Grave of the Fireflies 2
In this Corner of the World is co-written and directed by Sunao Katabuchi and is based on the manga series of the same name by Fumiyo Kono.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: an anime film taking place during World War II. I'm 99.9999% sure that Grave of the Fireflies was the first film to come to your mind, with the likes of The Wind Rises not too far behind. I firmly believe that no future anime film to take place during World War II will be able to fully recapture the heartfelt emotion and gruesome consequences of war that Grave of the Fireflies masterfully stirs up. But then comes along In This Corner of the World, an anime film that has gotten a lot of love and has certainly been considered by some to be right up there with Grave of the Fireflies in terms of powerful, emotionally evocative World War II films. I regret to inform you all that I am not one of those people.
It's very easy to make comparisons between Grave of the Fireflies and In this Corner of the World, but just because one movie compares to another movie in several ways isn't automatically grounds to claim that the movie in question is bad. We shouldn't even use the world 'bad' at all when talking about In This Corner of the World, not with its elegant animation and its ambition to be a touching WWII picture. The word we ought to use when describing In this Corner of the World is boring, and, oh man, is boring the last thing I want any film to be, especially this one.
The first place to look at in regards to why In this Corner of the World is boring is its story: we have a young woman named Suzu (Rena Nonen/Laura Post). She lives with her family in Hiroshima and likes to spend her time drawing. One day, a strange young man named Shusaku (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Todd Haberkorn) arrives, asking for Suzu's hand in marriage. Shusaku lives in Kure City as a navy civilian, and he remembers first meeting Suzu during one of Suzu's childhood visits to Kure. Suzu agrees to marry Shusaku and move to be a part of his family in Kure. All is well at first for Suzu, but as World World II presses onwards, her and her new family must deal with food rationing, preparations for U.S. air raids, and Shusaku being drafted by the navy.
As you can see, not a lot to go with. In this Corner of the World is very much one of those emotion-centric films, one where mood and atmosphere are at the forefront, and the story is progressed in only small chunks. Maybe it's more of a matter of personal taste; I desire at least a decent amount of plotting while watching movies, and that's not what I got here. The movie, with its 129 minute run time, soon turned into a grind rather than something resembling an experience.
- There can be absolutely no knocks on the hand-drawn animation, which features a variety of beautiful backgrounds and as much attention to detail as you can have in an anime film. Colors, shapes, and other basic visuals; nothing is left to chance. Even as the film's emotional state gradually descends into the anguish of war, the animation remains a pleasant sight.
- A lack of story is one half of why In this Corner of the World is a struggle to sit through. The other half is how absent-minded that the film seems to be. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if absent mindedness was something that Katabuchi did on purpose. Suzu occasionally mentions how absent-minded she can be, although this is a character trait that seems to disappear and then reappear only when it's convenient for her to say so. But anyway, the movie being absent-minded is an appropriate way of describing how there's no clear focus on anything. The conversations that Suzu has with other characters are all over the place; some of them seem as if they're going to go somewhere interesting, only to stall out and never be brought up again. As for the more uninteresting conversations, well, that's it: they're just not very interesting to listen to. When it's clear that several conversations are going to do nothing to move the "plot" forward, it becomes that much more difficult to stay alert and not check your watch/phone to see how much time is left.
In conclusion, there's not much of anything for me to really go in depth in, because there's hardly anything I can go into about the story, and the fact that I found this film boring doesn't help matters. In this Corner of the World may be a rewarding viewing for those wanting a war film that fully taps into the griefs of war, but for the people wanting that kind of film, I kindly point you in the direction of Grave of the Fireflies. In this Corner of the World would be like getting seconds after the main course. Aside from its attempts at being a moving, anime war picture, In this Corner of the World has little to nothing to offer to audiences in terms of story and character, the former being too shallow and the latter not being fleshed out enough so as to be memorable in any way. The movie is also heavily unfocused, so much so that at times that it, makes you question what was going through Katabuchi's mind. What am I talking about, though? This movie has gotten so much love and so much praise that my measly opinion isn't going to change anything. I might as well stop now, because the more I think about this movie, the more I dislike it.
Recommend? No. Watch Grave of the Fireflies instead.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: