Jan 3, 2018
Postmodern (All reviews)
I'll begin by stating my strongest gripe: the show feels disjointed due to the abrupt way it cuts the scenes and how little time is dedicated to deal with certain problems within the story. My guess is that they were trying to create this monotony that most people experience in their daily lives. It makes sense considering the show is a sort of "mundane" approach on the issue of living under bombing raids and military pressure. Still, everytime a work attempts to present a lighthearted atmosphere in the middle of such overall grim situation, I can't forgive but to think it's limiting itself by not adopting a solid stand. See, there's nothing wrong in trying to convey this contrast between innocence and cruelty, but trying to force that by moving from one moment to another without a time to breathe isn't quite rewarding. An example of that done right would be Hotaru no Haka, which regardless of how emotionally intrusive or morally ambiguous you consider it to be, is masterfully directed and avoids major discomfort regarding pacing by simply not suddenly changing the mood of everything just to convey the banality and mundanity of sordid events.

Aesthetically speaking, my only gripes are how the character design seems marshmallowed and doesn't fit with whatever mood the show was trying to convey. At first, I found it to be overall pleasing and cute, but as soon I realized it was confusing me on whether I should be relaxed or tense, it began to bother me. Aside from that, it's overall gorgeous with a unique touch of visual realism that's always welcome in any war drama. The backgrounds are detailed and cozy, rich in colors and identity, vivid and with an endearing picture book-esque look. There are also several angles only properly done through aerial photography, which again denotes the commitment to realism where it's due. It's simply undeniable the amount of care put into it. The animation is fluid enough, though I believe it wasn't the focus as more often than not it's obvious they want you to pay attention to the scenery instead of how things move. However, once the bombings take place, the animation reaches its peak and realistically depicts war explosions battering the screen in a manner that I doubt has ever been so accurate in anime medium.

I won't lie, the protagonist's voice doesn't fit, but it's still a great voice. It doesn't fit due to the cartoonish look that is like seeing a little girl talking like an adult. I appreciate how natural the voices sound; in contrast to the artificial screeches that exist within the medium, the voices are closer to what real people sound like. Odd as it may seem to have a new type of voice to be your main character, it is these little actions that diversify the search for new talents and different approaches in the industry, thus, commendable.

Characterization-wise, it's obvious that the protagonist is the main focus. It's a coming of age depicting the development of a female character who faces several minor conflicts involving her family while dealing with the war and its outcome, and honestly, a lot is left to be desired. Most of the movie details a very generic situation: Suzu coming to acknowledge her own capabilities and trying to cease fire with her sister in law Keiko. The mundanity of events is way too clear, so much that it begins to beg for something more substantial to happen. Some major events like death and moments of extreme doubt are, unfortunately, rushed and not properly developed. It does not suffice to dedicate a mere few minutes to explore the regret, anger, and mourning involving an important and present character's death. In the end, Suzu doesn't really change beyond one would expect from the very beginning, as she doesn't draw a very innovative conclusion out of the whole picture the show provides to us. War is bad and we need to do our best. This is a rather common problem I perceive in most anime about war: they don't really do anything with the premise. It's interesting to explore different facets regarding a theme, but it's not actually leading anywhere. The mundanity of war isn't ambitious enough. Even then, its execution could have been superb if it wasn't rushed. This would give both the protagonist and the audience enough time to contemplate, feel, and think beyond the monotony she was trapped in but not necessarily brainwashed by. It'd be a lie to say that 90% of the film isn't simply Slice of Life in War. In itself, it's not a bad concept, but it requires extremely careful directing to hold an air of poignancy. It's possible to delve further into other characters, but I don't believe they're worth analyzing when they mainly just set a conflict with the protagonist or contribute to the lighthearted vibe that weaves throughout the movie. It is indeed a character-driven movie, but by a character who isn't very deep or interesting past what's presented from the beginning. She does change, but just a little and we are mostly presented to how she reacts and interacts with others rather than how those reactions and interactions change her through time, which in my opinion should be the focus in any character study sort of story (as in Ashita no Joe for example).

In the end, In this Corner of the World can be a very good movie depending on what you're expecting and planning to enjoy out of it. I can't stop thinking this is a "feels good" sort of anime and no matter what tragedy they tried to convey, it just didn't resonate with me at all. Maybe I had set the bar too high and got slightly disappointed, but my biggest gripes are without a doubt the pacing that's occasionally repulsive and the abrupt cuts that can annoy some viewers, myself included. I do believe the movie had a solid and genuine intent as an adaptation made with care and I do believe its execution, albeit flawed, manages to deliver enough to constitute itself as a worth watching piece of animation.