Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor
Have you ever felt unfulfilled in your teenage years? Have you ever grown tired of the same old routine and just wanted to go out on a grand adventure? Well, you might find yourself relating to Mari Tamaki on a personal level.
Mari Tamaki is an unfulfilled second-year high schooler. She grows bored of her uneventful life at school and home. She longs to go on a big adventure. Then, everything changes when she meets senior student Shirase Kobuchizawa, who’s been saving up money to go to Antarctica for a personal goal. Seeing a chance for adventure, Mari agrees to accompany her. They are soon joined by the energetic Hinata Miyake, and timid child actress Yuzuki Shiraishi. Together, they sail towards Antarctica, beginning the adventure of a lifetime.
This 2018 anime was quite the surprise, in the most positive way possible. It’s been ages since I’ve been invested in a show so emotional, heartfelt, funny and charming all at the same time. Shirase's story arc hit me the hardest, considering her purpose was to find her mother, who disappeared three years ago. Once she does find her answers, it’s a raw and devastating blow to the heart.
Considering it was set in Antarctica, I anticipated a daring, life-or-death drama. Surprisingly enough, there wasn’t much of that here, but it works to the show's advantage. In fact, the journey to Antarctica takes up the majority of the anime's 13 episode run. Whether it's the girls seeing the sights in Singapore, running around the research ship as it leaves Australia, or just hunkering down in the cold research station, there is fun to be had in watching their shenanigans.
A 13-episode anime can only cram so much into its short run time, and I felt some of the characters’ backstories were lacking. For example, Mari wants to journey to Antarctica, but after accomplishing that hard sought-after goal, she doesn’t do much else than be the goofy, lovable friend. Yuzuki, the child actress, is torn by the meaning of friendship, and unreasonably so; it takes her at least four or five episodes to finally understand how important it is to her.
“A Place Farther Than The Universe” is an overall beautiful story about friendship, loss and following your dreams. All the characters were easy to get attached to and immensely likable. If you watch this, you'll want to keep a handkerchief handy because it won't only make you laugh but shed a few tears as well.
“A Place Farther Than The Universe” was released in Japan between January and March 2018, and is now available on Crunchyroll and VRV.