In This Corner of the World Review

In This Corner of the World - Poster #1

A couple of days ago, on August 6th, the people of Hiroshima come together to commemorate the tragic events of the atomic bomb. On this day of remembrance, film screenings, speeches, and musical performances occur throughout the day. Then at night, everyone converges at the Ota River to light more than 10,000 paper lanterns as the final ceremony of the day. It’s a solemn reminder of the past but it’s also a way to create a rallying cry for a better tomorrow. It’s a way for hibakusha (nuclear blast survivors) find the light from a seemingly bottomless hole. This is the purpose of Sunao Katabuchi’s latest film: In This Corner of the World. But is Corner an effective film about the devastating events of Hiroshima?

In This Corner of the World is deeply personal character study that is lovingly put together by Katabuchi. It’s an incredibly beautiful film but unfortunately, it’s erratic as well.

In This Corner of the World follows Suzu (Non), a young woman who lives in Hiroshima during World War II. As Suzu gets married, she must take care of her new family as the threat of war comes ever so close to home.

In This Corner of the World is a sweet and extraordinarily beautiful piece of cinema. Not to mention, there’s something weirdly comforting as you’re watching the film. It truly feels as if you’ve wrapped yourself in a warm blanket and started sipping on some hot tea on a cold day. Much of that has to do with the artistic and realistic tone that Katabuchi instills in the film. Even with its World War II setting, there’s nothing extraordinary or exciting that occurs in the film and that’s okay. This minimalist approach enhances the emotional aspect of the film. To put it another way, it pulls on your heartstrings and never lets go.

Similarly, the animation is just simply stunning to look at. There’s just something about the handmade and painterly quality of the animation that puts a smile on my face. In addition, there’s a subtle three-dimensional quality to the animation that’s a nice contrast to the backgrounds. The watercolor palette is deceptively simple but it brings us closer to Suzu’s beautiful and imaginative world. She believes that the world is beautiful and thus, Katabuchi creates a world that parallels her mindset. That is to say, several shots can easily be prints that can be framed as artwork on your wall.

Yet there are some faults to this film. For one thing, the film barrels through its subject matter rather quickly. Sometimes it works in a scene’s favor and other times it’s just confusing. It just seems as if Katabuchi has no sense of pacing at all. For those of you that are looking for a film with a proper plot then you might want to look elsewhere. The film is extremely light on plot but audiences should realize that this is not that type of film. In This Corner of the World is a character study piece through and through.

In This Corner of the World - Suzu

But because this is a character study piece, the film wouldn’t have worked without the fantastic voice acting done by Non. She fully encompasses the quiet, naive, resilient, and innocent qualities of her character. While Suzu is the soul of the film then Kotringo’s score is the heart of the film. The “Nobuo Uematsu-esque” score evokes nostalgic memories of “Final Fantasy VIII”. Notably when you hear the theme song to Fisherman’s Horizon. Certainly, if you’ve ever listened to any of Nobuo Uematsu’s “Final Fantasy” soundtracks then you know how exceptional it is. Kotringo’s score is just as good.

All in all, In This Corner of the World is a beautiful and heartbreaking film set during one of the darkest times in human history. The film does have some glaring issues but it doesn’t tarnish the film’s many funny, emotional, and touching moments. It’s a film that will leave you inspired and deeply moved. In a time when nuclear warfare seems so regrettably imminent, this is a film that we need now more than ever.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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