incredibly easy to describe. She is amazing at drawing and is a big air head. That’s about it really. She does grow quite through the big losses around her and does become brave and steely over the course of the film, but that’s her only arc. The other characters, while playing a role as well, are as unknown to us as they are to her at first. In some ways this is great, because that is great because that forces the viewer to be put into Suzu’s world. In other ways, we barely know more about these characters then surface traits. They do become a lot more loveable and attachment worthy as the show goes on though, I’ll give it that. Now that I think about it, that might the whole point of this movie. While none of the characters are stand outs, the entire family is what you become attached to. While this sort of premise wouldn’t work for a tv show, it works fine for a movie.
All of the visual aspects of this movie are highly stylized, yet very simple. This entire movie looks like a moving water color painting. It’s something like Princess Kaguya from Studio Ghibli but maybe with a little more dtail. So there you go, that’s the color palette and art style this movie is going for. The character designs are simple, yet detailed. So are a lot of the backgrounds and machines. When the air raids start to happen and you see bombs hitting the ground and different types of airplanes flying around and fighting each other, none of this affects the impact of what is going on. Actually, I say it helps it all because you never expect to see such horrible imaginary with such soft colors. The tonal dissonance between it all really helps to send in the necessary emotions that you are going to feel. Yes, you will most likely cry.
From an anime movie perspective, In this Corner of the World belongs somewhere on my list of anime film favorites. Yes, even against Your Name. It’s impactful, not overly convoluted by weird mysticism plots (not that these are bad things when done well), and just so different from a lot of things that I’ve seen from Studio Mappa. While that last one isn’t that much of a qualifier, it’s a definite truth. Mappa has gone on hard with a lot of different fantasy series, Yuri on Ice, and things like Inuyashiki (bleh), so seeing them pull out some different is pretty exciting and shows how flexible Mappa’s pallet is. If this sounds interesting to you, please give it a watch. You will not be disappointed by it at all, I guarantee it.