In this Corner of the World
Directed by: Sunao Katabuchi
Written by: Sunao Katabuchi
Starring [English Dubs]: Laura Post, Jason Palmer, Kirk Thornton, Barbara Goodson, Todd Haberkorn
Review by Stephanie Cooke
In this Corner of the World is a story about Suzu, a young girl that marries and gets sent off to live with her new family. As she adjusts to her new life, the war tears through the country, she must learn how to survive with rations and supplies running low.
The story was hard to follow throughout the film. It jumps around quite a bit and I couldn’t really tell exactly what was going on. There’s a random scene that I couldn’t quite grasp if it was real or not as it deals with what looked to be a kind of yeti man? Yeah, I’m not sure. And then I completely missed the progression of the main character from being a kid to an adult and was confused when the character who looks like she’s 12 is being told that she’s about to be married off to a worthy suitor. The character animation doesn’t do a great job of conveying the ages with the exception of those who are either very old or very young.
The animation overall is a bit odd— not necessarily bad but just odd. I haven’t really been a regular anime watcher for a long time and for the last few months, I’ve been revisiting the Studio Ghibli films. After watching those, it’s hard to go to other anime and expect that same level when Studio Ghibli is known around the world because of what they do. Still, I think I went in expecting something similar in terms of how the characters are animated and it was very different than what I expected, as I discussed earlier.
Don’t get me wrong, the animation is beautiful and there’s one scene early on where a young Suzu draws a watercolour painting of the ocean which comes to life for a moment and it’s stunning.
The film is a slice of life during an awful time. I really wanted to feel more invested in the story but with the way it jumps, I didn’t really feel like I had an emotional connection to our main character, Suzu. Just as the character starts to feel as though she’s developing a bit, it switches gears and I’m lost in the next bit of the film. Around the hour and a half mark, there’s finally some emotional moments that happen and drew me back into the story but it felt like it was too little, too late. I think it suffers from not being able to decide what it wants to be.
In this Corner of the World Blu-ray Special Features:
- A Look at Post-Screening Q&As with director Sunao Katabuchi and producer Taro Maki featurette
- A 16-page preview of the graphic novel that inspired the film
- Original Theatrical Trailer
Skip it. I found the plot slow and while sometimes I can get through that, the character arcs weren’t there either to really draw me back in.
The animation is beautiful and the story touches on an incredibly hard time for Japan, but it felt empty without more of a push for emotional ties to Suzu and the other characters. I wanted to love this movie, I really did but it just didn’t pack the emotional punch that it needed to make it stand out.