aNewDomain — Sunao Katabuchi’s ‘In Our Corner of the World’ is more than just another beautifully-rendered anime film. It’s a striking and dramatic example of how war impacts regular people.
The story begins in 1944, where we meet Suzu Urano, a young woman and artist in pre-war rural Japan. After marrying a young office worker, she goes to live with his family in a small town near Hiroshima. She struggles with her new relationships. Then the war comes and changes everything.
The movie beautifully traces the details of rural life from the 1930s through the end of the war. It accomplishes this by lovingly illustrating day-to-day life and daily rhythms, right down to the pots, pencils, clothing and flowers that populated it.
Horrific events are also pictured, though not always directly. Fire rains from the sky and massive warships float in the harbor. We see those, but only from a far. We see the flash of the bomb, too, but again, only at a distance.
But the true power of this film lies in its portrait of the regular people who make Hiroshima their home. They’re the ones who this anime film focuses upon, and that’s where the focus stays.
Suzu, the young woman we follow through this lushly animated movie, is finely drawn. She’s shy, gentle, sometimes stubborn, hardworking and she also loves to draw. She is intrepid, too, making the most of the poverty and wartime rationing that she and her fellow citizens must endure.
She survives the horrific events that befall her (and Japan) and somehow keeps going. As heroism goes she is more resilient survivor than savior, but the touching detail here is how she survives and how she touches others in the process.
Bottom line: This is a gorgeous, important anime movie well worth seeing. It’s impossible to watch this film without thinking of all the civilians around the world who suffer the consequences of war. We have become accustomed to such images. We unfortunately view them in passing without thinking of what’s actually happening to the people who, through no fault of their own, are swept up in ongoing horrors.
This film reminds us not just about the horrors of war, but of the beauty of life and the human spirit, too. It’s quite a film.
For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald.