In this Corner of the World (Kono Sekai No Katasumi Ni) / 2016
Director : Sunao Katabuchi
Language : Japanese
Written by : Eswandy
Adapted from a manga with the same title by Fumiyo Kouno which ran from 2007 to 2009, In this Corner of This World is a slow pacing, beautifully crafted historical animation film based on the struggle of Japanese people towards the end of the World War 2, around the year of 1938-1946. With Hiroshima as the background setting, the audience will follow the life of a young woman, Suzu. The audience also will get to see the details of how Japanese people lives their life, their culture, and their lifestyle during that tormented era.
Compared to another released blockbuster animated film from Japan in 2016, title Your Name, perhaps this film has
the opposite direction and caters to a different group of audience. While Your Name injected audience emotions through a teenage love story with a fancy science fiction of swapping body theories, breath-taking animation and series of catchy songs, creating a somewhat pop culture phenomenon during its release, In the Corner of this World on the other hand applied a more serious tone to the storyline as the audience will be taken on a journey to witness the plot one by one being unfolded not by Suzu, but the harsh reality of the war itself. In the Corner of this World shoves the idea to the audiences that war is not just cruel but also unpredictable where you have to be strong both mentally and physically to survive in that unfortunate event. This is the kind of animated film that is geared towards adults. The kind of animated film that you can watch repeatedly just to enjoy all the small details on the screen that you may have missed in your previous watching. Of course there are some funny scenes here and there to lighten up the mood, to give a bit of fresh air to the audience and save them from suffocating, in what we call a comedy relief moment to ease the dramatic tension created from the storyline. Suzu’s character is displayed as innocent, fun, and cheerful but can be annoying sometimes. Apart from that, I love the style of the animation being used in this film. It is simple yet so detailed. On par with the likes of animated films from the legendary production, Studio Ghibli. The attention to detail, the art style, the animation, the visual, has been crafted with care and respect. I’m using the word respect here because although war can be ugly, but In the Corner of this World has successfully covered the ugliness of war by using a brilliant semiotic approach, without showing much of the violent act and showing terrible destructions images although war is the main focus of this animated film. Instead, they show how Japanese people have toughened up themselves, by putting aside their own sadness and sorrow to face the future and to build up their country from pieces with love and care.
I love the slice-of-life type of movies. And this animated film managed to satisfy my addiction to the genre. All the build-up on Suzu’s normal and typical daily lives of Japanese girl living in that era that occupies the 1st half of the movie, is really worth to watching. Watch Grave of the Fireflies (1988) if you are looking for another animated film with the same vibe.
*This article is written based on the reflection of the writer’s own personal view and expression towards the subject matter.*