Fitting that as nuclear tensions reach new highs, we revisit a beautifully animated rendition of humanity’s greatest low.
With the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bomb having come and gone, In This Corner of The World, directed by Suano Katabuchi and distributed by Funimation Films, attempts to revive the tragedy. In This Corner is fictional, taking place in Japan between the mid-1930s and 1947, and tells the account of Suzu Urano, a young woman hailing from Eba, a fictional province of Hiroshima city.
When Suzu turns 18 and marriage is officially on the table, Suzu makes the trip to Kure City to live with her spouse’s family. The small town is a port as well as a vital locale for the Imperial Japanese Navy. And the area is subject to constant bombing from the Americans, due to the Pacific War. As far as progression goes, Suzu’s new husband, a judicial civilian officer in the area, gets drafted into the Navy, and her sanity becomes increasingly challenged by the deaths that surround her. In short, while she starts out fairly optimistic, she isn’t in the greatest of mental states come later in the movie.
Unlike most war stories, we aren’t necessarily assaulted with graphic imagery, gritty scenery, and copious amounts of blood and gore – facets of the traditional war-time piece. Rather, Katabuchi employs an artstyle of cutesy and bubbly flair. Suzu herself loves to draw, and this infatuation almost becomes it’s own character in the film, as major events are accompanied by strokes of the hand, or drops of paint that dot the sky like oil on canvas.
It makes the seriousness of the war project against Katabuchi’s rendition, and they mesh quite well. All as the film staff took extra measures to forever preserve pre-WW2 Hiroshima before it’s brutal end. Which includes using history books, pictures, and the real-life accounts of the elderly making so what you see of the city is as accurate as they come.
It is the care during the film-making process makes In This Corner enchanting to watch, which makes the second half of the film equally as horrifying in scope. Katabuchi and nihilism go hand-in-hand here.
It’s an unfortunate reality that, as far as the characters of the film are concerned, there’s seemingly nothing wrong. And that life of the average citizen, defined by regular drills, scarce food supplies, and regular air raids had become routine. This is contrasted with the strong emphasis on family, Japanese culture, and the togetherness that pervades society regardless of cultural boundaries. And tailors In This Corner of The World to be more than just a retelling of the Second World War.
In This Corner of The World, originally illustrated by Fumiyo Kono, is now out in select theatres with English subtitles.