A Place Further Than the Universe – Anime Preview
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Synopsis: Scenery that we have never seen. Sounds that we have never heard. Scent that we have never smelled. Food that we have never tasted. And the surge of emotion that we have never experienced. This is the expedition of recollecting the pieces torn apart and sensation left alone. When we reach that place, what will we think? Howling, 40 degree angle. Raging, 50 degree angle. Shouting, 60 degree angle. A wilderness beyond the heavy sea. The furthest south, far from civilization. At the top of the Earth. We will find lights through the girls’ eyes to live tomorrow. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: A Place Further Than the Universe kicks off the season right with generally solid animation that’s never an eyesore. The series does employ a Tsukigakirei-esque character art style, with white edged outlines meant to denote light shine on the character’s shoulders/sides, but sometimes, due to background artwork that doesn’t always match, it can make the characters look more like unfinished cut outs. It’s a quibble though as it’s an artistic choice rather than a true visual failing.
Linny: When it comes to the story itself, you may have a sense of deja vu. Here’s yet another anime about a young, semi-direction lacking, teenager named Mari. In this case she wants to make the best out of her youth. Heck, it’s literally written down as a goal in her diary and so far, it seems like Mari will achieve it by going on an expedition to Antarctica. Such stories of timid teenagers bursting forth thanks to some far fetched dream aren’t uncommon in anime so what’s most important is exactly how the show is going to execute and narrate this take on it. For now, there isn’t much that screams unique but it is only the first episode so all hope isn’t lost.
Tom: The story is a little slow, and I think that’s what compounds this lack of unique presence. It can be plodding as this first episode is nothing but set up for sending Mari out into the world to accomplish her vague dreams. At times the story almost feels self-contained as Mari grows close to Shirase and her ambitious, often mocked, dream of heading to Antarctica. It’s only in the shows final moments that you get a sense of exactly how the series intends to progress over 12/+ episodes.
Linny: Based off only the premiere, it’s still hard to tell whether or how much the show is going to either focus on the girl’s efforts and preparations to be able to go on the expedition versus them actually being on the expedition. The only thing for certain is that it’s going to be yet another one of those shows that takes something from real life (in this case, expeditions and Antarctica) and give it the rosey ‘everything is magical and amazing’ anime treatment.
Tom: Turning our focus to the characters, Mari Tamaki is generally relatable in her lack of backbone and follow through for trying to do something wild before her high school days are over. Most teens are like that, afraid to break the rules, yet oh so eager to. Shirase Kobuchizawa, the Antarctica obsessed girl, is someone you can feel for once you understand the teasing she undergoes for having such a lofty, seemingly out of reach dream. Both make for decent leads, although feel relatively quirkless otherwise, making them not stand out quite as much as they really could, and should, for a series like this.
Linny: I definitely agree that Mari is someone audiences might connect with easily as we watch her struggle to confidently execute her dreams and desires. Shirase, our other lead, succeeds in feeling a little unique since she’s the token inspirational person/catalyst for Mari. She’s a balanced mix of aloof and friendly rather than an extreme on either end as tends to be the case for her character archetype in other shows.
Tom: Overall this is a decent start to the season. Nothing amazing, nothing mind blowing, but solid enough. Since this first episode is pretty much all set up, it’ll really be the second episode that decides if A Place Further Than the Universe is a great watch for the season, but right now it has a lukewarm recommendation from me. Having seen the true horrors of bad anime, A Place Further Than the Universe is just fine.
Linny: A Place Further Than the Universe may not be a mind blowing start to Winter 2018 but has potential as an enjoyable take on an otherwise common anime narrative. If you’re a big fan of stories about young teens finding a new passion or hobby and breaking out of their molds, you may want to give this latest one a try.
A Place Further Than the Universe is available for streaming via Crunchyroll