Let’s see what I watched during the Winter season of 2018:
Violet Evergarden, Koi Ameagari, and the Basilisk sequel, which I never finished. Two decent shows, but nothing super substantial. I had seen that the show being spotlighted in this post was fairly popular, yet I never remember seeing any substantial hype for it around the anicommunity. Seasonal Prattle wrote one post on it some time back, but otherwise I’m either completely blind or I unintentionally ignored anything about it while it was airing.
I open with this because my question now, after seeing it, is “Where the FUCK have I been?”
Let me start with the negatives, because the rest of this will be overwhelmingly positive, just as a spoiler for those who don’t want to see me write mountains of gush further on. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho is a wee bit overdramatic. There are quite a few sequences where one can almost see the process of getting to the inevitable falling out scene where characters either confront each other for having conflicting feelings or stand up for what they believe in. It’s more prevalent in later episodes, though one could probably make a drinking game out of the number of dramatic doki-doki moments that occur throughout the series.
The other criticism involves Yuzuki as a character. In short form, she’s simply not as interesting as the other characters, particularly those she’s so desperate to be friends with. Whatever issue she’s given throughout is based on her desire to understand what “friendship” is and how she can maintain it, which might seem interesting if she were any way a strange person. She seems just as normal as any one of them, outside her role as a child celebrity. Why is she suddenly propping up pseudo-philosophical issues such as “What is friendship?” and what it entails? It feels really cheap in comparison to the more realistic issues that crop up with the other characters. Of course, I’m no child celebrity and I don’t know how that life would work, but from the outside, it seems a little too abstract.
Otherwise, episode twelve brought tears to my eyes. When any anime—or other forms of fictitious media for that matter—is able to bring out that kind of emotional response from me, which is like trying to break down a diamond-coated vault with a spoon, something like the following is easy to do:
Final Score: 10/10
But I won’t end it there. Too often I’ll watch something that’s completely and totally overwhelming and I’ll just leave it at “oh lol just watch it it’s good.” Not today. Allow me to share how I felt while watching Sora yori mo Tooi Basho.
This anime does not feel like an anime to me. It feels like a movie with an anime aesthetic. Its writing effectively portrays the world shown as a world anyone here could inhabit, which is such a difficult thing to do without making it incredibly boring. It’s also difficult to do because anime seems to be more fond of exaggerating events for the sake of a certain genre or chasing trends, which I regrettably understand. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has a strange vibe to it that makes it feel transcendent of the anime medium, almost in the way Studio Ghibli works do. I would recommend this anime to my family, half of whom hate anime.
And it’s not boring. The characters are all wonderfully expressive and have great chemistry with one another. Not too exaggerative, but enough to make them have distinguishably eccentric personalities that feel realistic. Even more so, every character is eccentric to some extent, which might be why they have such good chemistry. They all have their own personalities to showcase that eccentricity which leads to a number of different moods and situations. Whether humorous, dramatic, or super sweet, the anime is at its best when the four main characters are together just experiencing new things. They all share the same goal (roughly) and revel in being “different” than other people, and I couldn’t relate to this more. I wish to be caring and kind to all people, but there are a very select few that really click with me that make me want to do more than I would think possible on my own.
Which leads to the next positive attribute to this show: relatability. While I’m not so in common with these characters through their personalities, I relate to them through their insecurities and ambition. Things such as “I want to flourish in my youth,” “I want to find closure,” “I don’t want things to go unresolved,” “I need to walk my own path,” and others are highlighted to some degree throughout this series, with a few serving as the primary motivation for some of the character’s treks to Antarctica. Some of these things are resolved within a few episodes (one being a single episode), though some serve the entire course of the anime to finally cool down. The fact that an anime is even willing to incorporate so much into its script instead of exuding filler fun time for the sake of it is already commendable enough. To be able to have most of them feel real, weighted, and emotionally-ripe is amazing. I relate to all of these characters in some way, even if not in the exact same fashion. The fun thing about emotions is that empathy works in a way where one doesn’t need to experience the exact same things to be able to understand one’s grief. Sometimes people just know.
Watching this is like constructing lego structures. You can quote me on that. The beginning only gives you an instruction booklet, allowing the viewer to build the structure of their own as the pages go on. What this structure eventually becomes won’t be the same to everyone, but it will end up into something. That’s how the script feels to me. It’s a slow-building process of the best kind. Characters, the plot, the scenes, the world-building; everything weaves together in a way that makes it seem as though it wants to send a message. Whatever that message is could be different for everyone. For me, it was about self-discovery and working to make yourself better. It was about the magic of friendship (sorry that sounded gross) and the camaraderie of being with one’s own kind. It was about being able to move forward from the emotional/mental weights that bring one down. It’s a beautiful, enchanting series that worked for me in many different ways. I can’t say there was never a dull moment, but what shined more than made up for the more basic interactions.
It’s fucking great and you should watch it. Now.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
To see the ratings for all entries in this Summer and all others, check out the Summer of Anime Archive!