“A happy family, where everyone smiles.”
From Sunao Katabuchi (assistant director for Hayao Miyazaki’s great work Kiki’s Delivery Service), comes one of the highly anticipated Japanese anime of the year. ‘In This Corner of a World’ is a story of an individual whose life is influenced by every other human & event which shapes the world- just like the life of a drop in the ocean. This individual refers to Suzu, an innocent, good at heart girl with a passion for drawing.
For an animated movie, 130 minutes runtime is bit unusual but the plot keeps pace. Set in 1930s Japan, the story fast forwards to Suzu’s teenage life in 1940s- she is married now. But even in those flashes, the story gets down to details in order to influence her future prospects & let the viewers witness those moments gradually.
There is a sense & honesty in the way the daily household life is described. It not only covers what it means to live but viewers are drawn into all the small & detailed things- from making sure ants don’t eat the sugar to a quarrel with her husband’s arrogant sister, draws viewers intimately into the life of Suzu..
If the initial part of the movie is about love & family then the latter half deals with the harshness & survival from war. The repercussions of war are soon visible when the food is rationed & result in long queues. Soon this fear results in paranoia when the bombing due to air raids start. Cities keep on burning for days, the sound of air raid warnings, people living in shelters and other terrors of war have been deftly covered, giving viewers immersive experience of war- last time we saw such thing in animation it was Grave Of The Fireflies, a Ghibli Studio film.
Still, at the heart it is a family drama, it’s about how our daily life influences us but the love & kindness we possess do not affect the people we love. As war reaches them closer, conditions become hostile & the human psychology is put to test.
In one of the crucial scenes, Suzu, being a painter, compares the sky with the canvas for painting- the explosions due to battle of aircrafts are congruent to splashing of colors on the canvas. Even in the scene of horror there is an element of wonder.
In the end it’s the love and life which triumphs over hate and war. When Suzu replies to her husband that she will always be there In This Corner Of The World, it essentially refers to the warmth & the love which will always be there in humans- no matter how small or far it is, it will undoubtedly triumph.
A very fine, delicate & compelling piece which will leave you in awe.