It says a whole lot that I didn't even think I'd watch this before it aired, and now it's my favorite of the season so far, and I HEAVILY doubt it's going to lose that title.
This show, man. THIS SHOW.
Now, I wasn't even going to watch this simply because the summary was short and sounded like it wasn't going to be anything special. Before it got a better one, it was just 'Highschool Girls journey to antarctica' and I barely gave it a glance before clicking away. Then I found out it was animated by Madhouse, and that got my attention.
So I watched
the first episode, expectations low for everything but the animation quality, and holy...fuck.
This show is just pure love. It's Cute Girls Doing Cute Things, but on steroids with a fantastic story and realistic characters! Seriously, I love the CGDCT anime, but it almost feels like an insult to even compare this to that genre, because it's so much more.
The art is beautiful and the character designs are adorable while still managing to be realistic, just what I'd expect from Madhouse.
This series fills me with nostalgia for things I've never even done. It makes me empathize with things I don't relate to. It's absolutely amazing.
The characters are fantastic!! I absolutely adore the main four, and each of their backstories are believable and have just enough solemnness to make me emotionally invested in them. The comedy is on point, having me laugh aloud multiple times an episode, and the emotional impact never loses its punch.
Please, just give this anime a try. I promise you won't be disappointed. I have never once desired to visit the Arctic, nor do I have any interest in the place itself, and still, I am in love with this anime completely. I fully plan on writing a full review once it finishes, and I'm nearly certain it's going to get a full 10/10 from me.
It's done absolutely everything right so far. Great animation, amazing characters, fantastic soundtrack, and more. Man, if it keeps up this quality, I may have to put it on my favorites list.
If you're unsure of this would be your thing, just give it a try. I promise you'll be surprised!!!
EDIT: I finished it, and just as I predicted, it's a 10/10. Absolutely flawless.
I adored this anime to pieces. It knew what it was doing, and it set out to tell a somber, yet saccharine sweet story that never felt convoluted or like it didn't know where it wanted to go. It was utterly beautiful.
There is literally no best girl. THEY'RE ALL BEST GIRLS, MAN. THEY'RE ALL TOP TIER FANTASTIC, LOVABLE CHARACTERS.
(Also, this show never relies on fanservice, which I really admired. Nothing wrong with fanservice, but it would've taken from the story itself, and the anime never even came close to going in that direction. Just a bonus I felt like mentioning.)
This entire anime was a joy to see, and I'm so glad I gave it a chance. Good on ya, Madhouse.
If I had to pick a favorite moment....it'd probably be the end of episode 12, or the end of episode 7. No spoilers, of course, but if you've seen this show then you know exactly what I'm talking about. THE TEARS, DUDE.
The ost is perfect. Animation was really great. Characters are all absolutely divine. When I was watching, I never went, "Oh, why can't they speed this up?" Or "Ugh, this is boring." Not once. Every part of this story had me sucked in and I just wanted to see where it'd take these lovable goofs called characters.
Seriously, give it a chance. It probably won't be for everyone, and that's fine, but I found myself in love with this series from episode 1, and my adoration for it has only grown episode by episode. It's not only a 10/10 and my favorite from this season, it's one of my favorite anime of all time.
I could ramble about it all day (seriously, if you wanna talk about this show, you're welcome to talk to me about it. I'd love to rave about it with someone!) and this anime is one that I'm going to be rewatching multiple times, and fondly remembering for years to come.
“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.
There is only 4 episodes of this anime out so far but it is already by far the best anime of the season, in my opinion. It's main strength is its strong characters, but it is incredibly good in all other aspects as well.
The story is centred around high school girls, which is nothing new, but it has a pretty unique twist that makes it a lot more interesting.
Visually it is outstanding. The art is beautiful and the animation is smooth and lively which suits the spirited characters.
The main characters are just a small group of high school girls, yet are the best part
about the whole show. All of the mains already have a decent amount of depth to them and there has been quite a bit of development only 4 episodes in. They are all realistic and believable characters, and are so endearing. There have been a few heartwarming wholesome friendship moments, which were nice. The character interactions have often been hilarious, which is helped by the great chemistry that the VAs seem to have with each other.
The voice acting is superb (although that's to be expected with names like KanaHana and Inori Minase) and makes for a very believable portrayal of high school girls, allowing for an immersive experience. The OP and ED are both good but nothing special. The soundtrack is very fitting to the mood and not often noticed, which is good.
To conclude, definitely at least give this show a chance, even if it doesn't seem like your thing, because it is incredibly good.
This year—that is 2018, to warm up your Winter with an adventurous slice of life, Madhouse has brought close to you A Place Further Than The Universe.
Antarctica, a barren continent completely ruled over by frozen white. The only colors that paint over this vastest canvas on the planet are luminous electromagnetic lighting-effects, a phenomenon known as 'aurora'. To consume the visage of this awe-inspiring painting crafted by the largest known artists (Sun and Earth) using the smallest of tools (particles and atoms), or to experience the euphoric sensation of conquest, or to be overwhelmed by its scale, humans have always been attracted to this region
like moths drawn in towards light. From Japan, it's a place that's further than space; and that might be a source of thrill itself. However, the true joy in such grand adventures may lie in the small and simple steps in the journey.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho takes the viewers to that journey from the very first step, starting with the hesitation of Tamaki Mari as she encounters the last chance to make her 'youth' memorable in a remarkable way. Joining Shirase Kobuchizawa on her wish to reach Antarctica, Tamaki has to go through a lot to manage their way into a group of first ever Japanese high-schoolers in an expedition team. On their way, their team grows double in size with two other central characters joining in. These encounters and the time they spend together are the core essence of SoraYori.
The anime handles and showcases these character interactions with utmost care but never backs down from pouring in all sorts of amusing ideas throughout its run-time. It's one of the most interesting anime that aired as of late with some parts like the chase scene in the second episode being some of the most interesting things anime has offered this year as of now. That pure fun occupies the spot for best appeal of the show, at least for me personally.
While 'fun' may make it sound like a lighthearted series, which it mostly is, this anime lacks in neither depth nor gravity. There's always more to every character than what meets the eyes, be it hidden secrets, buried regrets or subtle nuances of what's displayed. All of these seamlessly melt into the narrative that contains the consistent and diverse characterization of all involved characters. The flow of these humane factors result in powerful dramatic tension.
The dramatic moments may sometimes be a bit too sappy for some viewer's taste, but their strength lies in how pure and concise they are, with more than enough backdrop or subtle exposition to back them up. Despite not being tagged as a drama, SoraYori gifts us with some fine dramatic moments. Moments of melancholy, moments of joy, moments of heart-wrenching sadness, ecstasy, the balanced injection of raw emotions in this anime is totally worth calling 'beautiful'.
And Madhouse captures that beauty wholeheartedly through its visual finesse, coupled with sounds that blend into each and every scene in the series. Sublime performance by highly skilled voice actors draws out the personalities and feelings of the characters while the carefully crafted facial expressions and body language brings them to life. As such, we viewers genuinely feel as if we're embarking on this journey alongside these very real characters.
That's why the lessons they learn and the realization they come to hit home much harder than they normally would've. The anime that seemed like a tasty experience also ended up being a thematically profound work of art on its way.
Cold and comfy at the same time, this relatively short series of 13 episodes is sure to give you the chills even in summer and warmth in winter.
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.
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.
I was hoping Sora yori mo Tooi Basho be an anime where cute girls wear ridiculously puffy winter coats against winter scenery, an adventure approached with the comfy manner. Instead this series focused too much on the serious side and contained loads of drama.
Seriousness and drama aren't something I would mind. The problem is the believability. If there is a serious anime about teenage girls travelling to Antarctica, it should be taken seriously instead of half-assedly throwing in obstacles and factors that need to be taken into consideration before the trip. And suddenly at the very next scene we're looking at slice of life
silliness and personal issues. This makes the series seem rather messy.
Same thing with the drama. When tragic past stories, betrayal and bullying are present, the motivations for the trip become rather questionable. Other than Hinata's natural ambition and Shirase's mom, the main reason for our trip seems to be escapism. This would be great if it wasn't so confusing due the drama and seriousness being half of the anime.
The other half is slice of life comedy. That's where this show shines at. Penguins are a running gag in the show. This is presented in an impressive manner to say the least. Some of the side character's especially Mari's mom create the most memorable comedic moments in the show. Yet, constantly when these moments are present and the characters are goofing around in comedy scenes, I find myself asking the question "so what about the trip to Antarctica? Is that still a thing?"
After the actual trip stars, the series goes for much worse. The following episodes contain at least one melodramatic crying scene each, often more. Along the melodrama, there is always a scene where character shouts their heart's content out loud just to make it seem like there is at least something still going on in the series. These scenes can be rather cringey and feel pointless.
I could have forgiven most of these things if I had found a way to respect the characters. Unfortunately the author made this very hard for me. I strongly dislike it when characters are used as a plot elements or puppets by the writer to compensate their lack of skill in creating substance and events that make sense. For example, in the very first episode, our main character loses 10 000 USD worth of cash. She just drops it. One could argue that this happens because of her characteristics or clumsiness, but it really doesn't. It happens because the author used her as a plot element to introduce the main characters to each others. The same thing is constantly done with melodrama. Instead of there being actual reasons for these characters to cry all the time, they just do so because it was the only way the author knew how to deliver feelings. Quite frankly, shallow content such as this one with zero emotional depth presented is not reaching my end.
*edited and re-submitted, originally with 120 votes
*the purpose of this review is not to claim that my views on this show are somehow "better" than someone else's, just to offer an alternative perspective among the all-positive praise
Winter 2018 started off with a clash of titans. In the red corner, the impossibly hyped-up Violet Evergarden. In the blue corner, that snazzy Studio Trigger mecha show. Everyone was taking wagers on who would be the next heavyweight champ. But as the rounds went on, whispers fluttered through the audience. Did either of these really deserve the title?
Eh, maybe. For the record, 10 episodes in I find Violet Evergarden to be exceptional. Darling in the Franxx has yet to conclusively prove itself, but it has a ton of potential and a long way to go. But I definitely think that A Place Further than
the Universe (henceforth Sora Yori) deserves its share of time in the spotlight. While this is my first ‘cute girls’ anime, there are elements shared across all genres that Sora Yori executes really well on. The series primarily works around wholesome comedy and drama elements, and consistently sells it. The story manages to generate interest without holding a looming endpoint and effortlessly swings in the direction of some serious thematic drama when the time comes.
Most notably, Sora Yori just has great main characters. They are all hilarious, seamlessly pull off being close friends, and provide interesting dramatic interplay with each other to give the plot some shape. While comedy tops the list of reason I enjoyed the show, the opportunities each character can give the others to shine really cannot be understated. This is backed up by the strength of the shows presentation, which, while not stylistically inventive, is clean and consistent. Only rarely does the art feel like it needs a quality check, and the stylistic choice of highlighting hair in this series is actually notable and a great effect. Additionally, the sound design really has no weak points. The voice acting is absolutely godlike across the board. Several good tracks that are always used properly. Hell, the series can even sell a horror scene.
No series is perfect, and while Sora Yori really has no glaring weak points, it could still be improved in a few ways. (1) The big drama moments are pulling like a .700 batting average for me. Certainly good, but the worst thing about dramas is when the big moments don’t stick the landing. (2) Having a new point of drama every episode is a little exhausting, especially since it feels like the show is at its best when indexing into comedy. (3) The side characters are tough to keep track of and uninteresting, which is fine. I don’t even know if the series is worse off for that fact, since this is sort of how side characters are in real life. To me, the complaints don’t really mean a whole lot. The series just doesn’t need these attributes to be wildly successful, and as a result, I think Sora Yori makes a great contender for anime of the season.
[Pros & Cons]
[+++] The girls are great!
[+++] Voice acting is superb, especially on main characters.
[++] Comedy execution and writing hits the mark again and again.
[+] Standard but solid sound design.
[+] Strong visuals that rarely flub. Minor stylistic choices that pay off and create a unique presentation.
[+] Story does a great job highlighting the personality and background differences between the main characters.
[=] Side characters generally hard to balance and uninteresting.
//I just wanted to say that this is my first ever review on MAL and I really felt the urge to discuss the greatness of this Anime.//
//Spoiler Free (As much as possible)//
Never judge a book by its cover, is something I'm trying to get over because this happens most of the time, we judge everything based on first impressions. Because of my quick judgment of the cover, I also failed to figure out the English translation of the title, "A Place Further Than The Universe", which certainly does sound like an interesting adventure title. During its time of airing, I put off this masterpiece
because of the cover image, which looked like your typical Shojo/Slice of Life Anime with high school girls doing fun things. Oh was I wrong! Well, not entirely because this WAS a fun Slice of Life Anime with high school girls doing EXTREMELY fun stuff. Going to Antarctica.
The story starts off with four high school girls who are total strangers and have problems that are related to one another. In the first few episodes, these problems were presented and used to connect these characters together, to build a friendship based on related problems, and to have an end goal of going to Antarctica, which satisfied all of their problems in the end. I won't be diving into these problems in the story aspect of Yorimoi but rather, the characters aspect. During the journey of preparing and going to Antarctica, they're faced with many problems in between that are usually resolved within each episode, but in the end, it creates the atmosphere of resolution and serves to strengthen their friendship. When the girls finally arrive in Antarctica, they were able to experience “A Place Further Than The Universe”, an entirely new experience, the things they’ve learned for the first time, seeing the distinctive scenery, creating and experiencing friendship throughout a journey. You feel like you’re experiencing the journey and feeling their emotions with them.
Overall, the story is very unique, emotional, and adventurous to the max! I feel that adventure animes are either being buried by shonen animes or we just don’t see enough adventure animes that can make you feel some type of way, the way this anime makes me feel, relatable and connected to the characters.
Honestly, nothing too much to say about the visuals except that it is phenomenal. I mean, it's Studio Madhouse. They never cease to amaze me with the direction of their animes, including their art and music, which were always perfectly timed for an epic experience. Most of my, and probably a lot others’, favorite anime are produced by Studio Madhouse. After finishing the series, I saw in some forums and comments that the Syowa Station was actually a real thing and was linked to google maps, where I was able to view a 3D image of Showa Station and their ship, Icebreaker Shirase, in real life, they were strikingly similar. The visuals of Antarctica was definitely something new for us anime watchers since we don’t see a lot of animes take place in Antarctica. Overall, beautiful.
Although the soundtrack wasn’t anything special, I believe the direction of the OST was what made the sound as impactful as it was throughout Yorimoi. At first, I didn’t find the opening, “The Girls Are Alright”, to be anything special. As time went on though, I found it ‘Alright’ then started to find it catchy and by the end, I felt something every time this OP played. Now every time I listen to this OP, I feel happy and remember the great experience I had with Yorimoi, it's very connecting. The ED was always emotional for me and I feel it is largely due to the fact it is sung by the four main characters. Also, each, if not most, episode ends with a happy, resolved ending and when the ED comes up, it just hits you hard in the feels. As for the OST, the great timing of the legendary OST at the right time—Legendary. Every time an emotional scene comes up, the sad music makes it way more emotional. When they’re enjoying their time with each other or a problem is resolved, the happy and inspirational OST kicks in. Every time this happened, I was on the brink of shedding so many tears. Actually, many tears were shedded ;_;. Overall, I think the soundtrack and the timing were extremely essential to my Yorimoi experience.
Characters (10/10): //Might be spoiler-ish//
I’m going to start off by saying that all four of the main characters are very relatable. Their problems are of what regular people would have. The first girl that shows first screen time was Tamaki Mari. She’s a typical high school student who has a typical problem: wanting to make the most of her youth but doesn’t act upon their wants. She feels as if she hasn’t done anything impactful in her life and now that she is in high school, Mari feels must do something before its too late but she is indecisive. Relatable. The second girl that shows up is Kobuchizawa Shirase. Shirase was the initial girl to want to travel to Antarctica, in hopes to find her Mother and say “In your faces!” to all the haters who told her it was impossible for a high school girl to travel to Antarctica. All in all, she is the type that doesn’t like to give up, stubborn, and likes to rash on haters lol but is very passionate. Relatable. Miyake Hinata, the third girl, caught wind of Mari and Shirase’s trip to Antarctica and asked if she could join their journey. Out of all of the characters, she was the most confusing for me, I’m not sure why. However, her problem was that she was essentially thrown under the bus by her friends at school so she quit school, wanting to be alone, and started working at a convenient store. Relatable. The last girl, Shiraishi Yuzuki, is an idol who doesn’t have real friends, due to the overload of work as an idol, leading her to not understand friendship. Semi-Relatable. They all first come together with a similar problem: Antarctica. Yuzu, being forced to go but Mari, Shirase, and Hinata want to go, but cannot. The girls find a way that satisfies their problems and end up going together on this beautiful journey. As the story goes on, each of their problems is slowly being resolved and their friendship becoming stronger as they help each other through tough situations. Overall, characters are so unique and relatable. They all have different problems that they work out in the end. Beautiful.
Yorimoi was such a great adventure and had such a blast experiencing their journey to Antarctica. It showed how the characters had many problems when experiencing something new, something totally different, and how they learned from it and overcome the many problems they experience throughout the process. But in the end, after all these problems, these hardships, they build friendship. They have fun, they experience something new, something memorable that they can look back to just like how we would look back to Yorimoi and think: “Wow, I would love to have my own adventure with people I enjoy being with”. This taught me, through Mari’s eyes, that if you want to do something, if you want to make the most of your youth, act now. Do something extreme. Something you don’t do, either from fear, laziness, or time. Like adventuring. Like Antarctica.
Overall, 9.6. Such a great anime that I wanted to write my first review on. I hope you enjoyed reading this review. Feedback is greatly appreciated. (Too much spoiler? More summary? More Story? etc.) I look forward to doing more reviews on great animes like Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho!!
It’s 2018 and slice of life series still tends to be overlooked these days when compared to bigger and more hyped titles by more famed studios. Series like Mitsuboshi Colors, Hakumei to Mikochi, and Sanrio Danshi probably slipped right past people’s radars. As one of the first series to debut this year, Sora yi no Toori Bashio (A Place Further than Universe) had to set the bar high. To my surprise and great pleasure, this show went right over the bar and became a beautiful coming age of story to tell.
Announced from Anime Expo 2017, this original anime is about a journey. It’s a journey
of discovery and taking personal stakes with them. I’m honestly impressed by how such a simple show can be so inspirational and realistic. The essence of this show comes not from the destination but the journey. It’s a show with a strong circle of characters of diverse personalities that I can’t help but fall in love with by the time the show ended.
To make this clear, this series isn’t just about cute girls doing cute things. It may look like it on paper but it’s much more than that. The lighthearted drama combined with the realism makes this show stand out through its themes. From the beginning, we meet the core characters with their own personalities. We also realize their own personal motivations for going to Antarctica. The main attraction for this show is the characterization as we learn so much about the cast. The way the creators made these characters are really worth investing time. That’s no understatement as we meet Shirase Kobuchizawa. As a senior high school student, she isn’t very talkative but has a strong mind to make her goal come true: find her mother. Believing her to be alive, it’s her main motivation to making the trip. To me, Shirase is a complex character who isn’t easy to make friends with. Throughout the show, she does open up to others but not before they understand her to a personal level. One of the person she connects closest with is Mari Tamaki, a girl with a curiosity about the world. My impression of Mari is that she is very normal and someone just about anyone can get along with. Plus, Mari is a relatable character in that she like to help others. This leads her to join the trip to Antarctica along with Hinata Miyake and Yuzuki Shirashi. Compared to Mari, Hinata is similar to her in personality with a dream of ace her college exams. On the other hand, Yuzuki is a girl who keeps her head cool and similar to Shirase, she isn’t easy to make friends with. However, the show develops her character as she changes and realizes the value of friendship. All of these characters join together and discover so much about each other. The show values each of these characters without favoring any particular one. Background stories are meaningful, personalities are believable, and these characters are all honestly very relatable. For me, that’s a fantastic way of getting viewers hooked.
While the storytelling may not be as strong as its character cast, it’s definitely not one to overlook either. Some people will call out the series on its pacing issues and I tend to somewhat agree. It takes a while for the characters to actual reach Antarctica. However, this series is one of those examples of ‘the journey is more important than the destination’. Tourism is important too as the characters will discover new things in their life. If you really have a problem with the pacing, then it’s best to turn back. The series rewards viewers for patience and it’s one that I can’t help but emphasize. Also, be aware that there’s drama in the story. While the series is very lighthearted, some episodes does involve the character cast get into arguments with their own personal reasons. Shirase and Yuzuki are the culprits of drama so expect them to add moments that can leave a different impression for different viewers. That being said, I don’t think it’s a drawback of the show at all. It adds more flavor to the series and honesty makes the overall show flow better.
Madhouse making a slice of life adventure? This hit me in the head like a dodgeball intended for someone else. Thankfully, the studio is able to impress with their effort through realism. Characters look real without any ridiculous characteristics and fits very well for each of their personalities. Their expressions are also meaningful depending on the situation whether it’s part of a dramatic angle, humorous segment, or emotional moment. However, the main selling factor of the visual quality is the outdoor sceneries. It’s both simple and complex. The different places these girls visit are real life locations and incredibly accurate. The visual quality itself also looks impactful especially with the case of Antarctica. The icy lands looks like a painting when watching this show and made me appreciate it that much more.
For a good character cast, a good voice casting crew is a must. This show accomplishes that with excellency and I never doubted them from the start. During emotional angles, characters are able to express their emotions that amplifies their personalities. Some of these moments are extremely memorable once you get invested into the characters. The theme songs are also underrated as it’s lighthearted but also beautifully made.
Taking a trip to Antarctica sounds like a life experience and for these girls, it became a journey of personal discovery. While it may not be a show to remember for its storytelling, it’s definitely one to take at heart once you fall in love with the characters. That’s not hard once you understand them and I am god damn grateful the show is made that way.
I generally like shows about cute girls doing cute things, but this one is special. I didn't think a show of this type could be so emotive and personally encouraging as this one, that makes me feel I have live my life to the fullest. Till then, only other type of shows could move me as much (e.g. BnHA).
Each of the main 4 characters has unique traits without being excessively steriotyped, and this create a really adorable dynamic between them. Support characters have a lot of personality as well, making them feel pretty alive.
Girls going on an adventure isn't really that surprising by itself, but
the coming of age aspect makes it feels so personal I couldn't not feel moved by that. At the same time, it's honestly fun, the jokes fit so naturally, not breaking the tension/seriousness some situations are, you could feel those would happen in real life.
This one of the few shows I'd recommend for any person, they liking or not this media. Even this season being full of good slice of life shows, this one is outstanding. Please, take your time and watch it.
Have you ever thought that life is meaningless?
That your entire life is mundane and ordinary?
That you are just going to be another person in a pool of 7 billion?
That is exactly the protagonist's thoughts until she decided she wanted to go out of the way and do something with her life. Through the wonderful coincidence of meeting someone that had the never-dying determination to pursue her mother's lost footsteps, the main protagonist, Mari decided that was it.
She wanted her life to be meaningful, she did not want to be ordinary, she wanted to be extraordinary.
This tear-jerking and adventure filled story about 4 young high
school girls trying to get to Antarctica for their respective reasons shows us just how much fun life can be if we make the most out of it. It brings out the wanderlust and motivation in you that would linger for months after watching this. The characters are all developed perfectly with each having their own unique reason for pursuing such a far fetched goal and OH the soundtracks the FREAKING sound tracks are WAY TOO GOOD! Every step of their journey be it an emotional filled episode or a more chill slice of life one, the sound track complements the anime perfectly.
The anime also had amazing and breathtaking art - allowing the same vast and white Antarctic ice that was shown almost every episode to still pull you in and immerse you into its own world. The stars were amazing, the auroras too and all these attention to detail even when the story was taking other turns was an absolute delight to watch.
This is not your normal CGDCT anime, do not go into it expecting a slice of life, all-girls cast merely passing your time on a lazy Sunday afternoon, this is something so much more as the anime starts calling out to you, inspiring you to want to strive to break through the chains of everyday modern life, to achieve something just like them. Watching this anime is just like embarking on a special journey, because like what Hinata said, "If you can still turn back, it's not really a journey. When you hit the point of no return, that's the moment it becomes a journey."
I have to admit this is that one show that have slipped under my radar when the season first started. I'm not a big fan of the Slice of Life genre, as it is just so easy to get those shows wrong (prime example being Musaigen no Phantom World) when shows in this genre have such light plots, so I was pleasantly surprised when Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further than the Universe) was not "just another CGDCT show that i'm probably going to forget in half a year or so".
For shut-in otakus like most of us here on MAL,
this show essentially breathes life into us because friendship is everything. One can be reminded of the friendships we have come across when watching Sora Yori. The best part of this is that the show's elements feel real too. Everything about the show is believable from Shirase acting the way she is after losing her mother to the elements of Antarctica. Most of us here has want to do something out of the ordinary; have a once in a lifetime experience. Because of this stage in our lives we have all gone through, Madhouse has done a great job at making this show relatable by reiterating this point we have all gone through in our lives through the main cast of Sora Yori.
Sure, Sora Yori is a CGDCT show but it also manages to be so much more at the same time. The story is arguably it's weakest point of the show. There are so much shows out there that beat Sora Yori in terms of plot. By no means is this bad though, as Sora Yori's cast single-handedly carried the show above and beyond the status quo of SoL. Watching this really made me feel like I was experiencing the journey to Antarctica without boring me out, and I loved every second of it.
Characters in an anime can make or break a show, no matter how good the plot may be. Most of the time an anime only has one or two good characters, but Sora Yori has an entire line-up of great characters. With a great cast led by an all-star team of VA's, Sora Yori went from a mediocre plot into an outstanding story. Never before have I seen main characters that just fit so well together; Hinata, Shirase, Yuzuki, and Mari are a prime example of what friendship goals should be. And instead of being clueless characters whose only purpose is to provide plot points, Sora Yori's supporting characters all have ample screen time to develop into dynamic characters that strengthen the core cast.
Spring 2018 is a season with many popular and great anime, and it saddens me that the show only has 70k MAL members at the time of this review. Madhouse has truly stepped their game up with this title, and really now Sora Yori has impressed me and it has far exceeded my expectations. This show pretty much just came into the ring and TKO'd all the other Spring 2018 shows for AOTS. Anime of the season by a long shot.
Good plot, strengthened by great characters led by all-stars in the VA industry, with great Madhouse art. Like seriously, watch this show.
Character: 10 (wish I could give more)
This is not only the best anime of Winter 2018, which already imo was a really strong season, but it's one of my favorite anime series ever now. This series is not only an argument for the best things anime can do as a medium, but a full refutation of the idea that "cute girls doing cute things" is somehow a lesser form of the medium. This series is as inspiring, as heart-wrenching, as memorable, and as affecting as any of the most beloved anime series, and the team behind it deserve true kudos for indeed going on their own Impossible Journey and risking so
much on an original series. Truly amazing and inspiring.
Story: The journey the four main characters undergo is nothing short of epic. I truly pity those who did not get the chance to follow this series week by week and instead will watch it all at once, because it is breathtaking how far in thirteen episodes these girls go. I immediately thought of K-On when watching this series because the premise is similar except you can replace "playing at the Budokan" with "making it to Antarctica." Each one of the four has very, very different reasons for going and are quite unique in their own ways too, just like K-On. If you've seen that series, you will then expect that the Sora Yori girls' journey is more about their friendship and less about the end goal. And yet, what is truly brilliant is that the series seems to acknowledge that, and there is such incredible emotional payoff from the events of the story as a result. If there is any flaw in the story, it's only that 13 episodes feels like slightly too few to appreciate the series' resolution, but even then the creators brilliantly manage the time they have and balance individual character development, the final goal, spending time with the full cast, and celebrating the girls' friendship absolutely perfectly. 9/10
Art: The backgrounds and the scenery alone elevate this series' art to top-tier status. From the natural scenery, to the skylines of international cities, to the girls' hometown, to Shinjuku, to the grandeur of human scientific accomplishment, there is love and effort oozing out of every shot. It is nearly overwhelming how gorgeous the settings are, yet of course it complements the grand tone and scale of the adventure. You want to see the world after watching this series, just like these girls did. And yet it is the faces of the characters that I love the most - every one of them is full of joy, of hope, of anxiety, of weariness, of sadness, and ultimately pride in what they have accomplished. 10/10
Sound: While it doesn't stick out as much as the visuals, the sound and especially the soundtrack are absolutely incredible in their own right. The ED in particular brings tears to my eyes every time, because it balances the bittersweet and the joyous tone of the series so well. The sounds of the landscapes also stand out because at certain points they are also overwhelming as much as the visuals. 9/10
Character: Once again the comparison to K-On is unavoidable and yet somehow this series found a way to surpass that cast in how incredible these four main girls are. They all start with a ton of charm yet ample flaws, and yet at the end they themselves show through both word and action how much they have matured and grown. Mari is the same silly, ever-hopeful girl as she started but she becomes both fearless and compassionate for everyone, especially her best friends. Yuzu is still sweet and kind but has opened up and gained a confidence and even a sassy side as she truly trusts her new best friends. Hinata is still easy-going, energetic, and hard-working but no longer feels the need to hide her problems and emotions from everyone else. And Shirase, my favorite of the four and truly one of Kana Hanazawa's best roles yet, has grown the most. She is no longer stuck in a constant emotional limbo and bottled-up anger she starts with and feels familiar to many people including me, but she reaches her goal and looks forward to the hope of her and everyone else's future, not the past. She has moved beyond only caring about her own pain and fear to go out of her way to help and support her friends completely, the way they do for her. Even the side characters are all wonderful, and they are also changed by how infectious the four's tenacity and openness to the new and unfamiliar. 10/10
Enjoyment: The winter season always has a lot of shows about cute girls and daily-life-based stories compared to the rest of the year, but while many of those other series specialize in humor or emotion, Sora Yori somehow perfectly manages to handle both. Even more importantly, I don't think I've ever watched an anime as inspiring to convince the viewer to take the step of changing their lives as much as this. Gurren Lagann may be a strange comparison, but both of these series fundamentally seek to empower the audience in very different ways. For all of the grand speeches and epic action, I felt more inspired to seize the day and step outside my comfort zone thanks to this series. They do this by grounding very familar problems and characters and then showing *and* telling about how they overcome their fears and anxieties. It's absolutely wonderful. As cliche as it is, I laughed, I cried, and I loved every minute of this show. 10/10
Overall: I truly hope word of mouth makes this show recognized more because this show is criminally underwatched and underappreciated. I don't know how much more you can say than whether we get more or this series or not (to be honest I kind of hope not because it's wrapped up so well), this show is an instant classic. I can truly say that I would recommend this series to *anyone* and *everyone.* 10/10
Banana’s as hammers, deadly bonding exercises, and enough tears to melt the polar icecaps, A Place Further Than the Universe has a lot to say. A girl’s trip across the globe to come to terms with a dead family member to lighthearted banter in a tent as the wind whips against the fabric. Smiles that drip emotion, and the concept of having friends. The reaction of leaving a friend behind, and the feeling of melancholy as you stare into the night sky. If life’s a bitch, you better do what you can to woo her.
Universe is a series about friendship. The writers make that
clear almost immediately and that bus does not stop rolling until the credits do. Every episode focuses specifically on different kinds of relate-able problems a group of newly bonded people may go through. From clashing personalities to tepidness to forcing one another to evolve in some way. It is a friendship of good, as Aristotle would say. The friendships that bloom here are oriented around each person bringing out the best qualities from one another as well as teaching each other new ways of being good people. This stems from equal ethical grounds.
If you know anything about my reviews then you would probably know that stories about friendships are incredible near and dear to me. I relate to them more than just about any other narrative archetype, and thankfully this show does it very well, even if it does hit a few icebergs along the way. There are endearing characters mixed in with some genuinely subtle developments that occasionally get lapsed by hammy insert songs that do nothing but detract from the overall emotions that are trying to be presented. While subtlety in character expression is in spades, there is virtually no subtlety to be had in character emotion. Specifically, characters introducing their emotions to people. Tears flow like angry waves crashing against the shores of unsuspecting viewers. You either buy it or you don’t. Or, like me, you are in an awkward place in the middle fidgeting uncomfortably as one scene lasts just slightly long enough to become something I would call saccharine and melodramatic. Universe doesn’t hold back, and when the writers rev up the emotional ballistae get ready for the armoured defences of your heart to either crumble like sandcastles, or, in some cases, become calcified from the constant barrage.
What can I say? It’s good. Actually, scratch that, it’s pretty damn great. Specifically, the animation. I was never a huge Madhouse fan as I felt like they lack a cohesive style I can attach myself to, but man-o-man are there moments here of solid presentation that stick with you. The animation is solid throughout with a distinct style that I slowly fell in love with as the series progressed. Now I wouldn’t call the directing exceptional, I will, however, call it solid. Atsuko Ishuzika gets two big thumbs up from me, especially since she as responsible for No Game No Life which I, well, hated. She rebounded like a warmed-up squash ball and hit me right in the pecker with some imaginative sequences that brought new life to my cynical, shrivelled soul.
Now don’t expect shot composition that you haven’t seen before because this anime is very much like the other dramas that you’ll see in that regard. We get the usual flair of profile shots with tears rolling down cheeks and the classic oh-so-lovely low-angles that these kinds of series seem to latch onto like a baby to a tit. While those dramatic elements aren’t shining, the editing for comedy does. To my surprise, this series is quite funny and not in the endearing “oh it’s cute” kind of funny, but rather the hearty belly-laugh-on-occasion kind of funny. That can be chocked up to solid animation, editing, and a clear care for comedic timing that is just impossible to find in some anime.
There is quite a bit of CG work here and I will gladly say that it isn’t bad at all. Some of the ship shots are pretty great and give me an immediate Titanic vibe. The cars can look a bit synthetic but thankfully they aren’t prevalent throughout the majority of the series. Some of the shots looking over the landscape look spectacular as well, and there is a very interesting realism to the close-up shots on objects.
The music is no slouch, either. It’s far from that lanky kid that wants so badly to play dodgeball with you but ends up getting his ribs shattered by a good throw from Rex, the muscular kid failing Algebra. The opening, which is animated spectacularly, also features a decent pop track, although I can’t help but feel as though it blends in with the other anime songs of its ilk. The background tracks during this series are strong, though. Universe seems to really love its insert songs because these few tracks are almost played on repeat from episode to episode, but more on that later. Overall, the music here is solid, especially the catchy ED which I found myself watching constantly because the series can’t help but include a post credit scene.
[Story, Characters, and Cute Girls Doing Surprisingly Serious Things]
Want a way to get your stomach pumped? Take a few bottles of Smirnoff, grab a shot class, plop down at your desk and begin scrolling through the reviews of this series. For every sentence that reads vaguely like “I’m not usually a fan of Slice of Life/Cute girls doing cute things shows but…” take a shot. Don’t blame me if you can’t stand up after a few minutes.
A Place Further Than the Universe isn’t a slice of life show. More importantly, it’d be hard to even call it a “Cute girls doing cute things” … show. Which is a dumb label to begin with, but so be it. This is because it is very clearly a drama. These aren’t girls doing cute things. Well, sometimes they are, but the majority of the series we get a stream of drama mixed in with growing relationships which results in endearing character dialogue. Almost every single scene within this series is focused on building up conflict and eventually resolving that conflict. Even the scenes that feel somewhat pointless and only there to either be comedic or just cute, these cuts often end up becoming useful to understanding the characters. That’s kind of why the CGDCT label is so stupid. A good series knows how to implement every scene well enough that it grows your attachment to the characters involved and ultimately doesn’t just come off as a cynical cash grab to lonely boys who want to feel attached to cutesy female archetypes.
Let me break it down, though. Kimari, our protagonist, is a peppy girl who regrets not really doing anything with her life. Especially as she begins rounding out her years in high school. She wants to do something memorable. By crazy circumstance, she runs into Shirase, a taller, emotional, yet reserved girl who is saving money to go to the Antarctic because that is where her mother died three years ago. She clearly has some unresolved issues regarding her mother’s passing and I think that it is handled with care, nuance, and beyond all else, realism. Then we begin running into the other two girls that join them. The utterly impossible-not-to-love Hinata, who is energetic, short, and not attending school. For reasons I won’t spoil, she gets the most subtle and well-delivered arc in the series. Lastly, we have their “in” for Antarctica, Yuzuki, who is a child actress that has an unfortunately rigorous schedule preventing her from making friends or acclimating to high school life.
Through these circumstances they band together and decide to go to Antarctica. Every character’s motivation is exposited within the first four episodes. We understand why they are doing what they are doing. From then on, we get very specific looks at each character’s experiences. Not only on the trip, but on their journey as people. We learn more about those motivations and what drives them. This is good, blunt, and focused characterization that I don’t get to see enough of in anime. As I said, Hinata specifically gets an incredible subtle arc that culminates in immense satisfaction due to the subtlety of its introduction early on in the series. Universe is presented through the eyes of Kimari, however, she is not the main protagonist. That honor goes to Shirase, which is understandable since her arc is not only the most emotionally resonant as a concept, but it is ultimately why they are going to the Antarctic of all places.
There is also some clever subversion with archetypes going on within the series as well. The generic “cutesy” girl, Yuzuki, almost instantly reveals her hatred that kind of aesthetic. The reserved one has explosive emotions and attachments. The overly-excitable one, Hinata, is actually the wisest and, hilariously, dishes out some of the most memorable quotes in the entire series.
The first aspect you’ll notice, I think, about the characters is that the voice acting here is spectacular. It took me a bit to realize just how decked the voice cast is and this show uses them so well. Every voice actress seems attached to her role and it creates for engaging performances. This continues to the secondary’s that they meet along the way, especially Shirase’s mother’s friends who become big players later on in the series. Gin, the deceased mother’s best friend, is a highlight and her arc is not only devastating to people who have lost dear friends, but her subdued performance is a perfect contrast to the occasionally childish emotions experienced by the main four girls.
Universe, as I’ve mentioned, really loves its insert songs. This is where we run into the biggest issue with the series and something I could easily see turning people off. Every episode ends on an emotional stinger. Every. Episode. That means that even when it can feel somewhat unnecessary, we get blaring Japanese vocals shoved down our throats like hotdogs at a state fair. We gluttonously devour these inserts, whether we want to or not. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who felt consistently turned off by just how cloying a lot of these moments felt and when the series actually did build up to a bombastic emotional eruption, my receptors, if you will, were already dulled from the previous episodes where those moments didn’t feel earned or even necessary.
We go from a scene of them running around and seeing waves getting this huge, saccharine insert song to that same damn song being used for a truly powerful stinger at the end of, let’s say, episode twelve which will leave many unprepared viewers utterly bawling their eyes out. I don’t get why they chose to do this. These emotional stingers need to be used sparingly. Not every episode. The writers seemed to have prioritized quantity over quality when it comes to emotional moments and it occasionally makes for a numbing experience when you watch these girls start crying in each other’s arms over the most random, senseless shit. I get that they are young and emotional, but damn, relax.
This show has some pulpy elements because of this infatuation with the saccharine. You either like it or you don’t. I could usually sit through these moments because I developed a frightening, almost immediate attachment to these characters, but if you don’t then these scenes might honestly break the series for you. I’m happy to say that not a single one them is weak as a character in any way. We get so many loveable and relate-able character moments from the cast. The melodrama can be obnoxious, but it is far from unbearable on most occasions.
The series ends on a decently high note. As in, it’s very saccharine and feel-good, even if there is some bitter-sweetness to the departure. We, as viewers, are assured these girls will stay in contact and there is even a fun little tease at the end for possibly more adventures. I know for sure that I’ll be on the lookout for more of these girls.
Yeah, so the series is great. A Place Further Than the Universe is corny and saccharine but it gets you so latched onto these four girls that you just don’t want to let go. I was almost immediately with them on the journey, right there on the train, plane, boat, and snow. While the focus on cloying emotions can often feel forced or even pandering, when the series wants to nail the climax it really, really nails the climax. If you view yourself as someone who cries often over television then you should watch this series with some napkins. Later on, especially, there are some surprisingly powerful moments that pick-axed their way to even the coldest hearts such as my own.
If you’ve read my reviews then you’d know that I’m a huge sucker for friendship stories. They always seem to resonate with me more than romance or revenge or any other kind of narrative archetype. Friendships seem so close in the least artificial way possible. To create a true connection between people, especially one that doesn’t rely on a sexual attraction takes a kind of nuance in the writing that so many writers simply can’t produce. When it’s done well, like here, you feel a kindred connection with them because friendship is so notoriously vague and hard to define as a concept. It’s just a connection. Mutual benefits. Loving being together. Learning from one another. While Universe’s outlook is undoubtedly expressive, for some it may even be overly expressive to the point where it becomes unbelievable. For me, personally, who’s experienced and continues to experience these kinds of bonds grow, I became fully engrossed within the narrative.
Pair that together with writing that ranges from good to exceptional and presentation that I can only say surprised me in how engaging it was, I think we have a series that is worth remembering. I call it like I see it. This is easily one of the better anime I’ve seen and clearly had so much passion behind it. I can see myself thinking about the series and raising the grade simply due to missing having these characters on screen. It wasn’t just the dynamic elements of having four people bounce off one another that was solid, or the fact that there was some pretty great character animation, it was the depth to which these characters are written which is truly surprising. They aren’t just a summation of traits, but rather a summation of experiences we saw, which makes their growth so much more endearing than it has any right to be.
A Place Further Than the Universe delivers what I can only call good character drama. Something rare in anime. Sure, there are a bunch of cute girls doing cute things sometimes, and sometimes doing funny things, and sometimes doing sad things, and hell, sometimes even doing nothing. Ain’t that just life? None of it struck me as cynical or corporate. I’ll leave off this already long review with my favorite quote from my favorite character, Hinata. It encapsulates the tone and ideals of this series perfectly.
“If you can still turn back, it’s not really a journey. When you hit the point of no return, that’s the moment it becomes a journey.”
“Water collects into stagnant pools. I’ve always loved watching it spill out all at once. Breaking free, liberated, rushing out. The energy stored up during its stagnation bursts forth. Everything springs into action!”
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further than the Universe) is an anime that can be easy to misjudge on the surface. One can look at the poster or the synopsis and write it off as just another anime about cute girls doing cute things. However, this anime is so much more than that, and I’m going to try my best to break it down and explain why I think
this anime is so good.
Reading the synopsis for this series, you might think that it all sounds unrealistic and far-fetched, and that’s because it is, and this show is well aware of that fact. They take an unrealistic circumstance that most of us couldn’t imagine finding ourselves in, and they immerse us into this story by turning it into something believable and something we can relate to.
This anime is first and foremost an adventure anime, and it does a fantastic job of capturing that spirit of adventure inside of your heart and it never lets go. The way that it sets up this adventure in the first few episodes and then builds off of it in the rest of the series is incredible. As you see the characters stagnating in their daily lives, until they break free, rush out, and spring into action! It gives you that courageous feeling to set out for your dreams and take them for yourself, no matter how out of reach those dreams may seem.
Aside from being an adventure this anime also has elements of comedy and drama interspersed throughout. The comedy elements of this anime had me laughing out loud, and the dramatic elements had me in tears. This anime will have you laughing and crying in the same episode as it blends together its comedy and drama so well without ever feeling forced or that one element was undercutting the other. The pacing of this story felt perfect for me. It was able to move quickly without feeling rushed, and it took it’s time during the drama without feeling like it was dragging.
One of the main reasons the elements of this anime blend so well together is because the writing in this is great. And I feel that the writing is best showcased in the way that this anime portrays its characters. It might sound silly at first, but all four of these girls are written and depicted so realistically that I never had the feeling that they were characters in an anime. The chemistry between the four main characters is an absolute joy to watch as they discover things about themselves and each other and find the true meaning behind their friendship. Their backstories are beautifully interwoven into the main plot to set up their motivations for wanting to go on this journey, without feeling overly melodramatic or tacked on. This causes me to empathize with these characters so much and relate to them even while they’re doing things that I’ve never done, and they never stop feeling like real people even while they’re living their lives in such unrealistic ways. I could talk about each individual character for a long while, because all four of them are worth going into detail about, but for the sake of avoiding any kind of spoilers I’ll refrain myself. It’s also worth noting that the actresses that played these characters all did very excellent jobs and each of them fit their roles perfectly.
Next is the animation and art, which is simply stunning in this anime. Some of the shots in this series were breathtaking where I had to pause just to take it all in. The character designs look simple, without looking boring or lacking, and the animation is very smooth and fluid throughout the show. To give an example, there is a scene in the second episode where the characters are sprinting full speed through a city at night and the entire scene simply looks amazing. The fluidity in the animation as the characters are running, placed against the gorgeous backdrop of the nightlights of Kabukicho, and then paired with the beautiful OST made this scene very memorable for me.
I have heard a few complaints about the OST of this anime and while they are not without merit, I still think that it’s great overall. At its best, the music is able to evoke such strong emotions out of the viewer, whether it be grinning from ear to ear or crying your eyes out.
At its worst, there were a few moments where I felt that the music was a little overbearing, and that it was trying to tell me how to feel, rather than letting me feel for myself. However, this was a rare occurrence. As this only happened once or twice, and it’s highly possible that it’s simply just me, it wasn’t a big hindrance. Another complaint that I have is that I felt that there were a few side characters that didn’t get as fleshed out as I thought they should’ve, and a few side stories that I felt should’ve had more meaning or impact.
Is this anime perfect? Certainly not. These are simply my opinions and the way that I felt about the show, and despite its very minor flaws, I enjoyed it to the fullest. The writing, direction, the soundtrack, the characters, and the animation all come together in this anime to bring something truly worthwhile to the table. So please, if you’re unsure about giving this anime a chance, I implore you to give it a shot. I feel that you might like this anime just as much as I did, and you won’t be disappointed by going on an adventure of your own with this anime. It will make you feel like springing into action and going on an adventure, even if the adventure you want to go on seems completely out of reach, or even if it feels like it’s in a place further than the universe.
I've always enjoyed a adventure story where friendship and complete determination to achieve a supposedly impossible play well in hand. This anime so far are portrayed that perfectly and it leads to a promising delivery when the girls finally arrive in Antarctica.
WHAT WE'VE SEEN SO FAR
The four main girls of this show remind me a lot of the four girls in K-ON! In fact, you could say that some are more eccentric while others are the opposites of the K-ON girls. Mari and Hinata are practically an upgraded version of Yui and Ritsu while Shirase and Yuzuki are more or less brooding versions Mio
and Tsumugi. Then of course we have Mari's sister Rin who's pretty much her own version of Yui's younger sister Ui and then there's the glasses-wearing Nodoko version of Mari's classmate Megumi.
What I like about these characters is that each girl has their own reasons for going on this journey to Antarctica. Mari wants to do something memorable in her high school life before it's too late. Hinata wants to go because why not? Yuzuki is going partly because of her celebrity status but mainly because this is a perfect opportunity to make real friends, something she's never had before. And lastly we have Shirase, who's going to Antarctica in hopes of finding her mother who was lost there in the last expedition. The series shows a lot promise in what will happen when and if Shirase's mother is found.
The art is also something to take into account. The studio so far has done an outstanding job in the art department with both the character designs and the backgrounds. I will go as far as saying that it's almost enough to rival some of Studio Ghibli's films. It's quite amazing especially when you consider that Madhouse is also producing new seasons for both Cardcaptor Sakura and Overlord.
WHAT I HOPE TO SEE FROM HERE
Pretty much more of what we've seen already but with the girls going and having their adventure in Antarctica. I think we can all agree that there's no hope that Shirase's mother survived but if she somehow has, it will be a really amazing plot twist. I'm also curious to see what Shirase's and Gin Toudou interactions will be. It's very clear that Shirase shares some animosity towards Toudou seeing how she was the one to return and not her mother.
WHAT I DON'T WANT TO SEE
The closing shot of the post credits last episode showed Megumi having a difficult moment. This more often than not puts up a red flag for me. While I can understand the character's feeling stuff like this has a tendency not just to create unnecessary drama but ends up slowing the story down significantly. Hopefully we won't see that happen. I also don't want to see the girls forgetting the reason why they came to Antarctica and the series descending into a filler filled slice of life type of show.
As of now, A Place Further Than The Universe has the potential to be one of the best anime of the season and perhaps one of the best of the year.
How would I describe this anime in 5 words? Realistic. Hilarious. Dramatic. Journey. Incredible.
It's amazing how one place, Antarctica, while being desolate, barren, and harboring little variety of life forms, has the potential to unite 4 school girls who seemingly had nothing in common, to fulfill a common and yet tough objective: Find who they are and challenge their characters' limits, right before a crucial moment of their life, adulthood.
A cast consisting of only females might remind you of some other anime in the context of "cute girls doing cute things" but I can assure you, that as far as I'm concerned, this anime is
unique. This journey is an epic one and for sure isn't going to be easy for our girls. But let's take a better look at them.
The strength of this anime's writing lies in the chemistry these 4 girls have. Reading the synopsis, one cannot imagine how they'd fit together and succeed in their journey. Mari is your typical high school girl. Shirase is energetic, almost bombastic and sometimes acts or speaks before she thinks. Yuzuki is polite, and not too talkative. Hinata is very curious and often strange, but smart. And yet, it's exactly the differences in their backgrounds and personalities that somehow offer an outstanding experience to the viewer. The anime is full of hilarious conversations and exchanges between the girls, never ceasing to deliver interesting dialogue. From small wordplay to visual gags, you're guaranteed to laugh a lot. The comedy is well balanced by a healthy amount of drama which to me didn't feel forced at all and was pretty much a given, considering the nature of the adventure. By the end of their journey, every single character will be polished and have received a respectable amount of development, especially in respect to the number of episodes. It's a given that you'll find at least one girl relatable, because their personalities are pretty much the definition of "plausible".
Speaking of the journey, it's amazing how realistic it is. After searching a bit, I found out that the production team took actual photos from inside the expedition ship as a reference and interviewed crew members regarding the living conditions and the various tasks they have. And it shows: There's not a moment in the anime where you feel like you're watching something other than four 17 year old girls trying to reach Antarctica. Their bodies as well as their minds are constantly challenged. Life on the ship is hard, and so is getting accustomed to Antarctica.
As for the art, I adored it, every single character was well drawn, the ship and its interiors have an incredible amount of detail, and Antarctica was realistic enough for me. The OST is incredible as well. I never skipped the opening or the ending song, and the fitting insert songs were used in such tense or dramatic moments, I was on the verge of tears. The ending song in particular fills you with energy and happiness, and its lyrics (somewhat of a rarity) fit almost 100% with setting and the content of the anime. It has become one of my favorite songs.
I also want to point out that the anime is very well animated. Madhouse is known for the quality of its animation, but they outdid themselves in this project. This is apparent during the running scenes where the motion looks really fluid.
At a glance:
Overall, I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed watching this anime. It instantly landed right on my favorites list. It's an epic journey full of encouraging messages and vibes which are invaluable to me and really aided me emotionally. Guaranteed, this won't hold true for everyone, but I felt like I had to point it out. After all, a review is meant to provide a personal take on an anime, and I hope this small wall of text will help someone in deciding whether to watch this masterpiece or not.
As a final statement: Think of Antarctica as not the objective per se, but rather the means to achieve that objective. Now that I think of it, everyone has their own "Antarctica" they want to reach, just like Mari, Shirase, Hinata and Yuzuki had their own reasons to go there. Antarctica meant something different to each one of them. So.. what's keeping you back? Work on conquering your own "Antarctica" like these 4 fantastic girls did!