“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) is a story that surrounds four girls journey to Antarctica. The plot is nothing special, but the journey nevertheless is inspirational. The build-up to this adventure is perfectly suspenseful. The watcher is wondering if they will truly be
able to board this massive ice breaker, and make their way down to this freezing neverland. Each of the main characters has their own reason for wanting to go on this trip, and destiny has brought them all together.
The characters are the highlight of this show, from the main characters to the side characters. Shirase wants to go to Antarctica because her mother went missing there 10 years ago. You get to see her transformation from a girl closed off from society because of the loss of her mother, and blossom into a fiery woman ready to take the world by storm. I loved the dialogue between Shirase and Gin, her mothers best friend and the captain when the expedition 10 years ago went wrong. I was so happy that this anime did not try to go for the emotional mother-daughter reunion because that would have been unrealistic. The fact of the matter is her mother has been alone in Antarctica for 10 years, and unfortunately she is dead.
The main themes of this anime are friendship, and perseverance. You get to see the different interactions the four girls have with each other separately, and the bonds formed throughout this journey. Together they are able to strengthen their resiliency, something each of them lacked, because they had each other to lean on. The character development this anime is able to portray in only 13 episodes is completely outstanding!
The amazing art and sound of this anime is also comparable to the beautifully-written characters. The OST and ending are great soundtracks that represent this anime superbly! The music by Saya that plays when Shirase finds her mother's computer, and the emails start flooding in, is one of the most tear-jerking scenes I have ever witnessed in an anime. Beautifully captivating!
The animation from Madhouse never disappoints either. One of the final scenes, as the four girls lay on the deck of the ice breaker staring into the sky watching the aurora australis, is so magnificently animated. Then you add on top of that, the final outbox message from Shirase's mother to her stating "the real thing is ten thousand times more beautiful". I can not say enough good things about this anime!
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) is an anime that has many interpretations depending on which character you choose to follow. Shirase knew from the very beginning of this anime that her mother was no longer alive, yet she had the resolve to find closure. Mari showed that you have to get out of your shell. When you do, the sights and adventures you have are not terrifying at all, rather they are amazing memories to cherish. Hinata displayed that you should never begrudge yourself with past failures, and always keep taking steps to move forward. Lastly, Yuzuki found that money and fame does not bring happiness. Memories created with family and friends is what life is truly about!
Happiness is only real when shared. - Christopher McCandless (Into The Wild)
Overall, this is one of the best slice of life anime there is to watch. It is an emotional roller-coaster, and you're going to love journey!