Filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder for the world around her, Mari Tamaki has always dreamt of what lies beyond the reaches of the universe. However, despite harboring such large aspirations on the inside, her fear of the unknown and anxiety over her own possible limitations have always held her back from chasing them. But now, in her second year of high school, Mari is more determined than ever to not let any more of her youth go to waste. Still, her fear continues to prevent her from taking that ambitious step forward—that is, until she has a chance encounter with a girl who has grand dreams of her own.
Spurred by her mother's disappearance, Shirase Kobuchizawa has been working hard to fund her trip to Antarctica. Despite facing doubt and ridicule from virtually everyone, Shirase is determined to embark on this expedition to search for her mother in a place further than the universe itself. Inspired by Shirase's resolve, Mari jumps at the chance to join her. Soon, their efforts attract the attention of the bubbly Hinata Miyake, who is eager to stand out, and Yuzuki Shiraishi, a polite girl from a high class background. Together, they set sail toward the frozen south.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho follows the captivating journey of four spirited girls, all in search of something great.
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.
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 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.
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.