Filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder for the world around her, Mari Tamaki has always dreamt of what lies beyond the reaches of the universe. However, despite harboring such large aspirations on the inside, her fear of the unknown and anxiety over her own possible limitations have always held her back from chasing them. But now, in her second year of high school, Mari is more determined than ever to not let any more of her youth go to waste. Still, her fear continues to prevent her from taking that ambitious step forward—that is, until she has a chance encounter with a girl who has grand dreams of her own.
Spurred by her mother's disappearance, Shirase Kobuchizawa has been working hard to fund her trip to Antarctica. Despite facing doubt and ridicule from virtually everyone, Shirase is determined to embark on this expedition to search for her mother in a place further than the universe itself. Inspired by Shirase's resolve, Mari jumps at the chance to join her. Soon, their efforts attract the attention of the bubbly Hinata Miyake, who is eager to stand out, and Yuzuki Shiraishi, a polite girl from a high class background. Together, they set sail toward the frozen south.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho follows the captivating journey of four spirited girls, all in search of something great.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Saint Augustine.
Winter 18 anime season was honestly a pretty underwhelming season overall because unlike the Fall 17 anime season didn’t feature a lot of good shows that are not 2nd seasons or leftovers from the Fall 17 season. The problem that I have with this season is that almost all the new shows from that season is how it went for a style over substance as well heavily pandering to the meme community. Darling in the Franxx is the worst example of this because not only in my opinion bad
at storytelling it also allowed the memes and reference to older shows to take over the actual story to a point where you're literally only watching it for the memes instead of a story and characters. However out of all the anime from the Winter 18 season A Place Further than the Universe quietly became a big hit and unlike any other new show from this season, it was actually good. So good to a point where every other anime from winter 18 that is not a squeal or a leftover look mediocre by comparison.
Okay, there was Yuru Camp than again I have not seen that show however I heard great things about it from my friends and I will be checking that show someday.
Anyway, what made this show so special?
How did this show become so good that it single-handedly dominated the Winter 18 anime season?
You soon going to find out.
The story of A Place Further than the Universe follows a high school student name Mari Tamaki who want to make the most of her youth but she is afraid to do it. One day she encounters a girl named Shirase Kobuchizawa who has been saving up so she can travel to Antarctica to find her missing mother. Together with two other girls Hinata and Yuzuki they join an expedition headed towards the Antarctic.
The story was great.
Sure the story starts being a typical cute girl doing cute things type of show but as the show progresses the show becomes so much more to a point where it deviated from it cute girls doing cute things route where it became more complex. Add to the fact the pacing the show was brilliant throughout its own as well having great writing, worldbuiding and great themes exploration and got one hell of an amazing series.
One thing that I love about the show is how adventurous it is. Seriously every time you watch an episode of this show you always feel like your actually going on an adventure with the four main girls.
Overall the story for A Place Further Than The Universe was great. It is well told, had lovely writing, and the show respected the viewer from start to finish.
The characters in A Place Further than the Universe are fantastic. The main girls were very well written as well having complex backstories that were believable and well told to the viewer. The character interactions for the four main girls were outstanding as each girl of the have great interactions with each other plus the way the four main girls react to comedic and emotional moments were outstanding to a point where they actually felt like real high school girls.
I honestly have nothing more to say about the characters here since they are all awesome and well written in they own ways.
Honestly, do I really need to say it? It’s freaking Madhouse and they are known for making anime with amazing production and this show is no different.
The character designs were well drawn as being very adorable to look at look at on-screen.
The one thing that I adore about the anime is the visual directing, in fact, the visual directing is good it overwhelms the great writing of the story that is honestly very impressive. For example in the first couple of minutes of episode 1 the show establishes the main character Mari who is an adventurous girl even though she never went for an adventure herself in her whole life however as she finally decided to take the first step towards her adventure of we get some use existent swelling music, however, the train leaves the station and we see Mari standing there. If this was a regular anime the music would have ended here, however, the music kept playing which was the more emotionally effective choice. It doesn’t stop there in the couple of scenes we see Mari still being adventurous even though she can’t act it out. The next shot showcases Mari shoes being wet and that shot alone perfectly symbolize the real world the reality of leaving the school and going on this adventure was is actually more complex then she thought at first. There are more great symbolism and visuals in this but this was one of the best examples of this show amazing visual directing.
Overall visuals in A Place Further than the Universe is a masterpiece of art thanks to great directing and stunning visuals.
The soundtrack is honestly beautiful. It’s filled with life, adventure as well-being very emotional. Yoshiaki Fujisawa did a great job with the soundtrack adding more emotional impact to the series.
The opening theme Alright by Saya is a great opening theme that captures the adventurous tone of the series. It's also very catchy.
The ending theme Koko kara, Koko kara sung by the voice actors for the 4 main girls is an awesome ending theme that I adore to no end. Even more than the opening theme. .
As off now A Place Further than the Universe hasn’t got an English which is honestly sad because I really wanted Funimation to do a simuldub with this hidden gem but no we cannot always have nice things because Funimation rather simuldub a broken show like Hakyu Hoshin Engi.
Oh well least with got the Japanese audio which was amazing as every Seiyuu did a great job with the roles especially with the four main girls.
Overall the soundtrack is brilliant as well the OP/EDs and voice acting.
What an amazing emotional and fun ride this was.
This show was honestly a blessing to the winter 18 anime season from mediocrity hell.
The story was amazing filled with great writing, world-building, themes, and pacing. The characters were wonderful and developed, the visuals were brilliant, and the soundtrack and voice acting were great.
I honestly never expected this show to dominate the whole winter 18 season and am glad it did because the show is a perfect example how to make a good modern anime.
I hope this show gets an English dub someday as well getting licensed by an anime distribution company so we can get a Blu-Ray release for this hidden gem show.
If you want to watch a great slice of life/adventure show then I strongly recommend checking out A Place Further than the Universe.
You won't regret it.
Final score 10/10
Often called the springtime of one’s life, one’s days of adolescence are a time of many firsts: the first time you skip class without your parents knowing, the first time you go on a journey with no destination and maybe even your first love. It is during these days that the innocent and inexperienced bundles of insecurities that are teenagers finally break out of their shells and the small buds turn into full-fledged adults.
Or at least they should.
Unfortunately, such is not the case for the gung-ho goofball Mari: when she finds an old notebook filled with scribbles of her past self’s wishes for her high
school days, she can’t help but cry. She wanted to gain the most out of youth and have fun every day, but she did none of these things. Instead, she secluded herself in a shell and was satisfied with an uneventful everyday life; she recognizes that she’s been scared this whole time, and she decides to make a change.
Shortly after the fact, she makes acquaintance with Shirase, a girl seemingly obsessed with Antarctica. She is the polar opposite to Mari: hardworking, confident and passionate, but at the same time shy and seclusive. Working dozens of part-time jobs day in day out, she is trying to save money to fulfill her wish and follow in her late mother’s footsteps—to travel to Antarctica.
Both envying and admiring Shirase’s strength to follow her dreams even when faced with constant mockery by her classmates, Mari decides to join up with her, and thus their journey to Antarctica begins… with a rejection by the expedition group. However, the both of them aren’t giving up just yet: they try to persuade the expedition leaders time and time again, encountering Hinata, the social but secretive high school dropout, and Shiraishi, the sheltered, expedition trip-engaged quasi-idol who invites the protagonists as her first friends along the way.
Aboard the ship, their collective antics take center stage; whether as a variety of fun facial expressions, their rock–paper–scissors shtick or massacring each other with water guns in the bathtub (which, of course, my mother walked in on), they all manage to put a smile on one's face. However, the journey isn’t all fun and games: food needs to be prepared and their bodies strengthened.
Their way is filled with many adversities: an exhilarating chase around the block, skipping school to traverse nearly the whole country by train and losing their tickets for the plane. Everyone ridiculed and tormented their dream, but they never gave up. The moment they enter Antarctica is nothing short of magical. After enduring many daunting hardships, they release their pent-up frustration and resentment for their tormentors—because they did it.
That isn’t to say they were harmonious at all times. All of these girls are at a tender age during which one might not always make sense. They engage in conflict over silly things; they sob just as much as they snicker, but that’s completely fine. Adolescence marks a time during which one undergoes major changes and grows as a person; one is allowed to act irrational, to act out and to cry. They are allowed to hold larger-than-life speeches and hide things that should rather not be hidden—and they do. These characters fail on a constant basis, but all their falling-outs and mistakes help them grow as people and form even deeper bonds of genuine friendship. It is during these moments that their weaknesses and wounds take center stage: their held-back feelings are finally allowed to pour out in brilliant displays of audiovisual character-acting culminating in scenes that are utterly heartrending.
SoraYori is about adventure, the fun and hardships of youth, and the inexperienced growing and overcoming the hurdles life might hold. By successfully interweaving the dreams and ambitions of adolescence, it builds an exhilarating and touching experience reminiscent of one’s youthful years.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS
A Place Further Than the Universe was a show I almost skipped out on. I was just starting to get into seasonal anime for the first time. As I perused through the Winter 2018 anime list, I noticed this show. At first, I was going to pass on it, as like most others, it just seemed like an average cute girls slice of life show. But I noticed a little something about it that intrigued me to no end, the promise of an adventure to Antarctica. So I went with my gut, and gave it a shot. This gut feeling turned
into total joy at this amazing sleeper hit I had found.
A Place Further Than the Universe (Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho), or Yorimoi, as I will now be calling it, is about 4 girls who decide to go on a nice little trip. And where else would a couple of high school girls rather go than the icy, unforgiving continent of Antarctica? It sounds out of nowhere and downright crazy, doesn't it? Well, the show soon establishes why each girl wants to go to Antarctica and goes out of its way to show people that it isn't an impossible dream. I'm going to be honest here, this is absolutely my favorite story told in a slice of life series. The sense of adventure is unlike any series I have ever seen besides the likes of One Piece. It adds so much charm to the narrative, which you can't find in a lot of series. Not to mention, Yorimoi perfectly balances comedy and emotional moments. The jokes can end up hitting so well, I'm left crying of laughter at the show. But the same goes for the emotional moments, where when they hit, I'm left feeling hopeless and stunned. The show provides us a masterfully interwoven plot, and one I will be praising for years to come.
Madhouse knocked this one out of the park. Yorimoi is absolutely gorgeous. So many amazing directing decisions went into play here. The utterly beautiful, detailed backgrounds, the interesting and varied shots, and the subtleties and fluidity of the animation all make this a treat for the eyes. One of the most visually stunning shows I've laid my eyes on. Atsuko Ishizuka (the director of Yorimoi) went all out on this and it really shows in the final product.
The weakest area of Yorimoi but it is by no means bad. The OP "The Girls are Alright!" and ED "Koko Kara" are very memorable (partially due to the visuals). The insert songs, especially "One Step" are quite nice as well. The OST is fine, its nice and peppy, but really nothing to write home about. One may also argue the insert songs are intrusive to the show after a while. I disagree with this statement, as I believe it added to the emotion of the scenes, but if said person got tired of the songs, I could see it having a negative affect. The voice acting on the other hand, is great, with each performance fitting the characters to a tee (my favorite being Kana Hanazawa's performance of Shirase. Overall, pretty good on the sound department, but not too much to write home about.
One of the main draws to Yorimoi, its fantastic characters. While I don't think its cast is as godlike as something like K-On, it still has one of the best casts I've seen in anime. They all work off each other fantastically. This is mainly because they feel real. Their conversations are the same things that you could easily see real high school girls having. They laugh together and they cry together, but never are their unique and distinct personalities compromised throughout this. Let's go over each one of the 4 main girls:
Mari Tamaki: The (debatable) protagonist of Yorimoi. Mari (or Kimari, as she's called) is very vibrant and energetic. Yet, she finds herself feel like she's wasting her high school years away, doing nothing special with her life. This is why she sets out to go to Antarctica with Shirase after they have their chance encounter. I find Kimari's reasoning to be the most relatable, as I personally don't want to go throughout my life doing nothing interesting. Overall, Kimari is a very likable protagonist, but probably the least interesting of the 4 main girls.
Shirase Kobuchizawa: My favorite character in Yorimoi and currently sits comfortably as my 8th favorite character in all of anime/manga. Shirase is quite shy around others, but when with friends, she shows her true colors and opens up as a fun-loving, wild person. She is the one who sets the story into motion, as she is the first of the girls who decides to go to Antarctica. This all stems from her mother, Takako who leaves for Antarctica when she is young, only to disappear and never return. Shirase is determined to go see what drew her mother to Antarctica, and experience what she experienced for herself. Shirase is my favorite as she easily has the most depth of the four. She's unpredictable, crazy and funny, but also quiet and emotional and that's what makes her so damn enjoyable to watch.
Hinata Miyake: Between Hinata and Shirase, its hard to pick favorites, but I think I prefer Shirase ever so slightly. This is not to discredit Hinata though, she is still fantastic. She's vibrant, peppy and acts as the comedic relief for the most part. She joins on this Antarctica expedition on a spur, just because it'd seem fun to her. You think she'd just be the funny character, with little to no depth to her. I thought this for a little while too, but slowly, we learn more about her and her past, and see how many layers there really are to her. We see her struggle with her loneliness from getting outcasted from school. We feel the pain she is going through. We understand her, and that's ultimately what made her character succeed for me Hinata is definitely the character who grows the most throughout this journey, and for this unexpected depth, I will forever appreciate her character.
Yuzuki Shiraishi: Yuzuki is the most introverted of the gang. She is very shy and it takes a while for her to open up to the other 3. She journeys to Antarctica out of the desire to make real friends and forge real relationships for the first time in her life. Since she was young, Yuzuki has been a celebrity, making her a very busy person. This led to her not having the time to making friends, and even when she did, she never had the time to hang out with any of them, slowly killing thew few relationships she had. Her story really hits home, despite it not being relatable to me personally. I ended up really feeling for her. She got the happy ending she deserved.
That does it for the main characters, but the side cast is also pretty great too. Megumi (Megu) is a longtime friend to our main character, Kimari. She starts out as this boring, uninteresting character, but over time, her true intentions are revealed and you end up sympathizing with her. She just wanted someone to keep by their side and grow up with together, and that's not really such a bad thing is it? Gin Todo is one of the people who was on the Antarctica expedition where Takako (Shirase's mother) disappeared. Due to this, she has fantastic interactions with Shirase, and they slowly develop a bond, despite everything in the past that had happened. This is on top of all the fantastic backstory she adds to the show.
Overall, this cast is brilliant, with god-tier interactions, both comedically and emotionally, and is probably the best part of Yorimoi.
I enjoyed this series from Episode 1 all the way to the finale. It never failed to surprise me every episode at its sheer quality and ability to consistently improve each time, whether it be through its wonderful characters, fantastic direction or breathtaking art. Captivating just begins to describe it.
A Place Further Than the Universe is an anime for anyone. Anyone can appreciate its complex characters. Anyone can acknowledge the beautiful animation and direction in it. Anyone can see the love and care put into this. Yorimoi is an inpsiring tale, that has helped to convince me that no dream is impossible (within the plausibility of reality). If you want to do something in your life, GO FOR IT. Don't let anyone or anything stop you from reaching your goals. This is a story I won't forget for the rest of my life, I'm sure of it.
Journey. This one word has a heap of meanings behind its back. Why do we travel? The reasons range from being a collective success of mankind to discover a new plateau to just the sheer joy and curiosity that is obtained from setting foot in a new land. The air, the atmosphere, the scent... these things feel so different and anew and there is a kind of refreshment that you can only find in yourself after the exploration of an unknown place.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho takes us on a journey to Antarctica, also promulgated by the show as a 'Place Farther than the Universe'.
The point of view that we get on this tour comes from a set a four high school girls; Shirase, Mari, Hinata & Yuzuki. We are introduced to our main characters one by one in the first half of the show and there is a slow yet stable development as we get to know the motives of why the girls want to head off on a journey to Antarctica. A major part of it comes from the resolve of Shirase, a seemingly uncoordinated girl who is firm on her resolve - to follow her mother's footsteps into the deserted (in this case, polar?), ice-cold and the shunned-off-of-earth place that is Antarctica. At this point, there are two routes that the show can take, either to dive deep into the apparatus of this kind of process and make it sort of a documentary sequence or just follow a "Follow your dream!" type of scenario where things just happen and as a result of some probe runs or what-not, we just have our four young, out of place girls that should be studying in their schools rather than going on a death mission to one of the most uninhabitable places in the world. But through Yuzuki, who is one of the girls and working as an idol, when assigned at first unwillingly, though, to partake in the journey, we find our characters all mingled up together on this adventure. And that necessarily isn't a bad thing, as the show is reliant at all times on the themes of a self-discovery and following your dreams. It is essentially a feel good character drama that encourages positivity, and probably a marketing stunt for the Icebreaker Shirase but let's be real here, Madhouse definitely pulls all the right cards on this one and gives enough material for the viewer to sit down and enjoy the adventure that ensues.
The cast is mostly all-female in this, most of the crew members on board and others which closely connect with the story are female including our four high school students taking the centre stage. While the show does not put emphasis on one single character, it takes the reasoning behind Shirase's motives and establishes the cast and story through the cheerful and bubbly personality of Mari, who desires to partake in a journey that is out of the extraordinary. The staff do an extremely good job at constantly fleshing out the characters and providing tidbits of their lives while the story keeps on progressing. What makes it exciting to sit through it however is how some of the strands are cleverly improvised and left incomplete for the viewer to fill in the pieces. It is also well paced and though it contains rehashing of previously used lines or scene, they act beneficiary to the where the show is progressing and thus offers a conclusive ending. As a whole, I feel this connects the show as a whole and makes it more engrossing, something that Madhouse were able to achieve than to follow a singular and boring path that I've seen several other SOL shows do.
Big eyes and bubbly faces, a recipe commonly used in lighthearted anime. However it has been put to good use with consistent animation and aesthetics that go down well with each other. The animation is fluid and refined that matches the mood of the show and the art synchronizes with the occasional gimmicky nature of the show. The character designs may be on the lazier side, but just a tad bit. However for an original show that is focused more on the concept rather than the intentions of the character themselves, I'd say Madhouse has been exceptional on the technical side of it. A highlighting mention of the art would be how often real life structures and places, such as the iconic Merlion Park in Singapore is displayed. The ship itself, Icebraker Shirase, looks strikingly similar to the real one. The lighting in the background is used to great effects and last but not least, the sight of aurora lights in the Antarctic is stunning to look at, even if it being in animation. The sound effects really complement the aesthetics too. The music is consistent throughout and the soundtracks have a minimalistic and soothing tone that really complements the positive nature of the show. The very same lines can be used for the opening, "The Girls Are Alright!" by saya. A cheerful and super lovely song that really captures the emotion of the show. Personally talking, it was easy for me to get into the opening song and it was among my favorites for the season during the beginning episodes. A big mention to the character voices too that have done an excellent job with the ending song as well. Personality wise, I think the voice actors did a fantastic job to portray the emotions and the nuances of their assigned characters. The delightfully complacent portrayal of Mari was iconic.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho is a journey in itself. The underlying message to fully enjoy the youth is something that will resonate with many. If you are looking for a feel-good drama with many positives to take, this is definitely a show that's worth watching. My final take away from this would be that the legacy of studio Madhouse will continue if they produce original shows like this. And did I already mention that this is a promotional and marketing attempt as well? I'm sure success isn't far because the anime definitely is one. Madhouse are definitely yelling "In your face!" with this one. I'm looking at you here, Shirase.