Feature Play: In This Corner of the World
In This Corner of the World is a coming of age story that really makes you feel relaxed. The visual splendor is meant to make you feel nostalgic and sentimental and it works. This was a crowd funded film worth watching!
The story takes place during the tragic Second World War. The characters are idealized in a way which makes them in the mindset of filial piety, or giving the greater good for family and eventually society. This is a touching narrative by Sunao Katabuchi that proves that Katabuchi is indeed a postwar narrative mastermind. And this is seen in the characters.
Enter Suzu. She lives in Hiroshima. She’s surrounded by her extended and loving family and her friends who feel like family. She’s also a budding artist who has a bright imagination and is much of a daydreamer. Sadly this portrait of innocence doesn’t last long. She is then a teen girl who is being married off to a quiet, kindly man for whom she really doesn’t know. Suzu is branded by the label of women of her time and therefore works around the house doing chores. She does so under the watchful eye of her mother in law.
Suzu tries to make things work with the new family but her older sister Kieko doesn’t want to have it. She is bitter towards Suzu. Poor Suzu. The one person for whom she does become friendly with is Harumi, the younger sister in-law. Thank goodness for a silver lining.
All while this is happening, we have the war story of how Japan’s war in Asia becomes war with America in 1941. The realism of war is seen from Suzu’s point of view, so it’s interesting to see how it works. In this story you do get the image of warships in Kure Harbor and a lot of visual realistic images that invoke war into your mind; however, the war takes its toll on our heroine and we see and the world around her seems to fall into a waking nightmare. There is an interesting tie in with her temper and the inevitable dropping of the bomb at Hiroshima.
But there is also another twist to the tale as instead of having a narrative taking in Hiroshima from ground zero, and therefore focusing directly on the horrors and unrecoverable state America left Japan in, we have a group of characters who deal with it from a distance.
This distance doesn’t undermine the tragedy, but instead gives us a different perspective. In these characters’s cases, you have people who were already hard workers who continue to work hard but now it’s for the sake of recovering what’s been taken away. This above all is what makes the movie quite the standout.