It’s natural to look at tragedies from a hardened, statistical point of view, and thankfully the animated feature In This Corner of the World gives us a personal look at the bombing of Hiroshima. Seen through the eyes of a young woman named Suzu Urano, In This Corner of the World is both heartbreaking and inspiriting, evoking the storytelling spirit of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story).
Based on the manga by Fumiyo Kouno, In This Corner of the World actually leads up to the August 6 bombing, as we follow Suzu (voiced by Rena Nounen) from childhood (starting in 1933) up through her life in Kure, a small town in Hiroshima. Suzu is a talented artist, and drawing landscapes of surrounding landscapes is her biggest passion.
When Suzu eventually moves to Kure and marries Shusaku (Yoshimasa Hosoya), a man she barely knows, she must adjust to an entirely new existence. Though Shusaku’s domineering sister Keiko (Minori Omi) initially puts a damper on Suzu’s new life, she gradually bonds with Keiko’s inquisitive daughter Harumi (Natsuki Inaba).
The beauty behind In This Corner of the World lies in its rich, detailed storytelling, as we are given a bird’s eye view of the minute moments of Suzu’s existence. Director Sunao Katabuchi handles the material with a sensitive touch, and the movie’s soft and eye-catching visuals perfectly blend with Suzu’s sensitive yet resolute emotional spirit.
In This Corner of the World also eschews any heavy handed preachings about the horrors of World War II, but instead delivers its message via effective storytelling. Running at 129 minutes, there’s a ton of anecdotal moments that, when stitched together, effectively captures Suzu’s journey in Hiroshima. When tragedy strikes Suzu and her family, we are fully invested in the people who live in this “corner of the world,” and thankfully the tale doesn’t wrap everything up in a nice little bow.
Suzu understands that the ties that bind is also a bond that strengthens during one’s darkest days, and family is the beating heart that enlivens In This Corner of the World. Loss and tragedy is an inevitable part of life, but thankfully it’s not the entire story. As this film’s resonant artwork and story telling displays, beauty and for that matter life, still exists.
*In This Corner of the World is now playing in select theaters.
In This Corner of the World Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!!
I also covered “In This Corner of the World” on CinemAddicts. Take a listen below (my review starts at 53:30):